Monday, June 13, 2016

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger REVIEW

18142403Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.

Debut novelist Susan Rieger doesn’t leave a word out of place in this hilarious and expertly crafted debut that shines with the power and pleasure of storytelling. Told through personal correspondence, office memos, emails, articles, and legal papers, this playful reinvention of the epistolary form races along with humor and heartache, exploring the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails. For Sophie, the whole affair sparks a hard look at her own relationships—not only with her parents, but with colleagues, friends, lovers, and most importantly, herself. Much like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Divorce Papers will have you laughing aloud and thanking the literature gods for this incredible, fresh new voice in fiction.

This book was not what I expected. I was expecting a third dimensional read with the divorce being the centerfold. That isn't what happened though. The story was in email format, which made for a different kind of read; but it also made for a fun and interesting read with a context that I was not expecting. I found myself laughing at myself for being surprised that it was in a different format than I was expecting since the title is "The Divorce Papers'.  However, as much fun was it was to read a book in a different style, I.E. story line, plot, twist, characters, etc., it would have been nice to have some context to work with. It was daring, in my opinion, for the author to go the route that she did with the format. It didn't fail, it was still quite a good and interesting read that kept me on my toes, it just wasn't the route I would have gone with. However...once you get into the rhythm and pulse of the book, you find yourself looking forward to the correspondence and responses and learning what type of character the character has from their responses for the divorce. All in all, I thought the realness, the genuineness, and law speak (it is a divorce, after all) really gave this book a punch and the characters (Sophie, her boss, David, etc) had real flavor behind their characters. Overall, a good book :)

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