The Divorce Party

( 20 )

Overview

" Sizzle Factor: SPF 50. A secret marriage, lies about affairs . . . even sex on the day of the divorce party" (USA Today)-the hottest beach read of the summer

Laura Dave is widely recognized as an up-and-coming talent in women's fiction. Now, with her characteristic wit and warmth, she captures a much-discussed cultural phenomenon that has never been profiled in fiction before-divorce celebrations. Set in Hamptons high society, The Divorce Party features two women-one newly ...

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The Divorce Party: A Novel

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Overview

" Sizzle Factor: SPF 50. A secret marriage, lies about affairs . . . even sex on the day of the divorce party" (USA Today)-the hottest beach read of the summer

Laura Dave is widely recognized as an up-and-coming talent in women's fiction. Now, with her characteristic wit and warmth, she captures a much-discussed cultural phenomenon that has never been profiled in fiction before-divorce celebrations. Set in Hamptons high society, The Divorce Party features two women-one newly engaged and one at the end of her marriage-trying to answer the same question: when should you fight to save a relationship, and when should you let go?

An insightful and funny multi-generational story, this deeply moving novel is sure to touch anyone whose heart has weathered an unexpected storm.

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Editorial Reviews

Kate Jacobs
A revealing, honest portrait of how love binds us together — and drives us apart. Laura Dave understands the affections and contradictions within the human soul. I love this book! (Kate Jacobs, author of Friday Night Knitting Club)
Marisa de los Santos
In lustrous, supple language and with breathtaking acuity, Laura Dave explores the intricate inner lives of two women as they struggle to know the men they love... they face the same thorny question: how many lies—and how much truth—can love bear? (Marisa de los Santos, author of Love Walked In )
USA Today
Endearingly quirky . . . [a] charming, offbeat debut . . . that winningly explores the romantic choices we make.
Melissa Bank
Incredibly deft, utterly satisfying, a triumph of a first novel.
Washington Post
Such a satisfying read . . . The relationships among her cast are complicated, fraught and tender. Her story reads sweet but real.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615513741
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Dave
Laura Dave is the author of London is the Best City in America, which was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Self Magazine, ESPN the Magazine, Redbook, and The New York Observer. She lives in New York City; visit her online at www.lauradave.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Montauk, New York, 1938

It is bizarre, of course, that this was the summer that everyone was trying to fly somewhere. Howard Hughes around the world in ninety- one hours, the luxurious Yankee Clipper boat off the water and into the air, Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan from New York to Los Angeles—he wound up in Ireland. It was also the summer after Superman first appeared in Action Comics and instant coffee got popular, and the last full summer before the worst war. But they’d talk about the flights first. They’d say, how odd, for everyone to have spent so much time staring up at the sky, and to still not see it coming: a hurricane so punishing that it would destroy America’s eastern seaboard, biting off the farthest tip of eastern Long Island, biting off a town called Montauk, and leaving it detached from the world, an island, alone, in the middle of the ocean.

It was September, only the last vestiges of summer remaining, when the hurricane hit. No one on Long Island knew that a storm was coming that afternoon. That the army would have to come in to resurrect the land that had once connected Montauk to the rest of Long Island. That it would take two weeks before the waters receded low enough at Napeague to let through emergency traffic. That Montauk residents would lose almost everything.

In the end, there were only a few exceptions. Near Montauk Point, there were seven houses tucked so tightly to the bluffs that the wind and the rain and the water couldn’t pull them down. Seven sister houses built by the same architecture firm in 1879, lived in each summer since by the same seven Manhattan families. Their steely gates and strong foundations completely intact. Their fireplaces and oak doors and stained- glass windows marking them, homes like trophies, on top of the end of the world.

The one at the farthest eastern tip was called Huntington Hall—Hunt Hall by anyone who’d actually visited. It was the only house of the seven still occupied that late in September. And occupying it was Champ Nathaniel Huntington. Champ was thirty- three years old, and far too handsome, and a little too tall, and the only son of Bradley Huntington, the most successful publishing mogul in North America. When the hurricane hit, Champ Huntington was having sex. Lights on. Curtains drawn. Angry, late- afternoon sex. Anna was bent over the side of the bed, Champ behind her, his hand cupping her throat.

They had been out here all summer having sex like this. They were trying to save their marriage. And they were trying to destroy it.

Outside was all water and raging dark and storm. But in his faded consciousness, Champ didn’t notice. He knew it was raining. He heard it striking against the roof. He heard the wind. But this was Montauk. It was September. These sounds didn’t indicate that something brutal was happening.

Other things were brutal. This first year of marriage. It was wrong. Anna’s dark hair in the sink. The meetings he didn’t really have. He bent down farther, took her ear in his mouth.

“Don’t,” she said. She was focused, close. “Stop.”

When they were done, they lay, splayed, Anna on the bed, Champ on the floor beneath her. Her foot was on his shoulder. This was the only place they were touching. He almost reached out, held her toes. But he knew it just made her mad when he did anything tender. It made her think he’d change, or want to try for her.

Then and only then did Champ sit up and look outside. And maybe it was that his head was still closed off, but what he saw out there looked like a train crashing into the window. It was the visual that made him hear the noise. The terrible whistling, high pitched and out of control. Hearing it, he’d later say, was the moment his life changed.

He headed to the bedroom window, naked, and had to reach out, grip the long edge of the window frame to hold himself up. He couldn’t see the beach, or the ocean. He couldn’t see anything at first.

Anna came up behind him, wrapped in the bedsheet, and they stood there watching the train- wind through the window. They watched so hard that they didn’t talk. Not about the speed of the wind or the trees breaking apart or what must have been happening in the town center. If they had been thinking, they might have moved away from the window. They might have been scared that it would splinter. But they stood there until the storm stopped, and started, and stopped for good. And the greenish yellow sky turned purple and then black and the sun (or was it the moon?) rose up, terrifying. It was the sun. They had watched through the night.

“What time is it?” she asked.

He didn’t answer her.

“What do we do now?” she said.

Champ was already in motion. He was putting on clothes and lacing up his work boots and walking out the front door. He made his way, by foot, across his land, down the slippery bluffs and tree- wrecked cliffs onto the flooded Napeague stretch and down farther to Main Street. Three and a half miles. Into the center of the ruined village.

There were fishing boats and cars piled on small houses. Fallen phone lines pulling down torn roofs. Poles and flooded cabinets and bed frames lining the street. Water was fl owing from everywhere, making it hard to even walk down the streets—where did it start? If they figured out where it started maybe they could stop it!

Champ pulled up his pant legs and made his way to the Manor, where people were setting up shelter, where they were trying to provide relief for themselves. And Champ set to work with the other men moving cars and carrying wet wood and boarding windows and drying blankets and cleaning up slabs of broken glass.

How could he explain it even to himself? He didn’t recognize the feeling, had never known it before. But something broke free in Champ—something like devotion or commitment—to his home, to his suffering town, to everything around him. Maybe this is why, when he finished working, he didn’t head home, but down to the docks, where he sat on canisters with all the fishermen, who now had nothing, and listened to them talk about how they had nothing, and stared at his own cut hands, and watched the moon rise, white and fierce, remarkably sure of itself.

Then he followed the star- line north and east, trying to locate it. First Montauk Point, then the cliff and the bluffs, then the house itself. His house. Huntington Hall. Standing tall, oblivious.

It was hard to find his way back there in the dark. So he followed the defeated shoreline, and eventually made his way up the wooden staircase, into the bluffs, toward his home, where everything was still mostly together. Where Anna was waiting with lit candles and tomato sandwiches, dark blankets spread out on the living room floor.

When he walked in, she was by the front door. She was wearing a long, purple sweater. She had her hair in a bun. She reached for him, and he buried into her neck, smelled her.

“How was town?” she asked, her hand still on his chest. “I tried to pick up news on the radio, but there was no reception. Is there a town left?”

He didn’t answer her, but he was looking at her strangely. And he knew that she knew he was looking at her strangely. It was as simple as this: he could see her. For the first time in a year, there was nowhere else he was trying to be.

Which brought him to his own questions: Why did it take fear to move him? Why does it take chaos to make us understand exactly what we need to do?

He wanted to ask her his questions, but he wasn’t sure she would have good answers, and then he would change his mind, and he didn’t want to change his mind. He wanted to stay this sure.

Later, only thirty hours since he had last been lying t here, they were lying on the floor together, facing each other. And in that strange way that we make decisions, the important decisions that ultimately make us, Champ decided that they were going to stay in Montauk full time. No more New York City. This had become their home.

He turned and looked outside at the slowly recovering world. At the backlit colors in the sky, on his lawn. And he knew the truth. The main truth, at least. This house had saved them. This big, beautiful cottage, which stayed big and beautiful despite the destruction all around. Its stern banisters and wood ceilings and determined rafters. The house had saved him, and he wasn’t going to forget it.

He was going to build his life here, right here, in the name of love and honor and what ever else he was feeling, even if he couldn’t name it for what it was: exhaustion.

He was, finally, exhausted.

He looked Anna right in the eye. “Things are going to be different,” he said.

She nodded.

“I’m staying,” he said, because they’d talked about the opposite, earlier, before—his leaving her, and here.

“Why?” she said.

“I want to,” he said.

She got quiet. “You’re going to disappoint me,” she said.

“Probably.” He was trying to make a joke, but it didn’t come out that way. He tried again. “I think it’s going to turn out okay,” he said.

“Starting when?” she asked. “Ending when?”

Then, as if it were an answer, he pulled her in close to him, without reluctance, without anything like fear. “This house,” he said, “will see love. This house will see everything.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    It's inspired!

    Weddings and divorces are opposite in nature but the same as in the opportunity to start anew. Of course, most of the time there is one party of the couple who is hurting and sees it as an end. Most stories are about the journey of the young, perfect people to the falling in love, then to the happily ever after marriage. How inventive to start at this point of lives and have a party to celebrate it! I love it! This is an enjoyable and entertaining read that captures the complexity of relationships, the challenges of marriage and beyond and the importance of really knowing someone. I love the well-to-do age group with such rich lives and so much more on the go than a simple love relationship. A couple throws a smashing party on their thirty-fifth anniversary to celebrate, not the event itself, but the fact that the marriage is finally at an end. The "perfect couple" proves to still be perfect right down to the divorce. It's inspired! I also love books by picoult, kingsbury, Pirrung and Rivers. Ann T. Mason

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Chick lit with a little extra

    Summer's not done yet - here's another hot read for you!

    Nate and Maggie are newly engaged. Nate's parents Gwyn and Thomas have been married for thirty five years. But their marriage has come to an end. Gwyn is throwing a divorce party with Thomas "to celebrate a peaceful end to a valued union." And this is the day when Maggie will meet her future in-laws for the first time....

    This novel is told in alternating chapters from Maggie and Gwyn's viewpoint, all happening in one day. Both women have discovered things they didn't know about their significant other - albeit at a different stages of their relationships - the beginning and the end.

    Dave has created charming, warm, wonderful characters that are believable. The female roles are the strongest. Gwyn is a self assured woman who is coming to grips with finding her own path after so many years as a couple. Maggie is an engaging young woman who is finding her footing as well. Supporting characters, notably Nate's sister Georgia, are also searching.

    I had a hard time with Thomas. Although he is being true to what he believes to be the best path for himself, I disliked his dishonesty - I found it weak. Nate too has his secrets, but his reasons to be had less to do with selfishness, than his love for Maggie. I was more sympathetic to his cause, but still not thrilled with his duplicity.

    When I picked up Laura Dave's second novel, I thought it would be a chick lit read based on the cover. I hesitate to label it as there was so much more to it. it was by turns funny, sad, poignant and hopeful. A fairy tale - no, but a definite page turner. You'll find yourself re reading some of the passages on relationships and thinking about your own.

    Fans of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin would enjoy this book. (They both did as they've provided cover blurbs!)

    As as a neat aside, Jennifer Aniston's film company has bought the rights to The Divorce Party.

    This would be a good choice for a book club as well. There is an excellent reading group guide included in the book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The strong realistic cast brings poignancy to this charming profound relationship tale

    As Nate Huntington and Maggie Mackenzie become engaged, his parents Gwyn and Thomas Huntington are ending their three and half decade marriage amiably. In fact the couple plans on hosting a divorce party with Thomas trusting his soon to be ex wife Gwyn the professional party planner is doing everything with class, taste and amity.

    On the same day his parents are ending their marital relationship in Montauk, Long island, Nate is introducing Maggie fromBrooklyn to them. She is not sure how to behave when she and her Nate are starting together while her future in-laws are ending their marriage; alpha meets omega.

    Rotating perspective between the two women, fans receive a strong character study that looks closely at what motivates Gwyn to want a divorce and Maggie to want to get married. Through their respective lens, the reader also sees how each of the two women perceive the two men though Maggie's notion of her future father in-law is based on first impressions tied to the amiable divorce. Ironically these four people and several support characters search for more meaning in life while wondering what truth is when dealing with a loved one (think of the Memorex commercial - is it real or Memorex). The strong realistic cast brings poignancy to this charming profound relationship tale.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    summer pool/lakeside book

    This is a great story with truly likeable characters, an interesting and well-told tale involving 3 different generations and their "in and out of" loves. I was entertained by the descriptive and involved writing. It made me feel as if I could taste the salt in the air. I especially enjoyed the gentle ending - not a tear-jerker, just a nice wrap on this delightful package!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Bridget's Review

    Gwyn is a party planner who has been a leader in all different kinds of celebrations for other. Including Divorce Parties. After being married for thirty-five years, her marriage is over. Now, she is throwing her own divorce party which she knows will be different from all the rest.

    Meanwhile, Maggie is looking forward to starting her life with the man of her dreams. This may sound wonderful right now, but she still has to meet the in-laws.

    Weddings and divorce may seem like complete opposites but this novel shows that the emotions for both events are sometimes the same. This is a beautiful book that is sure to touch everyone who reads it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Divorce Party

    Laura Dave has written an engrossing novel that I could not put down. She creates characters you can truly empathize with as they struggle to find the truth in their relationships. The characters are so wonderful, flawed and real. The pace of the novel is pitch perfect and the prose has an elegant flow to it. The Divorce Party is just a tremendous novel about forgiveness and acceptance that I highly recommend.

    For the entire review, go to: http://barneysbookblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/review-divorce-party.html

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book

    This is the first book I read by this author and it was fabulous. Very well written, touching, and true. I recommend this to anyone who likes a bit of chick lit.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2008

    Warm and hearbreaking at the same time

    A wonderfully written book about how people can change and how people don't want to see change take place or are afraid to take a chance. It is so sad that many of the things that have occured in this book is so true, especially after 35 years of marriage. Hopefully Ms. Dave will write a book about Gwen and her future since she has so much to offer someone who wants her.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Incredibly and Magically Moving

    The Divorce Party is one of the most oddly moving books I've read in a long time. Since I finished reading it, I have been trying to sort out what, exactly, makes it work so well. Certainly, it captures the emotions of complex people in complex relationships in incredibly lovely prose. It is funny, and surprisingly heartwarming, and hard to put down. And yet it goes beyond that somehow, in a way that so few books do. There is some little bit of magic that it delivers. It leaves you hopeful for your own relationships, and for your ability to embrace your future, whatever it has in store.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Amicable Split

    Finishing THE DIVORCE PARTY felt like an amicable split. I didn't hate it, but I wasn't in love with it, so I didn't feel sad when it ended. It tries to be a tale of revenge, but it's not that vengeful. It's more about relationships and moving on after "life-altering" events shape your future, but it just comes off as a bit too lifeless.

    In the novel, the affluent Gwyn is planning a divorce party for she and her soon-to-be ex-husband Thomas after 35+ years of marriage, inviting hundreds of their closest friends. Also invited are their son Nate and his fiance Maggie, and their pregnant daughter Georgia and her music band boyfriend Denis (rhymes with penny). Each couple has their own relationship problems, none of which are particularly interesting. Nate has secrets from Maggie. Secrets like coming from a wealthy family. Is this really a deal-breaker? Sounds like a d@mn nice surprise to me. Denis is absent from Georgia's life, yet she still loves him and thinks he's the greatest man in the world for her; a bit too cliche.

    The novel alternates chapters focusing on Gwyn and Maggie. We see the situations that each woman is going through with their own relationships, as well as their individual viewpoints of situations in which they're both present. Both women, though, over-think and over-analyze everything. The ongoing descriptions of their thoughts felt like too much thinking/telling and not enough showing. They're so overdramatic, like an episode of The Bachelor.

    I won't spoil anything, but I was pleasantly surprised at a couple of the plot twists that the author threw into the novel. They managed to grab my interest and pull me back into the novel when I was drifting away. It probably needed more of them.

    This is my second novel by Laura Dave. She's a decent writer; she writes very conversationally. However, the story felt a bit thin. I would have liked to have read more substance. As it stands, it's not a novel I would care to have a conversation about. There's not much to say, and there's not much that I took away from the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    A reviewer

    It was a well written story- i wish the book was much longer - maybe there will be a continuation with maggie character

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    Skip

    Really, dreadfully boring. Nothing happens. And I really hate to write bad reviews.

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