The Divorce Papers

The Divorce Papers

3.0 30
by Susan Rieger
     
 

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Witty and wonderful, sparkling and sophisticated, this debut romantic comedy brilliantly tells the story of one very messy, very high-profile divorce, and the endearingly cynical young lawyer dragooned into handling it.
 
Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she

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Overview

Witty and wonderful, sparkling and sophisticated, this debut romantic comedy brilliantly tells the story of one very messy, very high-profile divorce, and the endearingly cynical young lawyer dragooned into handling it.
 
Twenty-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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Emily Giffin
According to the oft-repeated statistic, roughly half of all marriages in this country end in divorce…But how many people want to relive the emotions of a marriage's demise, from the initial shock to the ensuing despair, fury and vengeance? Yet The Divorce Papers, through its ingenious setup and voyeuristic pleasures, overcomes these hurdles as Rieger excavates the humor and humanity from a most bitter uncoupling…The novel's most distinguishing characteristic is Rieger's modern twist on the epistolary form, the narrative cleverly unfolding through handwritten correspondence, office memos and emails, news articles and legal papers, even floral delivery cards. Rieger…is clearly equipped to handle the legal aspects of the story, as evidenced by the settlement offers and memorandums that document the contentious back-and-forth between the warring parties. But it's in the personal correspondence that she really shows a storyteller's imagination.
Publishers Weekly
★ 11/18/2013
In Rieger’s clever and funny debut—an epistolary novel told through memos, e-mails, and letters—Sophie Diehl is a criminal lawyer, working for a law firm in the fictional state of Narragansett in New England, similar to Massachusetts. As she says herself, “I like that most of my clients are in jail. They can’t get to me; I can only get to them.” One of the firm’s managing partners asks her to do an intake interview for Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim, daughter of one of the firm’s most important clients, whose husband served her with divorce papers at a local restaurant. Sophie reluctantly acquiesces and has to learn how to handle a divorce case (rather than a criminal one), while juggling family dynamics, nasty interoffice politics, and the ups and downs of her own romantic life, all as the year 2000 approaches. Lovers of the epistolary style will find much to appreciate. Rieger’s tone, textured structure, and lively voice make this debut a winner. Agent: Kathy Robbins, Robbins Office. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-21
A brutally comic chronicle of high-end divorce told through letters, emails and a huge pile of legal memorandums. This is the first novel from Columbia Law School graduate Rieger. Brilliant 29-year-old Sophie Diehl is an up-and-coming criminal defense lawyer in the prestigious firm of Traynor, Hand, Wyzanski in the fictional New England state of Narraganset. Mia Durkheim, nee Meiklejohn, the daughter of one of Traynor, Hand, Wyzanski's wealthiest clients, has been served divorce papers by her husband of 18 years, pediatric oncologist Daniel. After Sophie fills in for the firm's vacationing divorce specialist, Fiona McGregor, to take Mia's initial interview--transcript provided--Mia decides she wants Sophia to represent her. Sophie reluctantly accepts the civil case under pressure from managing partner David Greaves. The intimacies of Mia and Daniel's marriage are laid bare largely through Mia and Sophie's emails and Sophie's detailed memos to David about the case's progress. The couple's skirmishes are comically vicious, while the issue of custody concerning their sensitive, precocious 10-year-old daughter deepens the marital drama. As Sophie gears up to battle the sleazy New York lawyer Daniel has hired, she also must contend with Fiona's ruffled feathers and office politics involving ethnic, class and gender issues brought to light in a flurry of interoffice memos--shades of The Good Wife. Meanwhile, Sophie's emails to her best friend chronicle a nonstarter romance and her complicated relationships with high-achieving, eccentric parents whose divorce still troubles Sophie. Rieger pulls out every legal document connected to the case, including witness affidavits, settlement offer breakdowns and legal invoices. Extremely clever, especially the legal infighting; this book should prove hugely popular with the legal set as well as anyone who has ever witnessed a divorce in process.
From the Publisher
“Ingenious setup and voyeuristic pleasures...Rieger excavates the humor and humanity from a most bitter uncoupling.”
—Emily Giffin, New York Times Book Review

“Fresh and lively… Smart and wonderfully entertaining… The power and canniness of this bittersweet work of epistolary fiction pulls you along… [T]his portrait of a divorce makes for serious, yet charming, entertainment… A dramatic intertwining of the law and human feelings.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR

The Divorce Papers has more snap and freshness than a just-picked stalk of celery… The Divorce Papers is built around an undeniably clever conceit. But it’s the humor and charm with which Rieger have imbued her novel that make her debut such a memorable read.” —Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor

“In her clever modern twist on the epistolary form, Rieger excavates the humor and humanity from a most bitter uncoupling.”
—Editor's Choice, New York Times Book Review

“Brims with brio and wit… A-” —Entertainment Weekly

“This comedy of manners... unfolds through e-mails, legal briefs, handwritten notes, and interoffice memos... the texts offer a provocative glimpse of how intimately our documents reveal us.” —New Yorker

“Rieger writes with such facility and humor in so many voices… [A]n excellent yarn about the nature of love, insecurity and commitment.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A witty first novel… The engaging tale…provid[es] all the voyeuristic pleasure of snooping through someone else’s inbox.” (Three out of four stars) —People

“A fantastic book...excellent.” Jezebel

“Whip-smart… The characters are hilarious and brilliant.” —Lucky

“A modern epistolary novel of love, lawyers and email, The Divorce Papers is sharp, clever, funny and unexpectedly tender.”
—Cathleen Schine, author of The Three Weissmanns of Westport
 
“Smart, sophisticated, and incredibly fun, The Divorce Papers brilliantly combines the pleasures of snooping with the delights of great storytelling. I raced through these charming pages and enjoyed every one.”
—Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles

“Exceedingly entertaining.” RealSimple.com

The Divorce Papers is terrific fun. I relished every last letter, memo, email, and legal brief in this sneakily clever, insidery peek into the world of privileged families and the lawyers who serve them.”
—Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians

“A sharp take on the dissolution of a high-profile marriage...hilarious.” —EW.com

“Clever and funny... Lovers of the epistolary style will find much to appreciate. Rieger’s tone, textured structure, and lively voice make this debut a winner.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Rieger brilliantly blends the serious and the comic… The verdict: if you like your fiction smart and witty, The Divorce Papers is a winner.”
Shelf Awareness (starred)

“A brutally comic chronicle of high-end divorce... Extremely clever.”
Kirkus (starred)

“Susan Rieger brings her real-life experience as a lawyer to the table in this debut romantic comedy that’s written, refreshingly, in the epistolary style.”
—Cosmopolitan.com

“A fun, riveting and rollicking read that will make you wonder what first-time author Susan Rieger has up her sleeve next.” —Bookreporter

“Witty and engaging... The Divorce Papers is a sharp read and an impressive debut. [Rieger’s] prose—peppered with literary, historical and philosophical references—is whip smart.” —BookPage

“Where Rieger excels is with her characters. Sophie and her crowd are witty, insightful, and interesting people... [A] refreshing and absorbing read.”
Booklist

“[C]risp and irreverent and highly entertaining… Diehl is a character you will like immediately and want to get to know better. She, her friends, family, and co-workers are deliciously interesting.” —Federal Lawyer

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804137447
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/18/2014
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.60(d)

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