The Divorce Papers: A Novel

The Divorce Papers: A Novel

3.0 30
by Susan Rieger
     
 

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Sparkling and sophisticated, this sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking debut novel tells the story of a 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 sheSee more details below

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Overview

Sparkling and sophisticated, this sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking debut novel tells the story of a 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 trapped behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one week, with all the big partners out of town, Sophie is stuck handling 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. Mia is now locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology at Mather Medical School, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane. Mia 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. The way she sees it, it’s her first divorce, too. For Sophie, the whole affair will spark a hard look at her own relationships—with her parents, colleagues, friends, lovers, and, most important, herself.
 
A rich, layered novel told entirely through personal correspondence, office memos, e-mails, articles, handwritten notes, and legal documents, The Divorce Papers offers a direct window into the lives of an entertaining cast of characters never shy about speaking their minds. Original and captivating, Susan Rieger’s brilliantly conceived and expertly crafted debut races along with wit, heartache, and exceptional comedic timing, as it explores the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails—as well as the ever-present risks and coveted rewards of that thing called love.


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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
02/15/2014
Sophie Diehl is a criminal lawyer, and she prefers working with the incarcerated. However, filling in for a vacationing colleague results in her handling a divorce case—and not just any divorce case but that of a major client's daughter, Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim. Sophie works through this assignment while simultaneously trying to come to terms with her complicated love life and her own divorced parents. VERDICT This debut novel is written in what the author calls "Epistolary 2.0" through emails, memos, and the occasional note. While this concept is intriguing, the legal documents on Mia's divorce bogs down the pace. Though these items are easily skipped without losing the story line, they are numerous enough to disrupt the flow of the novel. At a certain point, one wonders why these incredibly detailed legal agreements are in the book at all. At the same time, Sophie becomes rather whiny when her family life and love life are not perfect, though there's really not much wrong to begin with. The only saving grace is the character of divorcée Mia, who manages to be funny and real.—Brooke Bolton, North Manchester P.L., IN
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.)
From the Publisher
“A modern epistolary novel of love, lawyers and email, The Divorce Papers is sharp, clever, funny and unexpectedly tender.”
—Cathleen Schine, New York Times bestselling 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, New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles

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

“With a sharp take on the dissolution of a high-profile marriage, Rieger's hilarious debut is sure to be a must-read for the summer—if you can wait that long.”
—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)

“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

“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

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804137454
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
03/18/2014
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
15,255
File size:
14 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

SUSAN RIEGER is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She has worked as a residential college dean at Yale and an associate provost at Columbia. She has taught law to undergraduates at both schools and written frequently about the law for newspapers and magazines. She lives in New York City with her husband. The Divorce Papers is her first novel.

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