The Divorce Papers

( 23 )

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, ...

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The Divorce Papers: A Novel

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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

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

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804137461
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2014
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 152,088
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Rieger

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(9)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    Waste of money!

    Horrible read and so much material that had to be skipped over becuase of no relevance to the story. This book cost 12.99, I feel like I should have been the one paid to read this sorry book.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    Awful!

    Awful.....could of been good if it didnt consist of only emails etc....wheres the story?

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    Awful

    If you like reading someone elses email you might like it but I found it boring

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 26, 2014

    I started with four stars but I am finding that I got five stars

    I started with four stars but I am finding that I got five stars worth of enjoyment out of this book. I really did. I was put off at first by the style. I wasn't that interested in reading actual divorce papers and proceedings. But then the voyeur in me got the best of me. In the end, I couldn't put it down. Somehow in all those memos and e-mails and proceedings you see glimpses of the heartbreaking details of what brings people together and what tears them apart. It was interesting and entertaining and I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved Sophie, the lawyer, with her inability to edit herself and her complicated family. Who can make a lawyer lovable? Well, it worked here. Also, I will use that sending flowers thing this very week. And I never would have considered it without this book. (That's when I decided it's five stars instead of four. I used her idea in my own way. It has to be five stars.)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 15, 2014

    Delicious!  I am so sad I finished last night.  Please say there

    Delicious!  I am so sad I finished last night.  Please say there will be a sequel, a series or just anything.  I loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Love

    Great easy read. Would make a great beach read!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    I can't believe anyone thought this book was worthy of publicati

    I can't believe anyone thought this book was worthy of publication. the premise was completely implausible and too much irrelevant material made this a boring, worthless read. Save your money.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2014

    Tries a little too hard

    An entertaining, easy read that tries a little too hard to be what it's not. Highly recommended for beach or vacation reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2014

    Uh, no.

    I will not be reading this. Publishers really have to be careful with their descriptions. A wealthy powerful woman about to go through a nasty divorce / custody battle hiring a baby attorney who has never handled a divorce case before??! Not plausable. You've lost my interest.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Amazing

    Very funny and charming.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Awefule

    Tthe book itself is only one page so it really sucks

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2014

    Kaykaydwight@gmail.com

    Add me im 15

    1 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Liam

    Here?

    1 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2014

    Excellent

    Absolutley fantastic read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2014

    Great book, totally different style

    Wasnt sure if I'd like the style but I did. Great characters. Learned a lot about attorneys and divorces. Some things I did not want to know... oh well. I look forward to the author's next novel!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 5, 2014

    While I think the idea of this book is fun and relatively unique

    While I think the idea of this book is fun and relatively unique, there are some problems. Namely Sophie. Sophie is a totally unlikeable, whinny woman that I would not want to be my friend, let alone my lawyer. She sends completely inappropriate emails and memos of a personal nature (spilling her guts about her parents' divorce more than a decade before) to her boss -- emails that are rather flirtatious, especially when you learn that she has a crush on DG (as she calls him). What's worse is that her boss doesn't seem to want to stop her from sending these emails. At one point, he tells her that a memo she wrote is unprofessional, but his criticism is related to not its contents but its structure -- she rambles, he says, and that is true for the bulk of Sophie's correspondence. It rambles and doesn't seem to have a point -- and when she finally gets there, you're exhausted from waiting for her to wrap it up already.

    Which leads me to my next criticism. I could not stand reading the emails between Sophie and her life-long friend Maggie. Although Maggie was the only one who told Sophie to grow up and grow a pair, I just could not read those emails without my eyes drifting. Granted, this is a novel set in 1999, where email was a novelty and not many people had cell phones, and texting definitely wasn't a form of communication. But oh my gosh. NO ONE WRITES EMAILS LIKE THAT. My biggest problem with the length of the emails -- and many other documents in this book, court documents withstanding -- is that they were trying too hard to be literary. They weren't written in everyday nomenclature. If I am going to read an epistolary novel, I expect it to be realistic, not full of prose that is being forced through a "literary" sieve.

    This is a book that tries to rely too much on popular culture, with references to books, movies, and theatre that the majority of readers aren't going to get. I am a smart, well-read, educated woman and I have to say, reading these references and trying to figure out them when I didn't know was distracting very irritating. Sometimes inserting these references, even if the audience doesn't get them, can work. I give you Gilmore Girls as an outstanding example of this. However, in the case of Gilmore Girls, you have two women just being themselves, their likeable selves. In The Divorce Papers, all we have is Sophie making repeated references to her French mother, her English father, her bad boyfriends, with all of these book and movie references that aim at making Sophie appear cultured but fail terribly in hitting their mark.

    One thing that I found super irritating, and I don't know why, is that it appears that this novel takes place in the made up state of Narragansett. Narragansett is a real city in Rhode Island, but here it's its own state. I take it back, I think I know why it bothers me so much. The author went through law school and has taught law at two different colleges. Would it have been so difficult to do research into actual divorce laws of an actual state? I feel like making up a state and its own divorce laws is both a) a lot more work than researching real divorce laws in real states and b) lazy writing because she was too lazy to do (a). Other states are mentioned frequently: New York. New Jersey. Massachusetts. Why not use one of those?

    My overall impression? I am channeling my inner Sophie when I say that this is a novel that tries way, way too hard to be avant-garde and fails miserably.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Terrible

    Don't waste your time or your money. Boring. No plot. No purpose. There's nothing flawed in the writing style, but nothing enlightening about it. There was some character development, but not enough to justify this book's existence. If you want to follow the proceedings of a divorce, go look up divorce records in your local court. The only reason I finished the book was that I figured the whole drab beginning must be leading up to something interesting, maybe some clever twist, but no, it just ended. Total disappointment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Very clever. Good read. Different. 

    Very clever. Good read. Different. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Don't buy if you're a lawyer

    If you are a lawyer or work in the legal field, don't waste your money on this one. You will find it so absurd and unrealistic you will not be able to enjoy it. Lawyers would never waste their time writing the long, elaborate memos and e-mails that are the entire premise of this book. Also, you will not find the numerous pleadings and laws intriguing-you will just be thinking, get to the plot already. Wish I could have a refund.

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  • Posted May 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Sophie Diehl is a 29-year-old criminal law attorney that is used

    Sophie Diehl is a 29-year-old criminal law attorney that is used to clients behind bars. With all the big partners out of town, Sophie is assigned to handle the intake interview for divorcee Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim, Mayflower descendant and daughter of the firm's most important client. Sophie warns the wife of 18 years that she's never handled a divorce before but Mia believes Sophie is the perfect lawyer to fight on her behalf. Hey, it's a first divorce for both women. Why not experience it together?




    The Divorce Papers is Susan Rieger's debut novel. I like that she didn't choose a traditional method to tell the story of a messy high-profile divorce handled by a cynical lawyer. It was much easier to follow through correspondence (personal emails, office memos, handwritten notes and legal documents). Great way to offer a direct window into the characters' lives.




    I read numerous reviews of how funny The Divorce Papers is. Even the front matter calls it "sometimes hilarious." Clearly I am missing something because I had zero LOL moments. I barely chuckled. To each its own comedy. Nevertheless, at just under 500 pages, it was an easy entertaining read.




    Literary Marie of Precision Reviews

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