The Divorce Party: A Novel

The Divorce Party: A Novel

by Laura Dave

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143115601
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,227,355
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Laura Dave is the international bestselling author of Eight Hundred Grapes, The First Husband, The Divorce Party, and London is the Best City in America. Her novels have been published in fifteen countries and optioned as major motion pictures. Dave's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Self, Redbook, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Santa Monica.

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 thata storm was coming that afternoon. That the army would haveto come in to resurrect the land that had once connectedMontauk to the rest of Long Island. That it would take twoweeks before the waters receded low enough at Napeague to letthrough emergency traffic. That Montauk residents would losealmost everything.

In the end, there were only a few exceptions. Near MontaukPoint, there were seven houses tucked so tightly to the bluffsthat the wind and the rain and the water couldn’t pull themdown. Seven sister houses built by the same architecture firm in1879, lived in each summer since by the same seven Manhattanfamilies. Their steely gates and strong foundations completelyintact. Their fireplaces and oak doors and stained- glass windowsmarking them, homes like trophies, on top of the end ofthe world.

The one at the farthest eastern tip was called HuntingtonHall—Hunt Hall by anyone who’d actually visited. It was theonly 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, themost successful publishing mogul in North America.When the hurricane hit, Champ Huntington was having sex.Lights on. Curtains drawn. Angry, late- afternoon sex. Annawas bent over the side of the bed, Champ behind her, his handcupping her throat.

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

Outside was all water and raging dark and storm. But in hisfaded 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’tindicate that something brutal was happening.

Other things were brutal. This first year of marriage. It waswrong. Anna’s dark hair in the sink. The meetings he didn’t reallyhave. 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 reachedout, held her toes. But he knew it just made her mad when hedid anything tender. It made her think he’d change, or want totry for her.

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

He headed to the bedroom window, naked, and had to reachout, 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 anythingat first.

Anna came up behind him, wrapped in the bedsheet, andthey stood there watching the train- wind through the window.They watched so hard that they didn’t talk. Not about the speedof the wind or the trees breaking apart or what must have beenhappening in the town center. If they had been thinking, theymight have moved away from the window. They might have beenscared that it would splinter. But they stood there until thestorm stopped, and started, and stopped for good. And thegreenish yellow sky turned purple and then black and the sun(or was it the moon?) rose up, terrifying. It was the sun. Theyhad 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 clothesand lacing up his work boots and walking out the front door. Hemade his way, by foot, across his land, down the slippery bluffsand tree- wrecked cliffs onto the flooded Napeague stretch anddown farther to Main Street. Three and a half miles. Into thecenter of the ruined village.

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

Champ pulled up his pant legs and made his way to theManor, where people were setting up shelter, where they weretrying to provide relief for themselves. And Champ set to workwith the other men moving cars and carrying wet wood andboarding windows and drying blankets and cleaning up slabsof broken glass.

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

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

It was hard to find his way back there in the dark. So he followedthe defeated shoreline, and eventually made his way upthe wooden staircase, into the bluffs, toward his home, whereeverything was still mostly together. Where Anna was waitingwith lit candles and tomato sandwiches, dark blankets spreadout on the living room floor.

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

“How was town?” she asked, her hand still on his chest. “Itried to pick up news on the radio, but there was no reception. Isthere 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. Itwas as simple as this: he could see her. For the first time in ayear, there was nowhere else he was trying to be.

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

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

Later, only thirty hours since he had last been lying t here,they were lying on the floor together, facing each other. And inthat strange way that we make decisions, the important decisionsthat ultimately make us, Champ decided that they weregoing 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 thetruth. The main truth, at least. This house had saved them.This big, beautiful cottage, which stayed big and beautiful despitethe destruction all around. Its stern banisters and woodceilings and determined rafters. The house had saved him, andhe wasn’t going to forget it.

He was going to build his life here, right here, in the name oflove and honor and what ever else he was feeling, even if hecouldn’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 comeout 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,” hesaid, “will see love. This house will see everything.”

What People are Saying About This

Jane Green

"A gem. Mature, and moving, and real, with extraordinary depth and feeling. Please go and buy it. You won't be disappointed."--(Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Beach House)

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 Firday Night Knitting Club)

Emily Giffin

"I love The Divorce Party for so many reasons. It is funny, absorbing, and heartwarming-like having a glass of wine with your most insightful friend. Laura Dave is an exquisite storyteller."--(Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of Love the One You're With)

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)

From the Publisher

"A revealing, honest portrait of how love binds us together-and drives us apart."
-Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club

" Events unfold over the course of a day, but the lessons learned have their roots in a lifetime."
-Elle

" Incredibly deft, utterly satisfying . . . I love every character. A triumph of a first novel!"
-Melissa Bank, author of The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing

"Elegant, accessible prose and compelling portraits of relationships."
- Cosmopolitan

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Gwyn Huntington knows how to throw a party. And Hunt Hall, her postcard-perfect Victorian home in Montauk at the easternmost tip of Long Island, is no stranger to celebrations. But on the morning of her thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, she’s putting finishing touches on the last party she’ll host there. The last time she’ll see Hunt Hall abuzz with caterers and bartenders. The last time she’ll preside over a gathering of beautiful friends chatting in candlelight. The last time she’ll fully play the role of Mrs. Thomas Huntington. Divorce parties have become commonplace, if not fashionable, in Montauk. But Gwyn is determined that hers will be different.

Just over one hundred miles away on the same morning, Maggie Mackenzie sits on the floor of her Brooklyn apartment attempting to organize her new life. A former travel writer, she’s fallen in love with a wonderful man, gotten engaged, and is planning to start a business with him. Today is also the day she’ll meet her fiancé’s parents for the first time. She’s feeling particularly uneasy about the occasion surrounding her first meeting with Nate’s family.

The Divorce Party takes us into the lives of these two women at opposite ends of marriage. For all the differences between them—distance, privilege, age—Gwyn and Maggie have one thing in common: Each has found herself at a crossroads. Gwyn has been preparing for this day, the last predictable day before an uncertain future. Even though she’s had time to come to terms with her divorce, she still can’t quite believe her marriage is over. How can she move on when her marriage has defined who she is for the last thirty-five years? And for Maggie, the emotionally charged trip to Montauk shakes the foundation of her relationship with Nate and dredges up feelings she has spent her life trying to avoid.

In the end, Gwyn and Maggie face the same questions: How hard should you work to stay with the person you love? And when is it time to let go?

 


ABOUT LAURA DAVE

Laura Dave is the author of the novels The Divorce Party and London is the Best City in America, both of which are in development at Universal Studios. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, The New York Times,Self, Redbook, ESPN the Magazine, and The New York Observer. She received her B.A. in English at the University of Pennsylvania and a graduate degree in creative writing at The University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in New York City.

 


A CONVERSATION WITH LAURA DAVE

Q. How did you get the idea for The Divorce Party?

Since I first learned about divorce parties, I have been intrigued by them. On one level, a divorce party makes sense to me as a concept: Let’s celebrate what we’ve had, as opposed to letting it end acrimoniously. On another level, I think marital break-ups are difficult for a reason: They are supposed to be. Something sacred between two people has broken down. Yet regardless of how we may personally feel about the idea of divorce parties, they are gaining a phenomenal momentum—and I wanted to explore this within the context of one family.

This is the first novel to explore the world of divorce parties. My novel also ended up exploring in equal measure how we build a life with someone and how we keep that life secure.

Q. The setting of the novel plays a big role in the story. Why did you choose Montauk?

I have always been drawn to towns on the end of the earth: fishing towns, cliffside towns, towns with more ocean surrounding them than land. They require something different of their inhabitants. Living in a city there are so many distractions, so many ways to avoid knowing what is really going on inside of you, inside of your closest relationships. The quiet in Montauk—the solitude and isolation there—requires an attention to one’s own life that I greatly admire.

I also like the juxtaposition of people who live in Montauk year-round and the summer people, who come in and try to take over for a while. There seems to be a reclaiming that occurs perennially—an acknowledgment each September that this place is ours—which is incredible to witness. That type of devotion to one’s home isn’t unlike what is necessary to keep a marriage strong or to keep a family together.

Q. What prompted you to write the novel from two perspectives? Do you think the novel would have been different with a single narrator?

Maggie was originally the sole narrator of The Divorce Party. It was going to be, more simply, a story of a woman struggling through the fast and hard realization that the life she was signing up for would be much different than she’d imagined. .

But when I began writing a scene with Maggie’s mother-in-law Gwyn, my compassion for her was so ardent that I thought: There is something on this side of the story too. In fact, this is the other side of the same story. To truly understand what it means to sign up for one’s own life, we need to consider that despite our best intentions life can fall apart one day. At these very different life stages that Maggie and Gwyn find themselves in, there turn out to be the same difficult questions: What matters most to me and what am I willing to risk? And what, in this life, am I brave enough to fight for?

Q. By following two women at such different points in their marriages, did you hope to explore something specific about marriage or relationships in general?

I am interested in the question of forgiveness. Clearly, being able to truly forgive is necessary in order to stay with one person over the course of a lifetime, and certainly necessary if two people are to remain in love with each other. .

I believe that there is no weakness in forgiveness. But we are conditioned these days to think that there is, that the brave thing is to move on when someone disappoints us. It makes it hard to make a relationship work, especially long-term, if the premium is as much on leaving as it is on figuring out a way to stay. .

A Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, wrote an amazing book called When Things Fall Apart, in which she talks about how the only way to stay in a sweat lodge—to experience all of the good and bad it brings—is to not sit near the exit. Because if you are sitting near the exit, you will find a reason to use it. I wanted to explore the idea that to find the joy in your relationship or marriage—to be present for it, to help it grow more sacred—you can’t be looking for a way out of it. .

Q. Which story was more of a challenge to tell, Maggie’s or Gwyn’s?

Maggie actually turned out be a harder nut to crack. She didn’t know herself very well. Or, I should say, she was in conflict about knowing herself as well as she did. Until her hand was forced about halfway through the narrative, I wasn’t sure what she was going to do—when she was going to overreact, when she was going to get mad about the wrong (or right) thing. But once Maggie tapped in to her own culpability in the problems she and Nate were having, she had a new journey. She had to learn to let go of her false notion that someone else was going to magically make the contradictions within her own soul disappear. Maggie is a character who, for very valid reasons, is always going to struggle with wanting to cut and run. Her question becomes: Am I going to disappear, like usual, or will I figure out a way to fight that impulse? .

Q. Do you identify with any one of the characters more than the others?

I identify with so many of the characters, and I want to hug all of them! Especially Thomas. I want to shake him, and then I want to hug him and make some soup for him. But at the end of the day—or the end of today, at least—I think I identify most strongly with Nate. Like Nate, I have been tempted to hit the “begin again” button many times in my life, and I understand all too well his desire to protect the people he loves the most from everything. Even from himself. It is a misplaced desire, and one that gets those of us who have it into heaps of trouble. But there is little doubt that Nate’s heart is in the right place.

Q. Were you ever tempted to write a different ending for Gwyn and Thomas?

I am still tempted. I want Gwyn to have everything she wants, and I think there is so much genuine love and affection between Thomas and her. It is heartbreaking. But I also believe that sometimes the universe has more compelling plans for us than we have for ourselves. Having faith in that can be freeing. And I certainly think that is the case for Gwyn, and all that is next for her.

Q. Was the experience of writing this book different from your first, London Is the Best City in America?

Very different, yes. The Divorce Party was more difficult because I was dealing with two narrators. I wanted to figure out how their stories were speaking to each other, as well as speaking on their own, and, in the midst of this, I was also dealing with very painful topics. At times I felt subsumed by the stories I was trying to tell. But I couldn’t seem to make myself give up, which I am grateful for. Nothing worth having comes easy, right? And now that I’ve finally come to the end, I feel great pride in this book.

Q. Is it true that The Divorce Party is being made into a movie?

I am pleased to say yes! The movie rights to The Divorce Party were picked up by Universal Studios for Echo Films, Jennifer Aniston and Kristin Hahn’s new production company. I am so excited about that—I think it is going to be a great movie.

Q. What are you working on now?

I am working on my third novel, which takes place in Big Sur, California. It is a story about a thirty-three-year old woman, and her father, Kyle, who is a former San Francisco 49er, and who raised her alone from the time he was nineteen. This is the only time I’ve started a book by writing the final scene first. And I’m pretty sure—now that I’m talking about the scene—that I’m going to have to toss it. But while I still have it, I love it.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Nate suggests that people with some money act differently than people with a lot of money. What does he mean? If you were to come into a large sum of money, in what ways would you expect it to change you? How would you want your life to stay the same?
     
  • Gwyn seems to place most of the blame for her marital problems squarely on her husband. How much responsibility does Eve bear? Do you think Gwyn should have been harder on her? How much responsibility lies with Gwyn?
     
  • Put yourself in Maggie’s shoes. Would your trust in Nate be shattered? Do you think you’d be able to overcome your uncertainty about him? Is it ever best not to know the truth?
     
  • Do you think a divorce party is a good idea? Would you hold a celebration for a divorce or a break-up? Would you attend one?
     
  • How do you see Gwyn faring? What about her husband’s relationship with Eve? How do you expect it to evolve?
     
  • Should Gwyn have confronted Thomas earlier? How do you think their story would have been different?
     
  • In what ways has Maggie been affected by her mother’s leaving? What about Nate and Georgia? How have they been affected by their relationships with their parents?
     
  • Do you know women like Murphy? Why do you think she would make up a crazy story and make a stranger uncomfortable? Maggie could have avoided worrying about Murphy if she’d only confronted Nate about what Murphy said. If she’d come right out and asked him, do you think Maggie would have believed Nate’s denial?
     
  • Music is woven throughout The Divorce Party and is ultimately critical to the book’s resolution. Why is music such an important part of love stories?
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Divorce Party 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
    ANNTMASON More than 1 year ago
    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
    Twink More than 1 year ago
    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.
    harstan More than 1 year ago
    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
    donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
    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!
    bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    jessJD More than 1 year ago
    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
    ChicLitLover More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.
    eak321 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    It was a well written story- i wish the book was much longer - maybe there will be a continuation with maggie character
    theeclecticreview on LibraryThing 4 days ago
    This book gives ¿Meet the Parents¿ a new twist. Gwyn Huntington has been married 35 years to the day and she¿s having a divorce party¿ for herself. Her husband Thomas has claimed he is found religion and wants to move on, but she knows the real truth. What will Thomas do when she reveals her surprise?Maggie MacKenzie is engaged to Nate Huntington and they are planning to scrape enough money together to open a restaurant. As if that isn¿t enough she is meeting her future in-laws at their divorce party. She isn¿t thrilled. Even more surprising is that Nate has just told her that he is wealthy. Unfortunately, Nate has another surprise in store. Can she forgive and forget? Can she trust him again?Georgia is Nate¿s very pregnant unwed sister and her wayward boyfriend, Denis, is a no-show at the party. Will he be there to support Georgia, or will he continue to be the ne¿er do well in Georgia¿s parents¿ eyes?It is written in Gwyn and Maggie's words which are full of anger, humor, regret and hope. It is a good read for everyone and I read that Universal Studios has bought the movie rights.Thanks to Laura Dave and FSB Associates for sharing her book with me to review.
    Twink on LibraryThing 4 days ago
    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.
    jedziedz on LibraryThing 4 days ago
    This book chronicles two woman, one at the beginning of marriage and one at the end. During a divorce party on Long Island, both women uncover secrets about the men they love and must decide whether it is better to leave the relationship or stay and fight. 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.
    bridget3420 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
    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.
    danibrecher on LibraryThing 4 days ago
    East Coast WASPs are jockeying for invitations to the hottest social event of the season, and it¿s not the Black and White Ball. These days, in seaside enclaves from Bar Harbor to Hilton Head, the datebooks of the well-heeled are filled with a new type of (dis)engagement¿the divorce party. In her aptly titled new novel, Laura Dave invites her readers to a separation celebration.The Divorce Party follows the romantic misadventures of the über-rich Huntington family. Except for owning the swankiest house in Montauk, the Huntingtons prefer to hide their wealth by driving ancient Volvo station wagons and wearing hand-me-downs. The millions of dollars come in handy, though, when Mr. and Mrs. Huntington decide to divorce and host the biggest anti-commitment ceremony of all time.Food writer Maggie Mackenzie, fiancée of Huntington scion Nate, meets the family for the first time during this oddly feel-good event. Unaware that her betrothed is sitting on stacks of cash and is really named Champ, Maggie is broadsided with this information by her soon-to-be in-laws. Maggie prepares to walk home to New York City, understandably upset by Nate¿s lies and incredibly confident in the strength of her legs.Meanwhile, the Huntington¿s other child, Gwyn, is unmarried and pregnant by a French rocker named Denis (that¿s pronounced ¿Den-ee,¿ you philistine) who may or may not be coming to the party. In short, everybody¿s relationship is on the brink of ending by the time a nicely symbolic mini-hurricane arrives to make the party more interesting. If this plot sounds like standard fare for a chick flick, it might be helpful to note that this is the first novel to be adopted by Jennifer Aniston¿s new production company.Dave works with good material and ideas but falls back on standard chick lit plotting in the end. Tellingly, the divorce turns out not to be due to Mr. Huntington¿s conversion to Buddhism but something far more pedestrian. The most disappointing thing, however, is Dave¿s treatment of her female characters. Supposedly strong and independent, the Huntington women turn out to be willing to sacrifice themselves for their men¿s happiness.The strength of the novel clearly lies in the details. The pot-smoking, red velvet cake¿baking Mrs. Huntington is a memorable character not for her stoicism, but for her eccentricities. One of Nate¿s old flames is described as looking better from below, an acutely sharp insult. Naming the ex-girlfriend ¿Murph,¿ however, simply pushes the characterization from biting to ridiculous.For all her good intentions, Dave fails to create characters that are worth caring about. Everyone comes off as a bit too self-involved, looking out solely for themselves. There has rarely been a ¿happy¿ family as detached from one another as the Huntingtons. In the end, it¿s hard to sympathize with characters that constantly go into hysterics over each other¿s actions, only to return to the status quo. If you¿re looking for a fun, light read for the beach, this is one Party you can skip.Originally published in the Chicago Maroon.
    trishalynn0708 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
    I enjoyed this book. It was about two different women, each at different ends of their marriage. Gwyn and her husband of 30 some years are getting divorced and throwing a divorce party. And Maggie is with Nate, Gwyn's son. So Maggie and Gwyn know each other because of Gwyn's son. It was sad at some points in the book. Like when Gwyn is having doubts on if she is still in love with her husband, then she finds out what he is really doing, when he said that he was at Buddhism classes. And Nate is hiding an even bigger secret from Maggie, when she finds out she is upset and hurt that he could keep that big of a secret from her. I really liked this book, I think I connected more with Maggie. Probably because she is more of my age so I can kind of see where she is coming from. But both women struggle through the book, you can't help but feel sorry for them and want them to both be happy. I was hoping for a better ending for Gwyn. But the way the book ended made it seem like she is happy in her own way.
    jmchshannon on LibraryThing 4 days ago
    When I first read the marketing information about this book, I was intrigued. Divorce parties? Really? Isn't that all a bit...odd?It turns out that there are perfectly acceptable reasons for throwing a divorce party. While I may still be uncomfortable with the idea, I do see their merit, especially when the parting is amicable. However, in spite of its title, this book is not about divorce parties but about marriage and love and, just like the synopsis reads, what it takes to make it all work.After thirty-five years, you would think that Gwyn and Thomas know what it takes, but does anyone? And Maggie and Nate just starting out? How do you know when you are at the cusp of your life together? As Maggie and Gwyn's stories unfold, the reader becomes aware that no matter where you are in life, marriage takes work. Some people are willing to put forth the effort, and some just aren't. Some even get tired after several decades and no longer want to work at their marriage. To think that you get your happily-ever-after just by saying "I do" is naive and illogical.Rather than being uncomfortable with the book, as I was feeling based solely on its title, I enjoyed my time with Maggie and Gwyn. I felt their pain, wanted to comfort them as they each struggled to figure out just what amount of effort they were willing to put forth. It also got me thinking about my own marriage and my willingness to stick with it when the going gets tough (it confirmed my belief that my marriage is worth all the blood, sweat and tears). Rather than depressed, I felt renewed and regenerated. Not bad for a book with an ominous title like The Divorce Party.One of the things I enjoyed the most was the writing itself. Ms. Dave made me not only picture Montauk but made me want to pack up my house and move there. Her descriptions are delicious, and the reader truly gets the impression of what life is like there. Her ability to discuss philosophical relationship issues while getting you to sympathize the characters must be commended. It would be all too easy to forgo one or the other, but she does both with ease.The Divorce Party has been optioned by a production company in Hollywood. One can easily see why, as it has lush surroundings, pertinent questions regarding marriage and love, humor and pathos all rolled into one package. However, there is something to be said about taking your own journey through the questions asked by each character while they are asking the questions, to be able to answer them as they pertain to your own life. Any movie will not give you this ability to do so. It is the one thing that will stick with me for a long time.I thoroughly enjoyed this book, more so than I ever imagined. While it could be considered "chick lit", some of the topics and questions faced by the characters make it more introspective fare than your traditional "chick lit". I would recommend this for anyone facing their own relationship crossroads or anyone looking for an intriguing read.Thanks to Anna Suknov at FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book!
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    Bookwoorm More than 1 year ago
    Really, dreadfully boring. Nothing happens. And I really hate to write bad reviews.
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