My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Description: 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.
My thoughts: This book is marketed as humorous and romantic. There was some of that but not much. The truth is that literary and movie references were distracting as we're the side stories of Sophie's personal love life. What I found of most value in this book is the main story which could have been aptly named "The Anatomy if a Divorce." Sophie is rooted into a divorce case which causes bad blood within the firm. The details of the political landscape added to the meat of the story.
The real story is the divorce itself and the rules of how letters treat other lawyers. It's a divorces and the couple live in a no fault state which is explained. The book breaks the intricacies of a divorce down into terms that can be understood and I will never look at the process the same. It's not cut and dried. Even if he is guilty of infidelity or she is, it's still a process.
The reader is spared the details of a custody battle, for the most part. Much too often a couple uses their children as leverage to gain more money because that's what it all comes down to. There is still the give and take off terms of child support which gives the reader a glimpse of the legal ramifications and the games lawyers play, but it could have been worse. The child does suffer, even if the split is amicable.
This should be required reading for anybody contemplating a divorce. I thought it was a well portrayed anatomy of how a divorced works.