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The Divorce Papers: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Susan Rieger
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 17815 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (18 Mar. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FDS7AY8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #112,232 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loved the style, but too much legalese 3 April 2014
By Luanne Ollivier TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
3.5/5 The Divorce Papers is Susan Rieger's debut novel.

I quite liked the cover (it seemed to promise a fun read) and was excited about the epistolary style Rieger chose for her novel. I really like this format - it makes the reader feel like they are much more involved with the story, almost as if you're reading the documents, letters and notes at your own desk. This style also makes it easy to see the story from many viewpoints, with having to depend on one narrator.

Sophie Diehl is a criminal lawyer at a firm in New England. When the partners who would normally handle a divorce for a wealthy client's daughter are unavailable, Sophie is asked to conduct the intial interview with Mia. Just the one. Until Mia decides that Sophie is the only lawyer she wants.

Through the aforementioned notes, letters, documents etc., we come to know Sophie and her life very intimately - her best friend, her lover, her own family, and her boss and peers at the law firm. I was truly drawn to Sophie - she was wonderfully engaging and I became invested in her story. I also liked Mia - her missives are a little more heated. Who I did feel sorry for was Jane, the eleven year old daughter of the divorcing couple - it was heartbreaking to read the letters she pens. The rivalry amongst the lawyers was amusing as well. Rieger has done a great job with the personal correspondence.

Rieger is a lawyer, so she's writing what she knows. But for this reader, I became bogged down in some of the 'lawyerese'. Initially I read every document, but soon start glossing over case law excerpts and financial charts. It was too much information that seemed like an actual case. I was more interested in the people, and not so much with the dollar values and legal jargon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MARITAL SPLIT = SURGICALLY DIVIDING THE ASSETS 20 Mar. 2014
By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I am probably one of the few individuals who truly loves epistolary novels. I enjoy the voyeuristic aspect of this genre. It's akin to steaming open someone's personal mail or sneaking a peak at their diary where they divulge their innermost thoughts and feelings allowing the reader to observe fully fleshed out characters foibles, warts and all . They also allow the story to develop from various unguarded points of view. DRACULA and THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY are two of my all time favorites. (How is that for two books from the opposite ends of the spectrum?) Another plus for the epistolary style is that the story also moves along pretty quickly since it is usual for most of the "chapters" to be more than a page or two in length.

Author Susan Rieger's foray into the epistolary, THE DIVORCE PAPERS, is a novel about the end of a seventeen year marriage told via letters, e-mails, inter-company memos and legal filings. Sophie Diehl is a young liberal lawyer who normally handles criminal cases for the law firm of Traynor, Hand and Wyzanski but suddenly finds herself representing the socially connected Marie Durkheim in a contentious divorce action. She is less than pleased with her assignment since it is out of the realm of her expertise and she feels ill equipped, both legally and emotionally, to handle the case.

Via her correspondence with others and their responses, we follow Sophie through her days as she oversees and handles her clients, copes with various associates within her law firm, leans heavily on a special friend named Maggie for advice and support, matches wits with a less than ethical opposing lawyer and dips a hesitant toe into the turbulent waters of love. It's quite a juggling act, but Sophie is more prepared for than even she realizes.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Divorce Papers 18 Mar. 2014
By Agi TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
After reading synopsis for The Divorce Papers, which, as you can see for yourself, is full of praise and applause, I have thought it's a book for me. I was sure it is going to be a warm, partly fluffy, funny read and so I requested this book.

I didn't expect that I am going to get book full of professional writings, letters, e - mails, court documents, legal articles, which were far away from warm, fluffy or funny. I think this kind of documents can be interesting for lawyers or those who are studying law but not for me, your typical Jones, hoping for a spicy divorce story, full of hooking details and anecdotes.

Sophie isn't a divorce lawyer, she is a crime lawyer, but must spring for her colleagues. She should just handle the first interview with the client, Mia Meiklejohn Durheim and then forget about the case. But Mia thinks Sophie is the best lawyer for her and doesn't want any other experienced in divorce one, a fact that not all of Sophie's co - workers accept.
And that's actually the whole plot.
The rest is full of legal writing.

The author tried to lighten the plot a little and let Sophie tell us about her private life in form of e - mails to her best friend. But, to be totally honest, I couldn't care less about this part of the book, the e - mails were long and for me totally uninteresting. I am also sorry to say that mostly this book was uninteresting for me, the e - mail conversations between Sophie and David could take place as dialogues and in my opinion they would be much more interesting then because we would have had a real, live banter.
What gave this book two stars was Mia Meiklejohn, she was the most interesting and colourful person in the whole novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  334 reviews
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for lawyers, and not for non-lawyers 1 April 2014
By TheReader436 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am 29 -- the same age as Sophie Diehl -- and a matrimonial attorney, and I spent much of my time reading wondering whether those facts meant that this book was meant for me, or not meant for me.

Much of the reading felt like homework -- reviewing statutes, case law and court papers. I can't decide whether seeing these documents as a non-lawyer would be more interesting, or dry and confusing. I'll leave that conclusion to others.

What really bugged me was the little things. Sophie is perfect, which always gets on my nerves. She's brilliant (obviously she went to Yale law school, because in movies and books no competent attorney goes anywhere else) and in high-demand in every area of her life, but still tries to play the hapless I'm-just-trying-to-get-my-shit-together role. If you're a 29-year-old associate and clients and partners alike are fawning over you, you're doing OK. One of the partners in the firm signed his INTEROFFICE MEMOS to her with "love," which is a lawsuit in and of itself. Sophie flirts constantly with her overseeing partner, also in interoffice memos, while they alternately congratulate and chide each other for having read or not read certain classical works. I heard a lot about how French people, English people and Americans act, which I always find obnoxious. The French are not inherently cool, the English are not inherently cold and Americans are not inherently loud and impatient. Strike, strike.

I definitely got tired of hearing about what miserable creatures divorce lawyers are (this from a private criminal defense attorney. Okay.).

Maybe some will find this to be a cute wink/nod, but the single thing that annoyed me the most was that Ms. Rieger name-dropped her own husband towards the end of the book. Sophie comments on the brilliance of "Denby," no first name necessary, apparently. I guess that's cute, but it just felt like the final in-joke in a 450-pg collection of in-jokes.

Overall, I was bored and disappointed.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MARITAL SURGERY - SEPARATING THE ASSETS 20 Mar. 2014
By Red Rock Bookworm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am probably one of the few individuals who truly loves epistolary novels. I enjoy the voyeuristic aspect of this genre. It's akin to steaming open someone's personal mail or sneaking a peak at their diary where they divulge their innermost thoughts and feelings allowing the reader to observe fully fleshed out characters foibles, warts and all . They also allow the story to develop from various unguarded points of view. DRACULA and THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY are two of my all time favorites. (How is that for two books from the opposite ends of the spectrum?) Another plus for the epistolary style is that the story also moves along pretty quickly since it is unusual for most of the "chapters" to be a page or two in length.

Author Susan Rieger's foray into the epistolary, THE DIVORCE PAPERS, is a novel about the end of a seventeen year marriage told via letters, e-mails, inter-company memos and legal filings. Sophie Diehl is a young liberal lawyer who normally handles criminal cases for the law firm of Traynor, Hand and Wyzanski but suddenly finds herself representing the socially connected Marie Durkheim in a contentious divorce action. She is less than pleased with her assignment since it is out of the realm of her expertise and she feels ill equipped, both legally and emotionally, to handle the case.

Via her correspondence with others and their responses, we follow Sophie through her days as she oversees and handles her clients, copes with various associates within her law firm, leans heavily on a special friend named Maggie for advice and support, matches wits with a less than ethical opposing lawyer and dips a hesitant toe into the turbulent waters of love. It's quite a juggling act, but one that Sophie is more prepared for than even she realizes.

Any further "overview" might ruin the picture of a divorce that Ms. Rieger paints. Just know that what transpires between the covers of this 450+ page tome is intermittently humorous and droll, often enlightening and insightful, occasionally poignant, sometimes redundant but consistently readable and engrossing.
39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I lost the witty and sparkling, and found a story that was overburdened 19 Mar. 2014
By Gaele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I was curious to see how Reiger would incorporate the story into something that would be readable and not too dry with legal citations and explanations. I was expecting a romantic comedy, with SOME factual detail presented when needed. Somewhere in all of the 480 pages of this novel, I lost the witty and sparkling, and found a story that was overburdened with large swaths of text that was explanatory or legal, and thus wholly missable but for the sentence that contained the “you can do this but not that” piece. Sophie as a character was completely unsteady, not only would I not want her for a divorce lawyer, but I wouldn’t necessarily want her in any other case.

Memos from Sophie were often completely unprofessional and wavered from topic to topic without any sense of order. While there was the germ of a good story: young lawyer perhaps gets in over her head in a messy divorce and suffers the usual crises of confidence that such an opportunity would bring to a head: the story was lost in too much tell, not enough show, and little heart or humor to make the story flow.

Readers who do not mind meandering, and are obsessed with the minute details of divorce law as it applies in this fictional case may find this to their taste, for me it was too much tortured detail.

I received an eBook copy from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Epistolary Novel 24 Mar. 2014
By Mary Lins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I think it would be difficult enough to write a novel (I’ve never been able to do it!) but I’d guess it is an even bigger challenge to write a coherent, interesting, character-driven epistolary novel using notes, letters, emails, forms, bills, documents, and depositions; an epistolary novel in the modern fashion (a la, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semple). Susan Rieger, in her new novel, "The Divorce Papers", manages it.

Sophie, a young attorney, gets roped into doing her first divorce case – against her wishes (she’s a criminal lawyer) and the ensuing “file” is what makes up this unique novel. It’s interesting, witty and sad (divorce is always sad) and it makes for pretty compelling reading. But I don’t think it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea; readers who prefer a straight narrative may grow tired of the many documents and legal-speak paperwork.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inauthentic, Sophomoric and Pretentious 1 Dec. 2014
By Chardeaux - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy reading those tedious instructions that accompany medications or power tools, you'll love this book. It's every bit as riveting. I cannot remember having read a more boring book. I can read the phone book and finish it. But this I could not finish. Getting two thirds of the way through took Herculean effort.
Aside from never ending lists of crushingly dull lawyer speak which wouldn't interest the dimmest lawyer, this book features characters so plastic that the reader invariably ends up hating every last one of them. I despised Sophie. If I met her, I would be hard pressed not to immediately slap her. And the level of pretentiousness is astronomical. Money is constantly mentioned. And re-mentioned. The author must have diligently searched Bartlett's for every quote from every writer and then ascribed them to various characters in hopes of making them sound interesting. A conversation with a rhesus monkey would be more compelling.
I hate it when a writer makes her characters "quirky" in hopes of making them endearing. It makes me actively dislike them instead. I certainly loathed all those who populated this dreadful novel. Everyone is so accomplished. So well-read. So educated. Has such interesting friends. Such accomplished parents. Such exquisite tastes. Such prescient children. Oh shut up! This isn't writing, this is verbal diarrhea. The book is sophomoric. On the plus side it's also a soporific, nice if you're suffering from insomnia.
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