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2.5 out of 5 stars
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on 14 June 2014
Sadly, just one star from me as I was unable to finish The Divorce Papers. Instantly, I disliked the concept of the book being told via emails - it was all too messy and disjointed a read, just couldn't flow.
Then it started to feel that I was a trainee divorce lawyer, the prose got so consistently legal.
I decided to give up at the point where I was skipping entire paragraphs in the hope of getting to an interesting bit... but I was just too bored.
Not for me at all, unfortunately.
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on 3 April 2014
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. Rieger has set her book in 1999. I wonder if that's the time frame she's most familiar with legally? I think the book would be more relevant if it was set in present day.

Rieger is a talented writer and I enjoyed The Divorce Papers and this format, but not quite as much as I was hoping to
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on 20 March 2014
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.

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, intermittently redundant but consistently readable and engrossing.
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on 18 March 2014
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. She knows what she wants and is ready to fight for her rights and I really liked her attitude.
While I like books where the story is told through e-mails/letters/entries in the guestbook, this one totally didn't work out for me. There is too less plot and too much uninteresting facts. And while it could really work out, it has totally failed for me and was off - putting.

Back to the synopsis. It claims the book is "Witty and wonderful, sparkling and sophisticated, debut romantic comedy". Well, let me tell you, I haven't laughed, I haven't even smiled reading it, and to be totally honest, am still wondering about the romantic comedy bit. Where is romance? Where is comedy? Did I miss something?

So, in short, this book was like some kind of a divorce - guide, help for law students but not a story that I could read as my normal, light book. It just lacked purpose for me, I have expected something totally different and am mostly disappointed. I wanted a story, not actual legal documents. I am sure there was a potential in this book, I am sure the author gave her best and I really appreciate her efforts, I am only really sorry it was not my cup of tea. Perhaps next book.

Copy received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a review.
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