Broadway Books, November 2014
Disclosure: I received a review copy via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
The Divorce Papers is a novel in the form of a legal file for a bitter divorce between a wealthy couple in a fictional state very much like Massachusetts. Sophie Diehl is a young criminal lawyer roped into doing her first divorce case, and a very high-stakes one at that. Besides the legal file, we are also privy to her email correspondence with her best friend, an aspiring actress, as well as quite a bit of correspondence relating to human resources issues going on within her law firm. It’s an epistolary novel that breaks its own rules a bit: it’s more than just the case file. And also rest assured that the legal writing is not nearly as dry as it would be in real life.
I am very glad that this is a book with emotional heft, which I was not expecting at the outset. Rieger is very smart about the effect of divorce on children both in the throes of divorce and as they grow up. There are a couple aspects of the storytelling that niggled at me: Rieger’s writing of crucial legal opinions that were part of the file were just not realistic (the statements of fact felt very novelistic), and the characters bringing up so many literary allusions felt like the author stretching a bit to give this story more weight. It’s strange to call a divorce story an enjoyable read, but that’s my conclusion.