Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Divorce Papers - Susan Rieger

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. Read an excerpt of The Divorce Papers.


bermudaonion said...

I like that format too - too bad it got bogged down with legal jargon.

Janet Greene said...

I enjoy watching legal shows and reading books related to the law. It sounds like a good read, even if all the legal documentation turns out to be a bit much. I will probably enjoy that aspect!

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

This looks really cool. Thank you for sharing. I'll have to look it up.