Susan Rieger makes her debut with a masterfully clever novel, The Divorce Papers
One of Entertainment Weekly’s 14 Rising Stars to Watch in 2014
- Imprint: Crown Publishers
- On sale: March 18, 2014
- Price: $25.00
- Pages: 480
- ISBN: 9780804137447
“With a sharp take on the dissolution of a high-profile marriage, Rieger’s hilarious debut is sure to be a must-read for the summer—if you can wait that long.” —EW.com
“Clever and funny…. Lovers of the epistolary style will find much to appreciate. Rieger’s tone, textured structure, and lively voice make this debut a winner.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“A brutally comic chronicle of high-end divorce….Extremely clever.” —Kirkus (starred)
“Where Rieger excels is with her characters. Sophie and her crowd are witty, insightful, and interesting people….[A] refreshing and absorbing read.” —Booklist
“A modern epistolary novel of love, lawyers and email, The Divorce Papers is sharp, clever, funny, and unexpectedly tender.”
—Cathleen Schine, New York Times bestselling author of The Three Weissmanns of Westport
“Smart, sophisticated, and incredibly fun, The Divorce Papers brilliantly combines the pleasures of snooping with the delights of great storytelling. I raced through these charming pages and enjoyed every one.”
—Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles
“The Divorce Papers is terrific fun. I relished every last letter, memo, email, and legal brief in this sneakily clever, insidery peek into the world of privileged families and the lawyers who serve them.”
—Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians
Some years ago, Susan Rieger, a freshly minted lawyer, taught a law-school course on legal writing. As a classroom assignment, she asked the students to create Moot Court arguments. Rieger made up the law cases, with supporting statement of facts, statutes, and legal decisions. She was surprised by how much she enjoyed the entire exercise. Fast forward five years: Rieger was getting divorced and, despite her legal training, found herself at sea: “How do I get a lawyer? What can I expect in the way of child support or alimony? Could I lose custody? What does ‘equitable distribution’ mean? Will I end up a bag lady?” Post divorce, she drew on her classroom experience to write the enclosed wonderfully smart and entertaining debut novel, THE DIVORCE PAPERS (Crown; on sale March 18, 2014), a modern-day epistolary work that tells the story of a contentious divorce entirely through friendly and hostile emails, scorching and confessional letters, brisk memoranda, New Year’s cards, newspaper articles, interviews, cases, and laws. The reader gets pulled into a fascinating thicket of relationships, fights, and love affairs, much of it governed by money as well as emotion.
Twenty-nine-year-old criminal law associate Sophie Diehl works at a prestigious New England firm. She’s happy that most of her clients are behind bars; she dislikes face-to-face client contact. But one week, with all the firm’s divorce attorneys unavailable, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of one of its biggest clients. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating episode at a popular local restaurant. Witty and combative, she is furious at her ambitious doctor husband—who is having an affair—and worried he may fight her for custody of their ten-year-old daughter. Sophie informs Mia that she’s never handled a divorce before and is just there for the interview, but Mia insists on Sophie’s representation, saying she finds it reassuring—it’s her first divorce, too. The novel is Sophie’s story as well as Mia’s, and through them, we meet the men in their lives: attractive, intelligent, successful, and often difficult boyfriends, husbands, colleagues, and fathers. THE DIVORCE PAPERS reveals these characters at their most articulate and scathing, impulsive and thoughtful, and honest and endearing.
What begins as an account of a snarling divorce case opens up to a full, astonishingly rich portrait of moneyed life. With Balzacian relish, the novel exposes the financial affairs of couple at war—the way they use children, bank accounts, houses, cars, pets, even television sets as weapons. As she pursues her unwanted task, Sophie learns how to weather the rough-and-tumble of a first-class law firm, juggling her cases and maneuvering her way through office politics as well as the perils of her own romantic and family life.
SUSAN RIEGER was trained as a lawyer and has been a teacher of law, a college dean at Yale, an associate provost at Columbia, and a freelance journalist. She lives in New York City with her husband, New Yorker writer David Denby. She has a daughter, the novelist Maggie Pouncey, and three stepsons—Christian Pouncey, a construction engineer, Max Denby, a television writer and app developer, and Thomas Denby, a graduate student in linguistics.