Book Review | The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

the divorce papers

This book was challenging for me.  It was the first time I’d ever read an epistolary book.  Though the format is tedious, the plot was well carried out throughout the many pages of correspondence between a lawyer, named Sophie Diehl and the many people she interacts with.  If you’ve never read epistolary format, it is not typical paragraphs with dialogue.  A story is essentially told through the pages of emails, forms, handwritten notes, etc.

Sophie, our main character, works at a law firm in a small town and acquired a divorce case when another partner in the firm was out of town. Sophie’s specialty was criminal law, so the divorce case intimidated her. She tried to withdraw numerous times in spite of her boss’s insistence. The defendant, Mia Durkheim, connected with Sophie during the intake and requested that she represent her against her wealthy cardiologist husband who is having an affair.  Once Sophie was retained, the partner who was out of town, returned and fought to acquire the divorce case since she was more equipped.  The battle between the two women is well documented in the book.

Since Sophie lacked experience and was uncomfortable with putting together the necessary legal forms for this case, she leaned on her firms’ managing partner, David Greaves, through memorandums and emails to direct her steps.  Sophie came across very juvenile and indecisive in her thought process, as evidenced by her lengthy emails which include EVERY thought she has.  She couldn’t seem to make any decision on her own, and was constantly emailing her friend Maggie for insight/advice.  I found that to be annoying at times, but managed to understand why later in the book when she explained her home life and parents’ divorce.  Since she had lived through a divorce as a child, she was constantly uncertain and second-guessing herself.  It was a big reason for her fear in handling the Durkheim case.

There are a few plot twists in the book and moments of putting a hand over your mouth in shock which leverage my higher rating, however I feel that the book could have accomplished more, had it been written in the traditional style.  The numerous legal documents (which are part of divorce proceedings in reality) are incredibly boring and take away the pleasure of reading.  I am not a lawyer, so I tend to not want to read legal jargon and proposals.  However, for law students, or those who like a good book about legal cases, this is a read for you.  Just be prepared to read through documents as you would in reality.  I’ll admit I skipped a few.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Crown Publishing Group’s book review bloggers program (http://www.bloggingforbooks.org/).  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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