I’ve been a bit lapsed lately in my book reviewing, mostly because I’m trying to target my own genre for reviews. But I also read nearly everything, so expect a wide variety of reviews to start appearing (when I get around to doing them). This review is going to be short — I could barely get through this book.
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
This epistolary about a New England lawyer tackling a divorce case is at times charming and at times a slog. As with most epistolary novels, I struggled with the disconnection from the characters. The entire book is recorded correspondence between the characters — Sophie Diehl, the lawyer, Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim, the divorcee, and a slew of side characters.
As such, it’s difficult to get in the mindset of the characters and a lot of the character building comes across as forced. The physical descriptions of the characters, for instance, are done through email correspondence, which seemed very uncomfortable and unnatural to me.
Sophie is a fun character prone to snark, but her personality comes across trapped as we only see it through correspondence. Again, another downside of the epistolary novel. As the title suggests, the novel is a compilation of divorce papers, interspersed with emails and memos between Sophie and her boss, and inexplicably, Sophie and her friends.
I think this is a novel for lawyers, who will perhaps enjoy the fictionalized depiction of a divorce. Too often, the novel reads like legal documents — as there are literally legal sheets included in the files. I found it incredibly difficult to actually read through those, and ended up skipping over those.
Altogether, I find it a disappointing novel completely restricted by the style the author selected. Epistolary novels are incredibly difficult, but this one came across more stilted and formal than most. Again, I recommend this for lawyers seeking fiction — I think lawyers were the intended audience.