Tina Jordan
March 19, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Divorce Papers

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Susan Rieger
publisher
Crown
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries epistolary novels were everywhere — Dracula, anyone? But these days you don’t see many, maybe in part because people don’t write letters anymore. The Divorce Papers, a comic novel about the dissolution of a marriage, is told not just through letters but through emails, memos, legal filings, and depositions, most of them by Sophie Diehl, the young lawyer representing the wife. Sophie normally handles criminal cases for her firm and is none too happy about the assignment. ”I cannot do a divorce,” she writes her boss. ”I am not only ill equipped legally, I am ill equipped temperamentally. I don’t like client contact. I suspect it’s why I settled on criminal work.” It’s the appealingly oddball Sophie who gives this novel its soul, not the Mayflower-descendant wife or her doctor husband. Rieger hits the humor a little too hard in spots, at one point veering into slapstick. But a few over-the-top vignettes don’t lessen the pleasure of The Divorce Papers, which brims with brio and wit. A-

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