Susan Rieger does not have an M.F.A.; rather her first book comes after a successful legal career that included a teaching stint at Yale. This experience informs The Divorce Papers, an epistolary novel written in memos that PW called “clever and funny” in a starred review. The book will be released in March by Crown.
The novel features criminal lawyer Sophie Diehl, who is forced to handle a sloppy divorce case for Mia Durkheim, daughter of one of the firm’s most important clients. Lindsay Sagnette at Crown purchased the book in a preempt negotiated by Kathy Robbins of the Robbins Office. Sagnette says, “By page four, [Rieger] had me, hook, line, and sinker. I don’t think I moved until the book’s final salvo. A book this hilarious, substantive, and fun doesn’t come easily—even if Susan makes it look like it does.”
Despite the novel’s page-turning quality, Rieger says the story “had a long gestation period.” Though she began writing in 1999, when the book begins, she stopped three years later, distracted by a move to New York and a new job at Columbia University. “With writing, I have a threshold problem,” she says. “TIC—or getting my tush in the chair. Once I’m in the chair, I can work for hours. But I can spend hours avoiding it; I have to set myself deadlines.” She didn’t resume serious work until 2009, turning in a draft to Robbins in 2011.
Sagnette is grateful to Rieger’s history in the courtroom. “As a reader, I’d like to personally thank every case that helped make Sophie Diehl such an endearing and reluctant hero. The Divorce Papers wouldn’t be the laugh-out-loud, poignant, and unforgettable reading experience it is without her charging through the pages.”