Title: The Divorce Party
Author: Laura Dave
Release Date: May 15, 2008
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
On their 35th anniversary, Gwyn Huntington and her husband Thomas have invited friends and family to their Montauk home. Instead of celebrating their decades-long love, they are toasting their divorce. This also marks the weekend that their son brings home his fiancée, Maggie Mackenzie, for the first time. Maggie thought she was joining a perfect family, but she is about to reckon with some uncomfortable truths about the man she wants to marry.
A multi-generational story about what it means to share a life with someone, The Divorce Party brings us two immensely appealing women: Gwyn who is stumbling upon the end of her marriage, and Maggie, her future-daughter-in-law, who is trying to navigate the beginning of hers. With emotional candor and surprising humor, these two women find themselves trying to answer the same questions: Can you ever really know someone? When should you fight for the person you love most, and when should you begin to let him go?
Laura Dave’s The Divorce Party really surprised me. When I picked it up, I was expecting a light, humorous, chick lit-type novel. The vibe I got from the cover and title was most definitely “beach read.” Once I opened the book, though, it was clear that The Divorce Party was much more than I’d originally thought it would be.
Though The Divorce Party deals with a lot of women’s issues, and is told from the point of view of two women, I would argue it falls just as much into the contemporary fiction category as it does into women’s fiction. The novel has unexpected depth, deals with serious issues, and is quietly contemplative. It’s one of those books that really makes you think. Additionally, the literary quality of Laura Dave’s writing makes this little novel much more than it originally seems.
Indeed, the writing is what made The Divorce Party such a joy to read. Dave’s writing is simply beautiful. She writes with such emotion behind each word, which works very well for this novel. Her writing style gives the book additional weight and makes it much more of a literary work of fiction. Here is one of my favorite passages from this novel:
“How do you avoid getting here? How do you pull your daughter back from such a sad place? If this sadness is something she has passed on, she wants to take it back, take all of it back and bear the burden herself. Make different choices, be braver, do just about anything so her daughter thinks she is worthy of getting everything she needs as opposed to trying to figure out how to be better at giving it away.”
Additionally, the two narrators of this novel, Maggie and Gwyn, are very well-written and easy to like. Through them, Dave explores such difficult subjects as lies, betrayal, love, and being true to oneself. It’s a lot of ground to cover in such a small book as this, and Dave does it very well.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Divorce Party and highly recommend it to both readers of women’s fiction and contemporary fiction. This is an engaging and beautiful novel that will stick with you for a long time after you put it down.