Author: Laura Dave
No. of Pages: 244
First Released: 2008
Synopsis (Courtesy of FSB Associates): “Gwyn Huntington knows how to throw a party. And Hunt Hall, her postcard-perfect Victorian home in Montauk at the easternmost tip of Long Island, is no stranger to celebrations. But on the morning of her and her beloved husband Thomas’ thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, she’s putting the finishing touches on the last party they’ll host there: their divorce party.
Just over one hundred miles away, Gwyn’s future daughter-in-law, Maggie Mackenzie, sits on the floor of her Brooklyn apartment attempting to organize her new life. She’s in love with a wonderful man, and today she is meeting his family for the first time.
The Divorce Party brings together two immensely appealing women, one who is stumbling upon the end of her marriage, and one who is just beginning hers. Both are asking themselves how much work is it worth to keep two people together. This is a multi generational love story full of humor, candor, and a powerful message about how to commit to someone over the course of a lifetime.”
Comments and Critiques: When I first read the marketing information about this book, I was intrigued. Divorce parties? Really? Isn’t that all a bit…odd?
It turns out that there are perfectly acceptable reasons for throwing a divorce party. While I may still be uncomfortable with the idea, I do see their merit, especially when the parting is amicable. However, in spite of its title, this book is not about divorce parties but about marriage and love and, just like the synopsis reads, what it takes to make it all work.
After thirty-five years, you would think that Gwyn and Thomas know what it takes, but does anyone? And Maggie and Nate just starting out? How do you know when you are at the cusp of your life together? As Maggie and Gwyn’s stories unfold, the reader becomes aware that no matter where you are in life, marriage takes work. Some people are willing to put forth the effort, and some just aren’t. Some even get tired after several decades and no longer want to work at their marriage. To think that you get your happily-ever-after just by saying “I do” is naive and illogical.
Rather than being uncomfortable with the book, as I was feeling based solely on its title, I enjoyed my time with Maggie and Gwyn. I felt their pain, wanted to comfort them as they each struggled to figure out just what amount of effort they were willing to put forth. It also got me thinking about my own marriage and my willingness to stick with it when the going gets tough (it confirmed my belief that my marriage is worth all the blood, sweat and tears). Rather than depressed, I felt renewed and regenerated. Not bad for a book with an ominous title like The Divorce Party.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was the writing itself. Ms. Dave made me not only picture Montauk but made me want to pack up my house and move there. Her descriptions are delicious, and the reader truly gets the impression of what life is like there. Her ability to discuss philosophical relationship issues while getting you to sympathize the characters must be commended. It would be all too easy to forgo one or the other, but she does both with ease.
The Divorce Party has been optioned by a production company in Hollywood. One can easily see why, as it has lush surroundings, pertinent questions regarding marriage and love, humor and pathos all rolled into one package. However, there is something to be said about taking your own journey through the questions asked by each character while they are asking the questions, to be able to answer them as they pertain to your own life. Any movie will not give you this ability to do so. It is the one thing that will stick with me for a long time.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, more so than I ever imagined. While it could be considered “chick lit”, some of the topics and questions faced by the characters make it more introspective fare than your traditional “chick lit”. I would recommend this for anyone facing their own relationship crossroads or anyone looking for an intriguing read.
Thanks to Anna Suknov at FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book!