The Divorce Party
by Laura Dave
reviewed by Kelly Y. Smith, Guest reviewer
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Set in Montauk at the family home, Huntington Hall, The Divorce Party takes a look at the lives of two women, Gwyn Huntington and her (soon-to-be?) daughter-in-law, Maggie, as they each navigate the status of their respective relationships; Gwyn with husband Thomas and Maggie with Nate, Gwyn and Thomas’s son. Gwyn and Thomas are throwing themselves a Divorce Party, which, it appears, is the civilized thing to do when a marriage of thirty-some years runs its course and the couple have nothing but respect and admiration for one another. Maggie is invited to the party by Nate, which is the first time that Maggie will be meeting Gwyn and Thomas. Maggie thinks the occasion is a bit odd for a first time meeting but goes along with it.
Once at the house; however, Maggie senses an underlying current that questions the seeming civility of the celebration of Gwyn and Thomas’ divorce and discovers things about Nate that make her seriously question their relationship. It becomes apparent that Gwyn, while the picture of the content wife and planner of the party, is harboring knowledge of her husband that makes the rationale behind the divorce party completely misleading. At precisely the right moment, nature shines a spotlight on the cracks and fissures in the relationships of the family, forcing them to become utterly honest with each other and themselves.
I found myself enjoying this book, especially the character of Gwyn Huntington. You can almost feel exactly what she’s feeling but I did find myself hoping that, just once, Gwyn would drop her careful facade and really let go. The first chapter of the book is set sixty-nine years prior to the divorce party and lays out, through the characters of Thomas’s parents, the how and why the family chose to reside full-time at Huntington Hall. It doesn’t relate very much at all to the rest of the novel, especially since Thomas’ parents are referenced in the remainder of the book only once or twice so I found it to be almost unnecessary. Other than that, this book would be a nice read for a quiet afternoon.