This novel tells the intertwining stories of two women: There’s Maggie, a young woman engaged
to a man she thinks she knows; and Gwyn, an older woman (and mother of Maggie’s fiancé) who’s
launching a divorce party as her marriage falls apart. The two women have their initial meeting
during this turbulent time, which also happens to be the anniversary of the 1938 hurricane.
Set in Montauk, New York, in the present day, the events of the past weigh heavily on all the
characters and their struggling relationships. Maggie learns some shocking revelations about her
fiancé's childhood and young adulthood that have her wondering what other secrets he’s been keeping
from her. Gwyn also finds that her husband, Thomas, has dark secrets that could destroy what’s left
of the family.
The planned feeding frenzy (complete with a special caterer and Gwyn’s renowned red velvet cake)
and the building tensions of all involved culminate during the disastrous divorce party. Intended
as a graceful exit to a long and mostly satisfying marriage, the party holds more than a few
surprises for the guests and hosts.
Laura Dave deftly weaves together the two stories, plus additional flashbacks to what happened
at the house in earlier years. She also highlights one of society’s newest trends: a divorce party
to honor the end of a marriage. The interesting story that slowly unfolds includes many truisms about
relationships. However, despite careful attention to physical descriptions and personality traits of
the characters, Dave makes each voice sound the same. With virtually every character speaking with
the same cadence and in the same style, it’s difficult to remember which person said what and to whom.
The truisms seem to blend together like the dull roar at a party—divorce or otherwise. Apart
from this shortcoming, The Divorce Party provides a highly readable reflection on the various
stages of love.