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The Divorcees

by Rowan Beaird

The Divorcees by Rowan Beaird X
The Divorcees by Rowan Beaird
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There are currently 36 reader reviews for The Divorcees
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Cynthia A. (Grand Rapids, MI)

A book to devour
I devoured this book! I loved all the characters, well almost all. The topic is so interesting, the story was great and so fast moving. And the ending. WOW! I didn't see that coming. I still need to figure out the significance of the lizard.
Gail K. (Saratoga Springs, NY)

A Splendid Debut
Rowan Beaird's The Divorcées has it all: strong, authentic, though not always likable, female characters, a great setting, a compelling plot and a satisfying conclusion. The characters are varied and believable. Reno, Nevada, with its divorce ranches and rather seedy nightlife, is intriguing. The plot moves along smoothly. And the conclusion was what I'd hoped for, albeit a bit unexpected. I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy women's fiction and to those who liked Julia Claiborne Johnson's Better Luck Next Time.
shannon leonetti

An eye-opening picture of a ranch vacation in the 1950s.
The Divorcees is a novel about divorce in 1950's America. The facts are pretty simple. If you were a young, unhappily married woman in America, you had very few options to escape your marriage. You were considered the property of your husband with on;y a few personal rights. Divorce was not one of them. The state of Nevada was different. It granted divorces with minimum requirements that required a short residency.
   The Divorcees is the debut novel by author Rowan Beaird, who takes her readers to the Golden Yarrow, a divorce ranch near Reno, Nevada. While The Golden Yarrow is fictional, it was patterned after one of Reno's more respectable divorce ranches, a temporary home-away-from-home for the young women living through their six weeks of in-state residency and completing endless paperwork. These were usually young women of means who would be provided a safe, protective environment where they would spend their days riding horses and their nights flirting with cowboys at the local saloon. Many did not know what they would do next.
   The primary character is Lois Saunders. In her early 20s, Lois had thought that marrying “the right man” could cure a deep loneliness. As picture-perfect as her husband was, she was suffocating and wanted out. Out was a divorce which her husband refused her.  Her father agreed to finance her stay at the respectable Golden Yarrow divorce ranch.
   At the Golden Yarrow, Lois found herself living with five other women each on her own path to freedom. They took advantage of the warm sun, riding horses during the day and visiting a local tavern at night. To Lois, it was as wild and fun as Lake Forest, Illinois, was prim and stifling. It did not take Lois very long to realize that her entire life had been lonely, both as a child and as a married adult. She began to push against the limits that have always restrained her.
   Late one night a mysterious guest arrives. Her name was Greer Lang, bruised and beautiful, she was the last to arrive. She was unlike any woman Lois had ever met. With Greer, Lois thinks she has found the excitement that has been missing from her life. Greer dares her to do things Lois would never do on her own and they develop a friendship unlike any Lois has had before.
    From here, author Beaird weaves an engaging tale of longing, learning, and personal growth. She goes deep into the pain of divorce, female friendship and the difficulty of starting over as a single woman. These women are not characters in a novel. Any one of them could have been someone we know, real and complex. They all harbor truth they aren’t willing to share and they will do whatever it takes to keep it hidden. These are women the reader doesn't have to like but she will care what happens to each of them. Beaird's settings are vibrant but she does not let Reno or the ranch become characters in the story.
    I really enjoyed the novel because of the historical divorce information and the unique idea of the divorce ranch. Unfortunately, somewhere around 100 pages into the book, Lois's widely varied escapades became a bit confusing. Her plans for criminal activity weren't terribly shocking but seemed to come out of nowhere. Her story brought a disbelief to the narrative and that was disappointing.
    I am a child of the early 50s. My mother had no choice but to work. As a result I had a strong, working woman, with a family of four to feed, as my role model. I did not expect the divorcees to be so resolute, but in their own circumstances, they strong and brave. They just wanted a path to get on with their lives in an era that still looked down on them. I want to thank Book Browse, if they had not offered me this book to review, I doubt that I would have read it.
Jan, librarian

'50s culture
I enjoyed this story. I had not known much about these divorce 'ranches', thus it was nice reading something with new subject matter. I like the author's style as well. There are strong women not afraid to step out of 50s societal norms. I would definitely recommend.
Laurie W. (Sunnyvale, CA)

An Influential Woman
The main plot of this book is about the relationship between two women. One of them (Greer) has a strong and compelling personality and the other (Lois) is eager to follow Greer's lead, whether for good or for ill. Reading it made me consider my own relationships and wonder how often I let go of part of myself when I'm influenced by someone I admire (although not to the extreme this is taken in the book). A women's book group could definitely find some meat for discussion here.
Colleen C. (Bourne, MA)

The Divorcees
I enjoyed The Divorcees for a few reasons. First, I had no idea that women in the US at one point in time, (not that long ago), had to establish "residency" in Reno, NV to be granted a divorce. Second, that special ranches existed to house the women while they waited their six weeks residency for their divorce to be final. Lastly, the book made me happy how far women have come in managing and controlling their lives.
I enjoyed the friendships between the women, despite their varying backgrounds. In numbers, they gained insight into what future single life may look like or to some, what a new marriage may show. At times, the women were lost and whiled away their nights in casinos gambling and drinking. But they did gain support from the other divorcees and the Golden Yarrow matriarch.
The main character, Lois is taken in by the wildness of the ranch and the new mysterious divorcee Greer Lang. Lois starts to trust Greer, but not sure if she should, but can't stop herself. Greer leads Lois on an escapade one night at the casino and Lois starts to have some shocking new thoughts about Greer. I liked how the author layers the plot of the story with very vivid characters. Fans of Strangers on the Train by Patricia Highsmith will enjoy The Divorcees.
Tracey S. (Largo, FL)

Great read
This was a great read! I didn't know there was such a thing as a divorce ranch. It was an interesting concept. This book kept my interest as I read about the different women and each one's reason for wanting a divorce. I did have a little trouble keeping all the characters straight. And when Greer showed up, she stirred things up and had a great influence on Lois. I think this would be a great book club book and I recommend it!
Susan P. (Boston, MA)

The Divorcees
A fictional but accurate look at divorce in the U.S. in the 1950s -- how it is unfair to those without resources of her own, how it's viewed as shameful, and how it can only be obtained for what is considered a serious reason. Readers younger than baby boomers will find it fascinating, as they may not have heard of the Reno divorce ranches (to get a relatively speedy divorce, one had to be a resident for 6 weeks) for women. Much of this wasn't new to me but the main character was compelling, getting inside her not-dumb head and how her own lack of female role models informed her choices in her (up-to-now) short life. It becomes fascinating as the story speeds toward what might be a disaster.

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