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Monday 8 April 2024

The Divorcées by Rowan Beaird

Cover of the novel The  Divorcées by Rowan Beaird, under the review spotlight at Is This Mutton.

Dear friends. I'm thrilled to bring you an outstanding debut novel today. The Divorcées transports us to 1950s Reno at a time when divorce was uncommon. 

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the acclaimed The Divorcées by Rowan Beaird. 

Publisher's Description

Lois Saunders thought that marrying the right man would finally cure her loneliness. But as picture-perfect as her husband is, she is suffocating in their loveless marriage. In 1951, though, unhappiness is hardly grounds for divorce - except in Reno, Nevada.

At the Golden Yarrow, the most respectable of Reno's 'divorce ranches' Lois finds herself living with half a dozen other would-be divorcées, all in Reno for the six weeks' residency that is the state's only divorce requirement. They spend their days riding horses and their nights flirting with cowboys, and it's as wild and fun as Lake Forest, Illinois, was prim and stifling. 

But it isn't until Greer Lange arrives that Lois's world truly cracks open. Gorgeous, beguiling, and completely indifferent to societal convention, Greer is unlike anyone Lois has ever met - and she sees something in Lois that no one else ever has. Under her influence, Lois begins to push against the limits that have always restrained her. But how much can she really trust her mysterious new friend? And how far will she go to forge her independence, on her own terms?


Women's fiction,  literary

My Thoughts 

In the 50s divorce created a growth economy in Reno, USA. Thousands of women converged on the town to live as residents for six weeks in order to be granted a no-fault divorce. 

The novel crackled with tension throughout, firstly with Lois being somewhat ostracised by the monied women at Golden Yarrow Ranch, and then in their uninhibited behavior at watering holes and casinos in Reno, where we always feel that something dreadful will happen. It's a fascinating juxtaposition between women used to cocktails and trust funds, and cowboys in the Nevada desert,  and full of period detail. 

The arrival of mysterious and beguiling Greer changes everything for Lois. She becomes bolder and changes before our eyes. Greer is a change agent with her views on men, and by the end of the book most of the women have undergone a transformation. For some their future still revolves around remarriage as soon as possible. The women at Golden Yarrow are mostly wealthy socialites but we also see a busy cabal of waitresses and shop assistants in town who are also doing their 6 weeks in Reno. Enjoyed it immensely. A dazzling debut from Rowan Beaird. 

About the Author 

Author Rowan Beaird, writer of The Divorcées reviewed by Is This Mutton.

Rowan Beaird is a writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and The Common, among others. She is the recipient of the Ploughshares Emerging Writer Award, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart. She has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers'  Conference and StoryStudio. She currently works at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Divorcées is her first novel. 

Early praise for The Divorcées

‘Beaird shines in her impressive debut. This author is one to watch.’ Publishers Weekly

‘Beaird’s debut has the hypnotic pacing and dramatic ambience of an old blackand-white film....A transporting psychological novel of friendship and betrayal, with the moody period feel of a Hitchcock film.’  Kirku

My thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours, the author and Manilla_Press at Bonnier Books UK  for the eARC in return for an honest review. 


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