The Divorcees

The dark, deliciously slow-burn 1950s-set debut everyone is talking about

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Pub Date 28 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 31 Mar 2024
Bonnier Books UK | Manilla Press

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A dark and dazzling debut from a beguiling new voice - for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Lessons in Chemistry.

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 divorcees, 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?

Set in the glamourous, dizzying world of 1950s Reno, THE DIVORCEES is a dark, riveting page-turner and a dazzling exploration of female friendship, desire, and freedom.

A dark and dazzling debut from a beguiling new voice - for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Lessons in Chemistry.

Lois Saunders thought that marrying the right man would finally cure her loneliness. But as...

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ISBN 9781786583659
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Featured Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this book and seeing the characters develop throughout and live / develop their new lives in their own ways.

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Absolutely enjoyed this gem of a book. Unlike anything I’ve read before! Will keep an eye out for this author.

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Assume the role of a young, married lady in the 1950s. unhappy union. What choices do you have? Similar to how you were treated by your father before you were married, you are essentially seen as your husband's property, with no ideas or rights that are acceptable. Property. Introducing Lois, a four-year married woman who neither wants nor fits the traditional wife role.

Lois comes to the realisation that she has been alone throughout her whole life—both as a child and as an adult married to someone else. Living in what she perceives to be a loveless marriage, she believes that the only way she can obtain the necessary grounds for divorce is by spending six weeks at a divorce ranch in Reno, Nevada. Her father, who is emotionally distant from her, consents to pay for her stay at the Golden Yarrow, the most prestigious divorce ranch.

Lois believes she has finally found the excitement she has been lacking in her life when the stunning, brave, and bruised Greer appears in her life. Greer challenges her to accomplish things that Lois would never do on her own, and the two forge a bond that Lois has never experienced. Greer encourages people to be brave and open about their lives, yet she doesn't talk much about her own history. A captivating story of longing, education, friendship, and personal development is woven by Rowan Beaird.

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I loved delving into this well-crafted read about Lois, who spends six weeks at a Reno divorce ranch to “qualify” for a divorce. A thought-provoking story that offers an intriguing perspective on female friendships in the 1950s.

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A beautifully written and thought-provoking story with compelling characters. I would have loved to see the perspectives of the other women staying on the ranch.

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In the 1950s, unhappiness was hardly a valid reason for divorce - except in Nevada.

Hence the divorce ranches in Reno. Because the state's only requirement is six weeks' residency beforehand.

And so Lois finds herself holed up at the Golden Yarrow, the divorce ranch for the well-to-do. It's light years away from Lake Forest, Illinois.

And then Greer Lang arrives...

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I was absolutely entranced by The Divorcees. Beautiful and stylish, with a wonderful 50s setting, I was captivated by all the characters. Add to that an underlying dark tension and you have a perfect page turner. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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This sharply observed, stylish novel is a compelling read. Based around a group of women at a ‘divorce ranch’ in Nevada it looks at family, sex, female friendship and dynamics through the lens of the narrator and the woman they all become obsessed with, Greer.

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The book has an interesting setting- women who have to 'live' in Reno for six weeks in order to get a divorce, I had no idea that this was a thing. They went off to stay on ranches with other women and went to casinos and nightclubs to pass the time.
Amongst this eclectic group of women one has a magnetic pull over all of the others and sweeps them along with her schemes. It becomes apparent that she is not all she appears to be and our rather naive heroine is getting in too deep.

I enjoyed both parts of this book; the setting and the plot. However the balance between the two was too heavily loaded on the scene setting, it was a rather slow start. I wanted more plotting, scheming and wickedness earlier on, rather than more and more descriptions of lost women and useless husbands.

It is an enjoyable read, it just could have been excellent if there was more pace.

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An amazing debut novel from Rowan Beaird. A glimpse into a time when divorcees were treated with contempt, but divorce created a growth economy in Reno. A fascinating juxtaposition between women used to cocktails and trust funds, and cowboys in the Nevada desert.
It 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.
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 also doing their 6 weeks in Reno. Enjoyed it immensely.

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I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review. I loved the characters and I romped through the book, enjoying it immensely. A good summer holiday read. My only negative was I felt the ending was rather abrupt and left me wanting answers; perhaps that's a good thing?

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I loved this. I loved this. I loved this.

Reading it by the pool on holiday was a great decision. It made my trip to Tuscany and I have told everyone I know to buy it immediately. Please, I urge you to do the same.

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I had no idea that in the mid-20th century Nevada was the divorce capital of the USA. Anyone able to prove at least 6 weeks residence there could be granted a divorce. This led to an industry of ranches providing accommodation and chaperoning for women seeking a divorce from their husbands. What a great idea for a book, and Rowan Beaird has made the most of the concept and provided us with an insight into the lives of those living at one of the more upmarket ranches in Reno, The Golden Yarrow.
I really enjoyed it - but I am struggling to pinhole what sort of book it is. Well-written, complex and dark, in places it was almost a thriller. Whatever genre you put this interesting debut in, it is engaging, classy, thought provoking and a real page turner. It would make a really good book club choice, as there is so much to talk about.
I am excited to see what Beaird comes up with next - she is definitely one to watch. Her research and attention to detail is excellent. I have no hesitation in giving The Divorcees five stars.
(I also wouldn't be surprised to see this book become a film, which the main character Lois would absolutely love!)

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📚The Divorcees by Rowan Beaird.

This is another American debut novel from writer Rowan Beaird focusing ont he relationships of two women who have come to Nevada int he 1950s seeking to take advantage of their more relaxed divorce laws. When shy and self-effacing Lois meets New York society girl Greer she falls under the spell of this much stronger woman and the life that she offers but something much darker is lurking beneath the glitter.

I picked this up thinking that it would perhaps be a much more commercial read than I usually go for. However I found the writing pacy and intricate and the relationship between the two women with its mixture of sexual admiration and rebellion captivated me from the start. This is the female version of The Talented Mr Ripley and actually was everything that I had hoped Lessons in Chemistry was going to be. The novel captures a spirit more tan anything and the adventure of Lois becoming a woman outside of marriage and her family intermingled with the darker story of Greer and all that they mean to each other make this the perfect pacy read.

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I was intrigued by the concept behind this story reading the blurb and the story did not disappoint. A story that will stay with me for a long while after 🩵
Thank you to Bonnier Books UK, Manilla Press + NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Divorceés before it publishes on 28th March 2024 #TheDivorcees #NetGalley

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I read this book as part of my online book club. I really enjoyed the book up until the end, which I found a bit of a let down. It came to a sudden end. However I did like the rest of it and zipped through it quite quickly as it kept me reading.

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Loved the atmospheric setting Rowan Beaird carefully creates. The bond between Lois and Greer is deftly captured, it all heads towards a satisfying ending. Loved it!

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When I read any book I try to take into account the following:
Was the story engaging? Do I like the writing style? Are the characters plausible/relatable? Am I interested enough in the plot to continue reading? Is the subject matter something I am familiar with or am I learning something new? and The Divorcees is a YES to all these questions.
Now, if YOU only read fast paced, suspense thrillers then this book is NOT for you and I wouldn’t even expect you to read the rest of my review. But, if you do enjoy literary or contemporary fiction then you may enjoy The Divorcees.
Set in the early 50’s divorce laws in many states were quite restrictive and often faced lengthy waiting periods and stringent grounds for divorce, but in Nevada the laws were different. As long as the couple established residency and resided in the state for six weeks, they could obtain a swift divorce. A “Divorce Ranch” was a place where individuals stayed to establish their residency for the required six weeks, whilst enjoying the daytime outdoor activities and glittery nightlife of Reno and socialising with other guests in the same situation.
Lois is the main character. In her mid-twenties, she has been married to wealthy Lawrence for four years, but she has never been happy. Finally, she has found the strength to walk away and is sent to the Golden Yarrow, a divorce ranch for the rich and affluent by her disappointed father.
I thought Lois was a fascinating character. Her insecurities and flaws brought her to life in my mind. Reading about her childhood, the loss of her mother, the emotional abandonment of her father and the desperate marriage to Lawrence made me feel very sorry for her and her bravery in finally walking away from her marriage despite the stigma gave me hope that she might find happiness eventually.
Personally, I enjoyed the book. I thought it was atmospheric, and the author described Reno with such depth and vivid clarity that I could feel the heat and oppression of being in the desert. I could imagine myself sitting by the pool with Greer and Lois listening to them chatting.
Sometimes it’s nice to take a step away from the crime and embrace other genres. Overall I would give this 4 stars as it ticked all my requirements in a book.

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It’s 1950s America and Lois, in her 20s, is making her way west. Stuck in a loveless marriage, Nevada’s laws will allow her a quick, clean divorce. All she has to do is be resident there for six weeks. So she spends her weeks at the Golden Yarrow, one of the more upmarket ‘divorce ranches’ on the outskirts of Reno, lounging by the pool or in her room. She has always had awkward relationships with the women around her, and things are no different here, as she finds herself shunned, an outsider; until beautiful, magnetic, elusive and carefree Greer arrives, taking Lois under her wing, drawing her into the fold and out on the group nights to the local bars and casinos. But Greer’s defying of convention stretches far and, as Lois’ need for Greer’s approval grows, Lois finds her limits being put to the test.

Despite the slow building, character driven nature of the story, it’s a quick read, broken down into short chapters. Beaird’s descriptive and evocative writing beautifully captures the small details of dress, the interiors, the Nevada landscape, climate and desert nightlife, but it’s Lois’ evolution, and the developing dynamic between the women, that is the heart of the story. All here for a shared reason, even if travelling on different paths, we see the small ways they uphold each other, and the small ways they kick each other down when at their most vulnerable. All on the cusp of leaving an old life behind and striding into a new one - some simply a new version of the previous one - initially the women still judge each other, exploring what being a divorcée means to them. Lois astounds the others by sharing that she envisions her new life without a man by her side.The story is a portrait in Lois’ personal journey; in how Greer, completely comfortable in her lack of convention, has a transformative effect, for better for worse, on the more timid Lois who, in her own quiet way, has also made her stand against settling and accepting an unfulfilling life purely for security or convenience. Exploring friendship and betrayal, loneliness and agency, the identities we create in our present and the future versions of ourselves we strive towards, this was an immersive read and highly enjoyable debut.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my eARC.

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In 1950s Nevada, a wealthy woman can obtain a divorce by becoming resident after a six week stay at a 'divorce ranch'. Lois comes to stay at the Golden Yarrow and struggles to fit in with the other women until Greer arrives. But her impact on Lois and the other guests has wide-ranging repercussions.

What a fantastic book! I'd never heard of divorce ranches and found the whole story absolutely fascinating. Added to that the characters of Lois and Greer were really complex and intriguing. I raced through the book and really loved the ending. The time period (especially clothes), Nevada desert setting and the fabulous story all lend themselves to a Netflix series I think! Very VERY highly recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.

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Loved this!!!
Lois Saunders has always been an outsider, having married to fit in she has now found the courage to divorce her husband and heads to the Golden Yarrow divorce ranch in Reno - paid for by her father with strict conditions applied. After the late night, mysterious arrival of a new guest Greer, Lois starts to find her true self.
A story of female friendship and finding who you are.
If you are looking for a book to read on the beach I would highly recommend this.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read The Divorcees.

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In 1951, twenty-something Lois Saunders (née Gorski) arrives at the Golden Yarrow ranch in Reno for a mandatory six week reprieve to obtain residency in Nevada and file for divorce. When the mysterious and beguiling Greer arrives at the ranch, she becomes the object of Lois’s attention and causes Lois to question what life could be like after the ranch.

The Divorcées is a novel largely exploring female agency in a patriarchal society. The concept and history of “divorce ranches” was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of female community (and the waxing and waning of intimacy and distance between the women), and the shared experience of risking public reputation for personal happiness and empowerment.

I found Lois as a protagonist engaging, particularly in her yearning for validation and connection. Observing her personal growth over the length of the novel from at first struggling to legitimise her reasons for divorcing her husband, to reclaiming her sense of self and gaining independence was fantastic to read.
Furthermore, Beaird’s writing style was a treat to digest — beautifully crafted and visceral. I’ll definitely be on the look out for further releases in the future.

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