The Love Wars. L. Alison Heller. Penguin Group (USA). May 2013. 352 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780451416230.
Molly Grant is employed as a corporate lawyer for the prestigious law firm of Bacon Payne; she’s okay with the 16 hour days because that’s the cost of earning one’s way into partner status. One day she hears a conversation in the elevator and soon thereafter applies to work in the Divorce Department. No, this isn’t a bleak, suffering, painful novel; Molly describes her work in a light manner that is both amusing at the foolish demands and counter-demands of couples ending a marriage; satire at the laws that dictate who gets what material goods; and poignant moments when one is on the brink of losing a child and Molly is bold enough to put on her fighting style for the sake of what is truly right and wrong and not just “billable.”
Upon entry into the marital real of legal affairs at Bacon Payne, Molly meets Lillian Starling, a high power, driven attorney who either totally loves her “girls” or fires them with the most absolutely withering phrases and insults, with no in-between moments. When Molly meets Fern Walker and hears her story, she is reminded of another request for help from a threatened mother years ago and how cavalierly she was turned away since protecting an abused spouse was not the area of the facility where Molly was then interning. Deciding to represent Fern Walker is risky because Fern’s husband is a very high profile customer of Bacon Payne. Fern knows there’s a conflict of interest and yet believes she can manage it by starting her own firm. There’s another bonus in that Molly would get the chance to represent needy clients and not the rich snobs who constantly range from cajoling, insulting and bossy ordering snobs.
How Molly can manage to do her normal work, pay off her college loans her parents assumed for her dream career, and juggle friends and dates is funny, cool, and interesting. For there are elements of the law that aren’t dry and boring but instead specifically designed to be neutral in order to protect a wife or husband from losing a child, an event that could quite literally destroy that person forever.
Molly also forms new relationships with colleagues that are honest, straight-forward, challenging, and more reflective of the family-like atmosphere of many law firms that succeed because of successful lawyers and a collegial team spirit, with an additional touch of spicy appeal.
The Love Wars is a fascinating look at divorce law and the lawyers and clients who pass through its gates briefly but with all the drama of a high speed roller coaster. L. Alison Heller presents the topic and gutsy, intelligent characters with panache and an obviously personal knowledge of the subject. This may be her first novel but it is definitely a successful endeavor and will leave readers eagerly anticipating more and better of this author with a definite, unique style! Well done, indeed, L. Alison Heller!