In her book on the way the legal profession use stories and storytelling in their profession, Korobkin address the use of sentimentality as both a literary genre and a rhetorical strategy in both fiction and the court room throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in America. Through her study of criminal conversations, Korobkin argues that literary discourse becomes an important implement of the court room and immediately influences the outcome of court cases. Through her study, Korobkin illustrates how the legal profession are themselves influenced by the fictional representation of court cases and the law in their own work. In this way, the court culture uses sentimental fiction within their own identity. Through the practice of "criminal conversation" –in which a husband may sue his wife’s lover for damages to his property rights from adultery, the court encourage the use of sentimental and melodramatic statements to be made in order to win cases. Thus, by drawing reference to and being influenced by sentimental romance fiction for the discourse around court cases of divorce, the legal profession attempt to redefine spouses marital obligations according to that found in romance novels. In her book, Korobkin maps out the trajectory of adultery and marriage rites found in the court from the era of the Renaissance in England through Victorian America.
By looking at the sensational criminal conversation trial of Henry Ward Beecher from 1874-1875, Korobkin discusses how the last parting speech of the trial was a copy of sentimental fiction from the time. After looking at husbands use of this plea during the period, Korobkin also demonstrates how the gender bias prevented women from doing the same against their wayward husbands. She later shows how this policy was altered because of the evidence that lawyers found in fictional examples found in works of Mark Twain, T.S. Arthur, and others at the time. Thus the use of fiction in the courtroom caused a change in the voice allowed for abused wives, offering empowerment to women during the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century. Criminal Conversations is a powerful and original example of how culture and society intersect and interrelate. It will be of interest to literature, history, and law students and theorists.