From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil's Ghost comes a remarkable, intimate novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time. In the 1970s in Northern California a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is shattered by an incident of violence that sets fire to the rest of their lives. Divisadero takes us from San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada's casinos and eventually to the landscape of southern France. As the narrative moves back and forth through time and place, we find each of the characters trying to find some foothold in a present shadowed by the past.From the Trade Paperback edition.
It took the whole book before I felt I had anything like a handle on this book. The style does not sit comfortably. I couldn't grip or connect to the characters - I never did since the last quarter of the book is about different characters. As soon as I felt the book was getting somewhere, it changed. Ondaatje writes well, but seems to me, like so many men who 'write well', to be unable to connect with characters.read more
Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero is beautifully constructed and written. It is a bit complex, and difficult to explain without divulging too many details, but I’ll try.It is the story of three children, raised by the same man, whose name we never learn. The eldest child, a boy named Cooper, was taken in by the man and his wife after a tragedy destroyed his family. Anna was born to the man’s wife, Lydia Mendez, who died shortly thereafter. When the man took Anna home from the hospital, he also took Claire, another baby who had been born at the same time and been orphaned. This family lives and works on a farm in Northern California, near Petaluma.The story begins when the children are teenagers, in the 1970’s. Initially, Anna is the narrator. After an incident of extreme violence tears apart the family, Cooper and Anna leave the farm. When the story picks up, many years have passed. The children are grown, and each is leading a separate life. The have, in fact, not seen or spoken to one another since the incident.The remainder of the story is told from each of their viewpoints. They take different paths to adulthood. Anna is living in rural France, researching the life of Lucien Seguro, a writer. In his life, we see echoes of the lives of our original characters.As I said, this book is a bit difficult to explain but it is worth reading. Divisadero is a winner of the Governor General’s Award for fiction. This prize is given by the Canada Council for the Arts. Michael Ondaatje’s best known work is likely The English Patient, which was a Man Booker Prize winner. Ondaatje’s prose is lyrical and quite, and lovely to read. If you’re looking for a novel to challenge you a bit, this might be it.read more
Ondaatje is truly an amazing writer; each book is a testament to his skill with language and imagery and this one is his finest. I hated for it to end; it was so beautiful to read and be memerized by his sentences. Reading this book makes you reflect on the fragility and mutability of identity and bonds. I plan to read it again.read more
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