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Divisadero
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on 2 August 2017
I am a fan of Michael Ondaatje but this book somehow lost me along the way. There were too many references about events and obscure writers and people that detracted from the storyline and distracted me and bothered me. I like good literature but this seemed to be a sort of showing off of the wealth of knowledge and the amount of research the writer has and did. Sorry. Wish I could say better but...... I had to force myself to finish reading it.
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on 8 May 2016
Although can't help comparison with the unforgettable English Patient, this book stands as tall in literature history, in my opinion magical from the opening lines. Easy to follow (in fact reading after the English Patient, and recognising the style certainly helps in understanding) the magical book only more fully. Not always pleasant or easy reading, but that is the writers obvious style. At times I felt myself wondering why a producer has not made a film of it. After the world-wide success of the previously mentioned, (am afraid all of Ondaatje's works will be compared to that one) a film, with the right actors would be wonderful indeed.
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on 14 June 2017
Beautifully expressed, atmospheric and often suspenseful; but also highly desultory in time and place and, in places, rather author-indulgent.
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on 12 April 2016
Started off well then deteriorated, story went all over the place. Poor character building and I stopped caring what would happen next. Don't waste your time or money on this one.
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on 12 February 2013
I enjoyed this book whilst reading it as I love his style of writing. However, I either missed something, or am too stupid as I was never able to connect the 2 books within it. I re-read the last few pages a few times to see how the 2 families were connected. Perhaps someone would like to enlighten me!
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on 22 January 2016
Book was a described and delivery was very prompt. Thank you!
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on 2 December 2013
I couldn'tj stop reading it the story is a fascinating web of interconnecting lives and settings.it is like a well choreographed dance
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on 28 October 2007
A wonderful book from a masterly writer, however the structure of the book will frustrate those who prefer their novels a little more conventional.
The way Ondaatje leaves his characters `in the air` is odd....and the switch to the life of the writer from the main character Anna... now residing in his former house....while magnificently written is frustrating at times.
I found the oddest part of the work, was in the life of Coop who becomes a professional card player. This could have been written by a completely different author. Derivative, cliched....it could have been taken from a cheap paperback.
I can only conclude that this was indeed the author`s intention....his words when the other characters are involved are simply breathtaking.
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on 23 September 2007
I loved reading (and re reading) the English Patient and Anil's Ghost. I'd probably rate the English Patient as one of my favourite books. I was therefore a bit disheatened to hear some negative reviews of Divisadero on BBC Newsnight Review. Some of the comments described the writing style as "juvenile" and the storyline as a mess. The consensus of opinion was negative. On the contrary this novel was tremendous! I had a friend in school who once he listened to an album he really liked would not listen to it again for some time as he didn't want to diminish that first experience. I've just finished reading this book and I'm sorely tempted to re-read it now if it wasn't for my friend's peculiar advice. Ondaatje fans will not be disappointed in the slightest. This book was seven years in the making and this is reflected in the complex interweaving of numerous characters and their relationships....all held together by the 'blue table'. I think there is a lot to discover within this book, within every character, sublot and sentence. This is what attracted me to Ondaatje. I'd happily spend hours over one of his chapters. Divisadero has not disappointed in the slightest. It's evocative, deep, thought provoking and intimate. To hell with it I might just read it again now!
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on 30 June 2015
273pp. Set, I think, some time after WWII, this novel ranges far and wide across America and Europe. It begins with the story of two children born in the same hospital, both of whose mothers die in childbirth. The father of one is unknown, but the other father takes on both children, perhaps persuaded that two children, both girls, will be company for each other.. He’s a farmer, a taciturn man. Anna is the father’s daughter, Claire the child adopted. “Coop is the hired hand, the endangered heir of a murderer”. There is a wonderful section of writing about Coop mending a leak in the Water Tower, a sequence that explains much about Coop. Another kid taken in, but who always remains outside the family, while of it. A spooked horse is the cause of Claire’s limp. The girls grow into teenagers and Anna and Coop grow very close.

Then something terrible happens that disintegrates the bonds of family and sends them scattered from their father. It is Claire, however, who rescues Coop, drags him inside on the coldest night. When he wakes, Coop understands that he must leave the farm. “Coop would never come back.”

Coop’s story begins again here as he becomes a gambler with extraordinary gifts. He falls in with a group of gamblers. Anna leaves for France, meets Rafael. “What night gave Rafael was a formlessness in which everything had a purpose. As if darkness had a hidden musical language.” The stories of what happen to Claire, Coop and Anna are what the bulk of the novel describes. The writing is absolutely beautiful, often lyrical, always captivating. I can’t stress enough the extraordinary insights of this beautiful book.

Nevertheless, there is a sense that Ondaatje has somehow overreached his gifts towards the end of this book, when a new writer Lucien takes over the narrative. Well, that’s how it feels to me, as this new narrative introduces a whole other dimension. I enjoyed this book enormously, but once Coop fades from the scene and is replaced by a variety of French people, I kind of lost my way. Coop, for me, was the central protagonist, but somehow he got demoted.
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