Book Review: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
May 8, 2011 6 Comments
I read this book for the Book Bloggers Abroad Challenge. This writer was suggested by Mystica from Sri Lanka in her guest post on my blog.
I know Ondaatje’s most famous book is The English Patient but I thought I’ll go for a different book (I think I saw the movie of The English Patient). Unfortunately, the book has nothing to do with Sri Lanka. Even so, it was a good read.
Divisadero: What it is about
Divisadero is about a family made up of a father, his daughter Anna, an adopted daughter Claire, and a farm hand, Coop. They live in Northern California.
Years later we find Coop and Anna back in completely different lives. Coop is a poker player while Anna is living in France researching the life of a deceased writer. Only Claire is still living near her father.
In France, Anna meets a gypsy who lives in a nearby field. He tells her the story of how he ended up where he is now. It turns out he knew the writer the Anna is researching. The last part of the book is about the life of the writer.
In the US, Coop and Claire meet by coincidence but the result of their meeting is very different from what they expected at first.
Divisadero: What I thought
The book was very well written but the first part went very slow for me. I wasn’t sure I was gong to like it, especially when Coop was in focus for a long chapter. I wasn’t interested in his life as a poker player. I was happy to see the book move on to Anna in France.
I really enjoyed the story of Anna in France. It felt quite idyllic: she lives in an historic farm house, meets a gypsy and researches the papers of a former writer.
According to other reviewers, there is a parallel between the life of the writer that Anna is researching and Anna’s family at home. I am too shallow a reader to notice this but it didn’t matter. The story was a good one anyway.