Book Review: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
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.

Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 ChallengeOne day, the relations between the family members are completely disturbed after a drama takes place at Coop’s cabin. Coop runs off while Anna is taken away by her father (and then runs off too).

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.

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

6 Responses to Book Review: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

  1. winstonsdad says:

    I ve this on my tbr pile Judith ,I ve read a number of his other books ,he is a very read able writer I feel at times ,I would read the english patient it is a special book and deserved winning the booker ,great review all the best stu

  2. This is the only book I have read by this author, and the writing style was not really my thing. The book was just ok for me, so I am not sure whether I will read The English Patient or not.

  3. Trisha says:

    I haven’t read any books by him I must admit. In part, I think, because I really did not like the movie version of The English Patient (just not my type of story).

  4. Nadine Nys says:

    I don’t think I will read this book, although you liked it. I’ve read The English Patient and didn’t like it at all. I’m not sure why, though; perpaps it was the style of writing!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Nadine, I could imagine Ondaatje’s writing style is not for everyone. I liked this book though, and I certainly will try The English Patient.

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