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The Divide - Nicholas Evans

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Author: Nicholas Evans / Genre: Fiction

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    4 Reviews
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      15.09.2012 18:58
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      I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would!

      Nicholas Evans is best known for his successful novel "The Horse Whisperer" which was later made into a film starring Robert Redford. "The Divide" is his fourth novel, first published in 2005.

      The Divide begins with the discovery of the body of a young woman buried in the ice on a remote mountain creek. The body is identified as Abbie Cooper, a young girl on the run from the FBI, wanted for murder and acts of eco-terrorism.
      After the discovery by a man and his son out skiing in the area, the devastation for Abbie's family deepens into mystery. How did she die? And what was the trail of events that led this much loved girl so tragically astray?

      Abbie's story and that of her family, her brother Josh and estranged parents Sarah and Ben is revealed through flashbacks after the discovery of Abbie's body. Through these flashbacks we discover the events leading to her tragic death and how a loving and intelligent girl was led astray from her family.
      It is a journey of discovery and redemption and ultimately the story of a family fractured by betrayal.

      After spotting this book on my daughter's bookshelf and wanting something to read, I picked it up, not really sure if it would be my cup of tea to be honest, but it piqued my interest enough to give it a go.
      I thought at first that this was going to be the story of a father and son lost out on remote mountains after a skiing accident, despite the cover telling me different. And to be honest, the opening pages were quite exciting and I wouldn't have minded if it had been a tale of survival, as I found after the initial excitement, the story then went on a huge flashback featuring Abbie's life, but concentrating more on the relationship between her parents, Sarah and Ben. After this initial drama and excitement, I did feel a little disappointed as the pace slowed right down and the story shifted, but still found the writing engaging enough to keep me reading.

      The Cooper family at first appear to be a close and loving New York family who enjoyed their yearly holidays in Montana at a place called 'The Divide.'
      It soon appears, that despite the loving exterior, things are not as loving under the surface and it soon became apparent that the title 'The Divide' has different meanings, as it's not just the name of the place where the Cooper family spend their holidays, it also describes a family divided and torn apart, but by what exactly isn't all that clear.
      Ben and Sarah are characters I found I had alternating sympathy with, but then found that I didn't actually care for either of them very much. As their marriage crumbles, I found at first that I felt sorry for Ben who appeared to be a loving family guy and I thought he was married to a woman who had became indifferent to him and his needs and was quite cold towards him. However, this changed as I then began to see a controlling side to Ben, a selfish streak and a few hints that he wasn't the loyal husband he appeared to be. Indeed there were few clues to say his later actions were more than just a mid-life crisis.

      The breakdown in the relationship between Ben and Sarah is the central part of the story. It causes a lot of bitterness all round, which Abbie in particular suffers with as she cannot forgive her father and becomes increasingly distant from her parents. At first Abbie seems a happy, loving girl who then later appears to become disillusioned with love and turns her back on it, venting her anger and emotions on protests instead. The power of this story is portraying the effects of a marriage breakdown can have on all concerned and how a united family can become a family divided in loyalty, anger and grief.
      Having witnessed the spoiling of the Montana countryside due to industry, she falls in with eco-terrrorists and under the influence of an older man, Rolf. The events leading to her death are then slowly revealed. And I mean slowly. I did wish at times that the pace would speed up but it remained strangely engaging. The last fifty pages or so were as exciting as the first, but I did think that some of the middle section could have been shortened.
      The fact that I didn't really like the characters of Ben and Sarah probably didn't help. I found Ben to be self-indulgent, controlling and too sure of himself and Sarah was quite cold, although being married to Ben probably contributed to much of this and her reaction to their break-up showed that she did actually love Ben, whilst it seemed that Ben didn't know what he wanted other than to be adored. Any sympathy I did have certainly went to Sarah.

      Nicholas Evans' talent is that he is a good story teller and manages to engage the reader throughout. The Divide is 438 pages long and whilst a chunk of that could be taken out in my opinion, I found the fact it is drawn out didn't irritate me as much as I expected it to.
      The closure to this tragic tale also surprised me, but ultimately I was left thinking would Abbie have still been alive if her parents had not split up and it is this question which Evans explores well here and describes convincingly the emotions, the what ifs and the if onlys, as well as the guilt which makes up the final part of this tragic tale of an intelligent, lively young girl who is led into a path of destruction. The power of this story comes from portraying the effects a marriage breakdown can have on all concerned and how a united family can become a family divided in loyalty, anger and grief, with tragic consequences.

      I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it.

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        05.10.2010 21:18
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        Doesn't disappoint - a must read!

        The Divide is the fourth novel from Nicholas Evans and tells the story of the Cooper family, torn apart by divorce and the repercussions of that in each of their lives. The major focus is Abbie - the young daughter who's body is discovered in the first chapter of the book, and how her life spiraled out of control in the years following her father walking out.

        Evans tells the story from the perspective of each member of the family and shows how life and emotion isn't always black and white. The actions of each character are led by complex feelings and motives and Evans portrays this spectacularly, in the same way that took 'The Horse Whisperer' to the top of the bestsellers lists. The story takes place across both the spectacular scenery of the American Wild West, and contrasting suburban New York and Evans takes you to each location effortlessly.

        This really is a fantastic book. The plot itself is a real page-turner but besides that, Evans manages to write in a way that is emotional, thought-provoking and allows you to really get lost in the world of the Cooper family. I've read all of his previous books and must say 'The Loop' is still my favourite, but Evans lives up to expectations every time.

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        25.01.2009 17:16
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        Great Book That Most Should Enjoy

        Nicholas Evans has written many books of this style and nature with the most popular and well-known being the Horse Whisperer, but in my opinion all his others pale into insignificance next to this, his fourth novel.

        It is a story about how a family deals with the death of their daughter and how it actually came about, much more of a novel deep in mystery and discovery than soem of the others, which have been focused on the love between two people.

        The story begins by telling about how the body was found and then goes back into the past to look at how the situation cam e about. This is the point at which we are really introduced to the characters, with a family visiting a ranch for their vacation. The samily seem serene enough and the parents get on well, but this illusion is soon broken and the long road that is divorce begins, which alienates their children and drive the family further apart and into emotional turmoil.

        The book focuses on the father in the family and how he deals with the break-up and the realisation that his daughter's body has been found. And in all of this, depite the father being the cause of the break-up, i find myself sympathising with him and his situation, and you want him to find happiness and return to normailty.

        This for me is a great book that deals in human emotion so well and draws you into the story from the first chapter. This is an enchanting and beautiful novel about how we as human beings deal with tough emotional situations and perhaps shows us how we could deal with them better.

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        09.07.2007 17:01
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        A book to take on the plane with you.

        Nicholas Evans is best known for his novel “The Horse Whisperer” which was made into a film starring Robert Redford and has sold 10 million copies worldwide. “The Divide” is his fourth novel.

        The story begins with the discovery of the body of a young woman embedded in the ice of a remote mountain creek. The body is that of Abbie Cooper, who was wanted by the FBI for murder and acts of Eco-terrorism. Her story and the story of her family is told through flashbacks. We discover the events leading to her death, and how this seemingly respectable and intelligent girl was led astray from her family.

        The Cooper family was a family much like any other living in suburban New York. They were close, and enjoyed seemingly idyllic holidays in Montana, where much of the novel is set. When Ben and Sarah Cooper become divorced, Abbie becomes increasingly distant from her parents and her brother. She falls under the spell of an older man, Rolf, who is able to manipulate her thoughts and emotions. When the pair go on the run from the authorities, Abbie has become unrecognisable to her family. She is no longer a pretty upper-middle-class girl, but a shadowy criminal and environmental radical, willing to do anything for her boyfriend.

        The break down in the relationship between Ben and Sarah is central to the story. Evans examines how two good people can begin to make each other so unhappy over time as they change and grow in different directions. I felt a great deal of sympathy for the characters, and enjoyed reading about their break-up from both viewpoints as it enables the reader to see how they both hurt for different reasons. In one chapter, I felt sorry for Sarah, and perceived Ben to be a womaniser, then in the next chapter I couldn’t help but empathise with Ben because of the way Sarah treats him.

        The title of the book has several meanings. In addition to being the name of the range where the Coopers spent their holidays, it refers to the divide between those who want the beauty of the earth preserved, and the large corporations who want to destroy it. The title also refers to the divide between man and woman, or husband and wife when they grow apart for whatever reasons. The divisions within a family are also clearly evident in this story as Abbie becomes estranged from her parents and brother, Josh.

        “The Divide” is a good story with rich characters. Evans has written about the break up of a family unit in a sensitive and thought provoking manner. The author supposedly based the book on his own divorce, and I think his insightfulness comes across. I feel that the story has left me with a rather gloomy view of marriage, but I’m not sure that this view is a realistic one! I think that there are divides within most families, however perfect they may appear to casual observers, so most readers will be able to relate to one of the characters in the novel at some level. I felt that the story came to a satisfactory conclusion as the characters were able to gain closure and the mystery of how Abbie died was finally revealed.

        I’m not sure what genre this story would fall into. It is part crime, part family drama and part romance. I think that the novel would be a good choice for a book group as there are lots of points to discuss, however I won’t describe those here as it would spoil the story. I did enjoy the book, but not enough to want to read any of Evans’s other novels.

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