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Torn in two.
The Divide - Nicholas Evans
Member Name: Lynsey100
The Divide - Nicholas Evans
Advantages: An enjoyable and easy read.
Disadvantages: May be too scmaltzy in parts for some readers!
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.
Summary: A book to take on the plane with you.