Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Divisadero, Rockin' Girl Blogger

Title: Divisadero
Author: Michael Ondaatje
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 288
Edition: Hardcover

First of all, I must bashfully admit that I've never read any of Ondaatje's works before!! And Oh, What a fabulous read it turned out to be...

Set in the 1980s, the story begins with Anna, Claire and Coop living in a small farm in Petaluma, California. Anna's mother dies in childbirth and her father brings home not just Anna but Claire too, another orphan born in the same hospital, to raise them as his own. Coop, a boy in the neighborhood farm, joins Anna's family after his parents were killed in a local violence. Coop works in the farm all day, tending the cows and horses, while the girls swoon over him. Then, the inevitable happens. Anna and Coop fall in love. While Anna and Coop enjoy one of their most intimate moments, her father storms in and launches an assault on Coop. Despite Anna's plea to save Coop, her father, raging with anger, tries to murder Coop. Coop manages to flee and settles down in Nevada to become a gambler. Anna's resentment towards her father forces her to abandon the farm and go to France. She seeks refuge in an old mansion, whose former owner is a famous French Writer named 'Lucien Segura'. Claire makes living as a researcher for a public defender office. The family divides and tears apart. One event alters everything and their paths don't intersect for many years later.

Now, the story comes to an abrupt halt. Halfway through the book, Ondaatje begins a new story, that of a French Writer named 'Lucien Segura'. He recounts Lucien's life history through Anna and how it mirrors her own life in a bizarre way, bringing back memories from the past. As a reader, it bemused me a bit in the beginning, as it all seemed totally unrelated. But, as I continued to read (and reread quite a few times), I could appreciate the sublime beauty hidden in the passages and how the similarities reveals itself in a most beautiful, but subtle way. It proved to be a difficult read at first, but Ondaatje's writing style is so divine and mesmerizing, I began to savor every page and every word. Not too often you come across a work of such calibre. The luscious details, the poetic style and the captivating story could simply leave you awestruck!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Rockin' Girl Blogger

Guess What, Lovely Lotus has named me as a 'Rockin' Girl Blogger'. Its very nice of you, Lotus!! And, Thank you!


Lotus Reads said...

Hi Chitts!

I began to savor every page and every word. Not too often you come across a work of such caliber. The luscious details, the poetic style and the captivating story could simply leave you awestruck!"

I think you described Ondaatje's writing so well! His prose has such a delicious beauty to it. I always liken it to rich and expensive chocolate, but like rich chocolate it needs to be enjoyed slowly, something I have not learned to do.

I started "Divisadero" several times but just could not get into it!

As you know this book has been nominated for Canada's richest prize, the Giller and last night I heard he's also been nominated for the Governor General Award. Good things are in store for Mr. Ondaatje and he deserves it.

Thank you for a wonderful review, Chitts, you rock! :)

Literary Feline said...

I really must get around to reading Ondaatje one of these days. I am among those who haven't yet read one of his books. Wonderful review!

Happy Reader said...

@Lotus ~ Like you said, I had to read and reread many times to get the beauty out of it. It was a tough read, but the experience at the end is very rewarding!
I heard about the Giller prize nomination. Between M.G.Vassanji and Ondaatje, I will be happy if either one of them wins!!
@Literary Feline ~ Thank you! I hope you do. When you get a chance, Check out "The English Patient" as well.

Radha said...

congratulations, rocking girl!! :))

Happy Reader said...

@radha ~ Thanks :)

tanabata said...

I've read several good reviews of this. The 2 books of his I've read were a bit of a struggle to read but I'm definitely going to have to add it to the list. I adore the movie of The English Patient!

Happy Reader said...

@tanabata ~ 'English Patient' is on my wishlist, too! But, I'm contemplating if I should read the book first before watching the movie...

tanabata said...

I read the book after seeing the movie. It's been several years but if I remember correctly the movie was much more linear so it helped having the story in mind already when reading it. I'd like to read it again someday..

Happy Reader said...

@tanabata ~ Guess I will watch the movie first, then...