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The Divide Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 27, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
This fourth novel lacks the power and intensity of Evans's debut, The Horse Whisperer (1995), and it's not nearly as carefully written. A pretty, upper-middle-class girl is discovered frozen in Montana ice and is soon identified as Abbie Cooper, wanted for murder by the FBI. After a promising beginning that introduces a colorful cast of Montana locals, Evans breaks off and flashes back to Abbie's upbringing in suburban New York, and centers the book on Abbie's now-divorced parents, Ben and Sarah. Evans follows the Coopers' high-end careers and estrangement from their domestic lives in meticulous, mind-numbing detail; their separation propels the already idealistic Abbie into the arms of Rolf, a shadowy eco-terrorist. As Abbie's Patty Hearst-like adventures in the eco-underworld slowly unfold, Ben takes up with Sante Fe-based artist Eve, and Sarah is left alone with son Josh, who emerges late in the novel as an improbable principal. Compelling minor characters like Sheriff Charlie Riggs and besieged ranchers Ray and Martha Hawkins are largely wasted. All winds down to a sadder, wiser, relatively reconciled ending that conforms to the norms of family drama, and of romance. The most vivid thing in the book is the wrangling early on over Abbie's remains. Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Evans demonstrates the same intricacy of plot and depth of characterization that defined his international best-seller The Horse Whisperer (1995). When the frozen body of a young woman is discovered in a -remote creek in the Rocky Mountains, the heartrending story of a family in crisis begins to unfold. Reaching back in time, members of the seemingly perfect Cooper family present their version of the events, emotions, and twists of fate that forever altered the benign course of their collective lives. After the unanticipated divorce of Sarah and Benjamin Cooper, their daughter, Abbie, becomes involved with a dangerous ecoterrorist group, while their son, Josh, drifts along in a marijuana-fueled haze. As they all move inexorably toward the ultimate tragedy, their individual perspectives coalesce, providing the reader with an opportunity to fully understand the toxic intersection of expectations, needs, and desires that inevitably caused their family unit to implode. Attempting to understand how and why Abbie wound up in the bottom of the creek, the Coopers are finally able to come to terms with the past and move toward the future. Sure to be a runaway success, this lyrical novel runs the gamut from devastation to despair to deliverance. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The Divide is a place. A guest ranch. A very private guest ranch in Montana. As Nicholas Evans tells you, "It was the place where it all began. Or began to end."
The Cooper family had been coming there for their summer vacation for years. Sarah and Benjamin and their children Abbie and Josh. It was the place where Abbie fell in love with the State of Montana and rather than go to college at Harvard or Wellesly, she opted instead to attend the University of Montana. It was where Abbie found her cowboy, Ty, Josh found Katie Bradstock and also the place where Ben found Eve which started the unraveling of his marriage.
The girl in the ice is Abbie and how she died in that fashion and in that place becomes the focus of the story for the rest of the book. And what a story it is.
Drawn into the environmental activisim of UM, Abbie's exploits take on an escalating series of events until tragedy strikes and she becomes wanted for murder.
Evans is a master at relationships and the many ways in which they can disintegrate. He finds fertile ground in the story of the Cooper family and he handles it beautifully. A good book to read while the fire burns on a winter night.