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3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  8,900 Ratings  ·  1,373 Reviews
From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil's Ghost comes a remarkable, intimate novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time. In the 1970s in Northern California a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by Vintage (first published 2007)
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Jun 05, 2016 Jaidee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars-books

5 "hypnagogic" stars.

2015 Silver Award (2nd Favorite Read)

What is this book? Oh my goodness.... Oh my goodness.... Oh my God!!

Mr. Ondaatje captured snippets of dreams and put them in a beautiful violet tinged jar and shook them gently until they coalesced into one syrupy whole.

I wanted to read this book slowly but I could not as the prose had a force of its own. It made me quiver with melancholy and at times made my heart skip in joy. Everything unfinished but infused with a primitive wisdom t
Jul 17, 2009 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-lit
Divisadero is not a story about the things that happened; it is a story about the things that were felt, and there is no living author better at telling a tale of feelings than Michael Ondaatje.

Ondaatje's prose is poetry, and for me, his poetry is lyrically sublime, in the romantic sense of the word. I am awed by what he does, and I long to do it in my own prose.

I don't care whether Anna and Coop and Claire ever find each other through the divisions of solitude they've embraced, and I don't fee
Dec 23, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of the wisdom of a writer who is both a poet and a novelist. Divisadero: the divisions between our lives and the lives of others, and even between our most secret lives inside of us too secret to admit to ourselves. Divisadero: the connections between the divisions that cause us to yearn for the comfort of togetherness, of intimacy. On a palimpsest of a novel painted over by centuries of division and that longing for togetherness, Ondaatje brushes words that will stay with me f ...more
Dec 26, 2008 Trish rated it did not like it
Recommended to Trish by: Tash
Shelves: 2008-read, fiction
God I did not like this book. Really, really did not like it. I read all the 4 and 5 star reviews, I get what people are saying, and I'm just not there. Why get us interested in characters and then abandon them? and why spend time telling us boring things about them (like a whole paragraph describing how she planted seeds in the field by scattering them instead of burying them) and then we find out about major dramatic events only in one passing sentence told as a part of someone else's narrativ ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
For those who have not read an Ondaatje book before, "Divisadero" may not be a good first start. A newer reader may be expecting a plot that rises and crashes as much as the one developed in "The English Patient," which Ondaatje became known best for after the success of the film version. (And even if you haven't watched the movie 10 times over like some of us, you get it: War, lust, affair, secrets, heartbreak, the end.)

But for those who have eaten, lived and breathed his words relentlessly sin
Jul 04, 2008 Serenity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading this book. I found it beautiful, haunting, and while at first I was dissatisfied with the loose and ultimately unresolved nature of the novel, I later decided to accept it and consequently appreciated it much more. Ondaatje is a poet as well as a novelist, and he lets poetry infuse his fiction richly. In this work, I feel that he has taken it one step further and stripped the events in the book to their essence, as in a poem. Read in that way, it no longer matters whether ...more
Aug 07, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: california
This was a fascinating unfolding of story, and simply heavenly writing. What a giant he is.

Divisadero begins as a Steinbeckian story of a small family in the Gold Rush country of California, circa around 1970--a rancher and his two daughters (his wife has died giving birth to one of them, and he left the hospital with another baby, whose mother has similarly died giving birth two her), plus the hired hand, who was taken in by the rancher when his own family was murdered, leaving him the sole sur
Ryan Chapman
Jun 25, 2007 Ryan Chapman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This might bear more fruit on a second reading, but as it is right now I would consider this a lesser Ondaatje than the brilliance displayed in Anil's Ghost and Booker Prize winner The English Patient. The first two-thirds of the text spans the young lives of a mixed family in Northern California and Nevada--the trio of sisters Anna and Claire with adopted farmhand (and John Grady Cole archetype) Coop. There's a predictable/inevitable running through of paradise attained and lost for this fami ...more
May 29, 2008 Miriam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god. Every once in a while and this happens like maybe once a year, I find, you read a book that is just the RIGHT BOOK at the right time. And this is it. Amazing. Gorgeous. It's hard to even say. Because there is also a roughness to it, to the characters that is almost gripping. That and, ta-dah it is so intricately structured. I love structures that I want to think about. And this is one. I want to just turn it over and read it again and again.

It also makes me want to go back and read Th
May 11, 2010 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To explain why I liked this book so much would be to give too much of its pleasures away. I will say, though, that the writing is beautiful and seems effortless. And that its themes are my favorites: memory, loss, connections that are made (but are too soon gone) and connections that are missed (in more than one sense of that word), never to be forgotten and seen everywhere.
David Sasaki
Jul 30, 2008 David Sasaki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Catherine
There is not much I can write about Michael Ondaatje's Divisadero without echoing what all the other reviewers have already written: Ondaatje is a craftsman. His writing reveals decades of self-scrutiny, of each year wanting to say more with fewer words.

Divisadero is about love and the loss thereof. Love falls victim to the jealous wrath of a protective father, to drug addiction, to the minor details of our daily lives, and the greater mystery of the entropy of desire:

Lucien and his future wife
Lisa Ann ☕
As of July 2016, the average Goodreads rating for this book is 3.47. After reading and alternately speed reading through the second half of the book, I actually feel that average rating is generous.

Divisadero was a complete disappointment from start to finish. The only interest it held for me was the connection to California, as I am familiar with some of the settings. Otherwise the book was fragmented, the characters were flat, parts of the story were boring and the lack of dialogue between ch
Feb 01, 2008 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
Maybe 4 +half—Ondaatje’s novels always seem somehow flawed, because they’re not like any other author’s novels. They leave me a little confused and not a little mystified—but a confusion stemming from awe and wonder. Ondaatje’s novels are poems—or, rather, collections of poems in prose of varied pace and pitch—and they can’t be read by the ‘normal’ rules of novel-reading. So, to call “Divisadero” a strange and beautiful concoction is just to say it’s a Michael Ondaatje novel. I say all this beca ...more
Dec 03, 2013 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone French
A very disappointing read. A book that started off with a bang and then just faded in the middle. This fairly recent book was available for sale at the inflated price of $30 in Singapore bookshops so when it popped up in the American Club Library, I figured it was a smart, cost-efficient move. It was since buying the book would have been a waste.
The man can write. His account of a tragic incidents in the lives of two young girls and an orphaned hired hand on a northern California farm creates su
Jul 31, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

When I saw Jaidee review this book today...
( Thank You, Jaidee).., I was bursting with

Why have people not read this book???
It's a slice of heaven. Much of it takes place
Napa, Calif. plus, "Divisadero", is a
famous street in SF .. where the one of the characters -(Anna), - grows up..,,so, much of
the location - of the storytelling is also in SF

I still own it, this nov..( treasure it) I remember 'pre-ordering' it. I had no idea I hadn't reviewed this.
I happen to love how Mi
Laura Byrnes
Apr 22, 2015 Laura Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, and frustratingly unfulfilling...but I think that may be the author's point. The three storylines (filled with a multitude of engrossing characters) are divided by time and place but are supposed to intersect with one another symbolically, spiritually and metaphorically. Sound confusing? It is. It is also hard to articulate a cold hard opinion of this book; to do so lessens the effect of the book. Ondaatje's style is so lyrical, I'd find myself stopping and wanting to write ...more
Jun 30, 2008 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautifully written. It is three disconnected stories in a mosaic. Each beautiful and complete in itself. The stories are linked to each other through a common character. I loved all the characters and was sad to leave them behind as the book moved on to the next story. In this way, it seemed to me to be a more of a collection of short stories sharing characters (similar to Franny and Zooey) than a novel.

Nov 15, 2008 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I very much enjoyed this book. But it was a little confusing toward the end. so I think it may need a second read. I came away with beautiful imagery of how people, specifically all the main characters fragment themselves. I think that the format of the book is also a story/metaphor of this fragmentation.

I'm not saying that any of his other books has straight forward, linear, single protagonist narration, but this literally felt like the narration was shattering towards the end into more and mo
Aug 07, 2007 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sandy
Another outstanding offering from one of my favorite authors. The narrative travels back and forth in time, forging links between the past and the present. Ondaatje gives clues in the content as to the critical themes. "All over the world there must be people like us. . .wounded in some way by falling in love--seemingly the most natural of acts." "We live permananetly in the reoccurence of our own stories, whatever story we tell." ". . .what is most untrustowrthy about our natures and self-worth ...more
Alex Nye
Jul 30, 2012 Alex Nye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, read this in tall narrow house in Nerja, Spain, overlooking Andalucean mountains. Had it on my table to read for months, and didn't get round to it. What I really loved about this book was the fact that Ondaatje is brave enough to let his fiction/story/narrative take him where he pleases. He doesn't feel constrained by some imaginary editor sitting on his shoulder saying critically 'you can't do that' or 'the publisher won't like that.' The beginning of the book opens with a painful love ...more
Well...When you've already written "The English Patient," it's hard to do much better. Unfortunately, it also seems to mean you don't get good editorial advice anymore.

This book has the makings of two good, separate books that would be tied together by a slim plot connection. As it is now, the two story lines are poorly integrated & feel forced.

I found the Cooper story dull, if only because I'm tired of Texas Hold 'Em poker & Las Vegas & America in general.

The Lucien story, on the ot
b borkent
Mar 09, 2008 b borkent rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
as usual Ondaatje incorporates some beautiful imagery and there are some really outstanding sections of this book. However, on the whole, a disjointed piece with a whole lot of exposition and background description, but no sense of resolution to 2 out of 3 parts of the story. The good part, near the end, is just a back story about a character that is already dead and has almost nothing to do with the rest of the book at all. One of the very main characters is conveniently beaten to crap and has ...more
Jun 15, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smooth, skilled writing (if on occasion at bit purple), well-developed characters, generally interesting settings (particularly the early twentieth century French part) all left of the floor at the end as if the author had lost interest and walked away. "Divisadero"--I get it, the fragmentation of modern life the way in which people permanently alter the lives of others and then move on, occasionally circling back, a theme stated clearly and with eloquence in the final pages. The novel shifts na ...more
Apr 13, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I evidently haven't read a Work of Literature for a while. I want to talk about this book with someone who read it!! There was much I loved about each fragment of the story, but only the last part of the novel seemed "complete." I kept waiting to return to the original three characters, and was disappointed. I know this was deliberate on the author's part, but I want to figure out why!!!
Mar 18, 2012 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Divisadero, as its clunky Spanish title unintentionally implies, will divide your opinion at the same time it hovers in the memory long after you finish. Magnificent as well as overblown; embarrassing, yet also intense and ultimately moving; filled with moments that belong in a Mills & Boon romance counter-pointed by mind-blowing feats of linguistic energy and narrative multiplication.

It's a wonder someone can be this great and so lushly bad all at once. What you can't fault Michael Ondaatj
Nov 02, 2012 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero is a novel worth reading for many reasons, and although it’s not a flawless book, as I’ll discuss later, that may even be one of the reasons to read it.
The genius of the book is Ondaatje’s ability to isolate his splendid prose on intriguing characters and settings in such a way that sentence by sentence you feel the presence of a passionate soul. He writes with poetic skill, wisdom, humor, and a startling eye for compelling details.
As a friend said to me not long
Carl R.
May 08, 2012 Carl R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was well into Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje’s very fine latest work, thinking about how appropriate the title was, remembering that Divisadero (Sp. for “divided”) Street in San Francisco once was a major dividing line in the city but unable to remember what it separated. I’d have to look it up, I thought, to write this blog. Then Ondaatje did it for me and added another dimension as well. The street was the border between the city and the fields of the presidio, between the civilians and the so ...more
Jan 19, 2015 Pamela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“Act One” opens on a family farm where two sisters, a brother and a father (the children are not genetically related) live in disharmony. A furious winter storm delivers slashing hail, sleet and snow that buffet these folks hither and thither. It’s a wipeout. People can’t see their way, bodies get slammed against trees, people will freeze to death if they can’t unlock the iced up doors and scramble to safety. It’s a metaphor of the family’s life, of course, but it’s set in Petaluma, California w ...more
Aug 15, 2008 Duc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best
This book could have been two books. I felt that it was rushed to the end a bit. The pace picked up and became less poetic when it should have been more poetic as the later part of the book concentrates on Lucien the poet.
I was not disappointed. After The English Patient and In the Skin of the Lion, I read Anil's Ghost. That book wasn't as poetic. Divisadero is poetic but also high in concept without the accoutrement that goes with high conception. It begins with understanding the title of the n
Mar 14, 2010 emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
For a brief moment, I wondered if maybe I wasn't smart enough. Especially with all the comments on here saying things like "hey, this is just like life, because sometimes in real life narrative threads are lost and we don't really understand what happens."

Then I realized that that's a cheap argument. Because sometimes in real life, my cat poos on the floor and I step in it, but you can't argue that that is therefore deep because it is real. (I am not comparing this to cat poo. Honest.)

My book cl
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The Ending 4 76 Aug 26, 2008 10:51PM  
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He was born to a Burgher family of Dutch-Tamil-Sinhalese-Portuguese origin. He moved to England with his mother in 1954. After relocating to Canada in 1962, Ondaatje became a Canadian citizen. Ondaatje studied for a time at Bishops College School and Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec, but moved to Toronto and received his BA from the University of Toronto and his MA from Queen's Universit ...more
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“...sometimes we enter art to hide within it. It is where we can go to save ourselves, where a third-person voice protects us.” 90 likes
“For we live with those retrievals from childhood that coalesce and echo throughout our lives, the way shattered pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope reappear in new forms and are songlike in their refrains and rhymes, making up a single monologue. We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell.” 87 likes
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