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The High Divide

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,560 ratings  ·  281 reviews
“A deeply moving, gripping novel about one man’s quest for redemption and his family’s determination to learn the truth . . .  Layered with meaning, this remarkable novel deserves to be read more than once. The High Divide proves Enger’s chops as a masterful storyteller.”Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise 

In 1886, Gretta Pope wakes one morning to discover that her h
...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Algonquin Books
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Carol This book has neither sex nor violence! Just very good storytelling!

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  1,560 ratings  ·  281 reviews


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Jessaka
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
When Greta and her teo sons woke up the next morning he was gone. It couldn’t have hurt more, but Greta knew that Ulysses was leaving, maybe it was the way he acted the night before, the fight they had had, or something he had said. Her youngest son by 5 years ran off to find him, but his brother Eli dragged him back home, kicking and screaming. Two months went by, but he still hadn’t returned, never wrote, and never even sent money. Greta had the rent to pay, needed food for the boys. What kind ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
A great historical fiction novel, Enger delivers convincing characters and a compelling story in this bygone mystery and adventure odyssey. THE HIGH DIVIDE is good reading.
Rebecca
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enger’s second novel, set in 1886, ranges from Minnesota to Montana to track a herd of buffalo – and one family seeking to make amends. Atmosphere is key; the book works well as a snapshot of a particular time and place. Sacrifice, family loyalty, remorse, and being or treating a stranger are all strong themes. Enger also exposes the shadow side of legends: General Custer does not seem such a heroic figure once details of the Washita Indian massacre come to light, and Ulysses’s name reminds read ...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 07, 2014 rated it liked it
All the flavors and atmosphere of the Old West. Flashbacks regarding Custer and his atrocities against the Indians and William Barnaby, from the Smithsonian who wants to kill and stuff as many buffaloes as he can before they disappear completely. Set in 1886, starting in Minnesota, we meet Greta Pope, a woman alone now that her husband has left, whereabouts unknown. Her two sons taking off to track down their father, Ulysses. Yes, another Ulysses off on his own quest, leaving his wife in dire st ...more
Cher
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cover_lover
2 stars - Meh. Just ok.

I didn't find this one to be deeply moving and it certainly was not gripping, so the synopsis is a bit misleading. I liked it enough to read through to the end though I never felt very connected to the story and the ending was far from being a saving grace. For me, it was a passable, but overall very slow story.

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Favorite Quote: N/A.

First Sentence: That summer was cool and windless, the clouds unrelenting, as if God had reached out
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Schuyler Wallace
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing


Lin Enger has written a classic novel of family disorder in nineteenth century United States centering in the vastness of Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana. It’s not a new story; a man driven by hidden urges leaves his wife and young boys and disappears. That wasn’t uncommon for the time as poverty and restlessness dominated many lives and caused emotional separations. Many books have been written on this theme.

Enger’s characterizations pull this novel above the norm and features a father with
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Mary
Set against the backdrop of the American West, this quiet book is about one man's all-consuming quest for redemption and how it affects his wife and two sons. The writing is lovely and the characters are complex, interesting, and believable. The boys, especially, deserve more page time. They do a lot of growing up within the framework of the story, and their journey to find their father intrigued me more than other aspects of the story. Though I couldn't quite support the main character's unexpl ...more
Marsha
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a very personal 5 rating because I realize this is not a perfect novel, but I loved it.
Andrew Wolgemuth
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Nothing to see here - just another lovely Western(ish) drama about cheap grace and forgiveness and vulnerability and courage and marriage and family and journeys. Just another tremendous Enger novel...you've seen this before.
Sam Sattler
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The High Divide" is the story of a man with a past, a past that he is embarrassed to share with his wife and sons, a past that haunts him so continuously and so badly that he is compelled to find a way to make things right - or die trying. This is why early one 1886 morning, with only a hidden note left behind to mark his leaving, Ulysses Pope leaves his Minnesota home behind, effectively abandoning his wife and sons to the mercy of the man who owns the mortgage on the Pope home - a man not abo ...more
Carol
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a story of a journey, a man's quest for redemption. Ulysses leaves his home in Western Minnesota in 1886, without telling his wife or sons. He simply disappears into the Dakotas. With little to go on, his young sons go after him without a word to their mom. Then Gretta, Ulysses wife also leaves, hoping to find answers back in St. Paul where she met him right after the Civil War, hoping to find her boys and her husband. The novel is the story of a man hiding his past from his family, of a ...more
Marvin
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
This novel by Lin Enger, brother of Leif Enger, the author of the wonderful Peace Like a River, is reminiscent of that one. Set in 1886, it's the story of a family--father, mother, two teenaged sons--dealing with the father's desertion. The two boys set out from their home in western Minnesota for the West in search of their father, and eventually the mother does so as well. Meanwhile, we learn of the father's pilgrimage to come to terms with his soldier past. In the course of the story, all fou ...more
Nan Williams
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: no-more, quit
This one just didn't do it for me. I struggled through the first half before deciding that whatever the deep dark secrets were, was not worth my time and effort.

I'm sorry. It was boring, boring, boring. All I got out of the first half was that there were secrets being concealed from everyone. Not my kind of book nor my journey in life.

I think this whole "secret" business got started with the "Secret Life of Bees." Since that time, many and multiple authors have jumped on that bandwagon and tried
...more
Larry Watson
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A stirring saga of life on the northern plains.
Susan Bennett
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I would describe this book as a Western, but there are so many layers to it. It's hard for me to pick a favorite character, but I think I liked the oldest son the most and for him and his younger brother, this is a coming-of-age story. Again, there are many layers to the novel and the brothers' point of view is just one. It was bittersweet for me to read about the beauty and freedom of the American West and the atrocities committed in the name of westwar ...more
Ida Simonson
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marian Bart
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At the library, I kindof picked this book by mistake, but I am so glad I did. It is consistently interesting, rich in meaning, and beautifully constructed.
Laura (booksnob)
The High Divide by Lin Enger

Ulysses Pope has a secret past that is haunting him. He is a veteran from the Civil War living in a small home with his wife and two children in a Northern Minnesotan town called Sloan's Crossing in 1886. Ulysses is restless and after a argument with his wife, Greta he leaves and doesn't return home. He is headed West to atone for his sins and make peace with his soul. He travels through North Dakota to meet up with an old friend and then he plans to go to Montana, to
...more
Shannon
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it
This book has its good points and a few not so good ones. It's a fairly interesting subject and a great setting. The beginning with all the mystery was the best part for me and it got me to really want to keep reading. But then some of the bad kicked in. The mystery was mostly solved about halfway through, and when it was, there was little driving the plot. Yes, there were still things for us to learn, but they weren't very interesting and I didn't care enough about the characters to really worr ...more
Linda
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
WOW! From the first sentence -"that summer was cool and windless, the clouds unrelenting, as if God had reached out his hand one day and nudged the sun from its rightful place"- to the prophetic words of Magpie a plains Indian warrior -"What we did was good and what we had to do - but it didn't change things." Magpie laid a palm across his chest. "Not for me. I could see that even if I did have a son,I would have no world for him," I was hooked and in love with this book.

It transports the reader
...more
Mandy
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
When Gretta Pope wakes one morning to discover her husband Ulysses has disappeared, her sons Eli and Danny decide to go and find him. When time goes by and no news comes from her boys or her husband and finding herself in an increasingly precarious financial situation, she sets off in pursuit. What follows is a gripping and often very moving story about love and family and loyalty. Set against a backdrop of the Great Plains, with vivid descriptions of the landscape and a real sense of the time a ...more
Sara
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readin17
"A story to get lost in," says the blurb on the cover, and that was certainly true. I loved this story and its characters.

1. This sounds particularly relevant to our day: "Men have a weakness that way, a need to find some king or preacher, a politician or a general, and then offer themselves up to him. It’s a human trait that’s come to make me ill. Respect where it’s due, now that’s one thing. But listen here—don’t be quick to look up to a man who seems to take pleasure in your looking up to him
...more
Marjorie DeLuca
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The High Divide is a gentle, beautifully structured novel set mainly in the western frontier, and reminiscent of works by the great Canadian writer, Guy Vanderhaaghe.
Lin Enger tells the story of a family living in Minnesota in the late 19th century. At the opening, the father walks out out one morning and doesn't return leaving his wife and two sons to cope in his absence and to wonder why he left. The two sons set out to find him leaving their mother alone and vulnerable. Soon she sets out in p
...more
Cindy
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it


Set in the American West in 1886 The High Divide is a western although not your typical western. Ulysses Pope abandons his family (or does he?) in the beginning of the story. He is searching for redemption--to right a wrong that has been weighing on his mind. Gretta Pope, his wife, wonders why he left as she struggles to keep her family and home together. Her sons, Eli and Danny, sneak away one night to find their father. Soon after Gretta leaves her home to find her sons and find answers.

It to
...more
Grace
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
ok wow. So up until now, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger has been one of my favorite books, but now his brother Lin comes across with this one that is right up there next to it. Amazing talent in this family! Ulysses Pope leaves one day and doesn't return; his wife and two sons wait until their money is pretty much gone. The boys can't stand waiting and hop a train, looking for their dad, and eventually Gretta, the left-behind wife, follows as well. With no one really knowing where Ulysses went ...more
Amanda
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
I had to read this; the author was my advisor in college. I didn't like it as much as his brother's Peace Like a River. This didn't flow as well. The sense of adventure got caught up in too many words. I liked the sons in the story. I thought they were real and sympathetic. I didn't find the wife very sympathetic (despite her bad lot) and didn't care much for the husband. You don't abandon your family for months to right a wrong. It was noble to reach out to the Cheyenne man, but didn't have to ...more
Melody
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a terrific setting and time period to read about. While the South was just emerging from Reconstruction and the Industrial Revolution was in full force, the west/midwest was still recovering from the addition of battles with Native Americans and mass destruction of the bison population. In The High Divide, much of this is backdrop. The Pope family is thrust into turmoil when the father leaves home without warning, and these relationships (internally and externally) pull the reader through t ...more
Linda
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this western story of family relations and a quest to put to rest the demons of post-traumatic stress. This book places PTSD in the context of the frontier Indian Wars just after the Civil War, and how much misunderstanding and pain can come to loved ones when nothing can be talked about or shared. And a good adventure in 1886--the railroads are busy, towns established, the country at peace, and a handful of bison still roaming the remote prairie.
Martha Tomhave
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
now I understand why reviewers call a book "compelling "- I forced myself to read more slowly, so I could give proper attention to the author's sentences. They are beautiful, intense, lucid, purposeful. Writerly, the writer I have in mind being Willa Cather. Great plot, yes, but the author's way with words almost made the plot unnecessary. A remarkable and wonderful book.
Darlene Franklin
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Enger's descriptions of scenery, life, culture of white and Indian, makes this a moving, highly enjoyable read. I was immersed in the beauty of the land and the strength of the people who lived, survived, in this wild, spectacular land. One of my favorite reads this year!
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Lin Enger has published two previous novels, Undiscovered Country and The High Divide, a finalist for awards from the Midwest Booksellers Association, the Society of Midland Authors, and Reading the West. His stories have been published in literary journals such as Glimmer Train, Ascent, and American Fiction. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received a James Michener Award, a Minne ...more

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