If you tend to like the same books I give favorable reviews to, you may want to avoid reading Nicholas Evans' The Divide. Originally published in 2005, my paperback copy has 499 pages. The blurb on the cover promised a whole lot more than Evans' delivered. It was also a bit too much of a woman's novel for my tastes. Pineapple, pineapple, pineapple.
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.