09 September 2014

Today's Read: The High Divide by Lin Enger

What if you did things in the name of the army that you just couldn't put out of your mind? In 1886, Ulysses Pope thought back not to his service in the Civil War but to the role he played in fighting the Plains Indians. Although he couldn't reverse the past, he hoped he could find a way to bring to peace to those he hurt and, at the same time, put his personal demons to rest.

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.

Way out on the lip of the northern plains the small town lay hidden in fog, the few moving about at this hour ghostlike, not quite solid: the shopkeepers, the man driving his water-wagon, the dressmaker with her quick, smooth strides. In a clapboard house a stone's throw from the river, a lean, square-shouldered man knelt before an old flattop trunk.
The High Divide by Lin Enger (Workman / Algonquin Press, 2014, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: the High Plains, 1886
  • Circumstances: Ulysses Pope leaves his family, without warning, to seek redemption; his sons and, later, his wife head out into Indian Territory, following scant clues and rumors, to learn his fate.
  • Characters: Ulysses Pope, a man of secrets; Gretta Pope, a Danish immigrant; Eli and Danny, their young sons; various people they meet on their travels
  • Genre: historical fiction; literary fiction
  • Themes: family; guilt; war; the fading of the Old West; white expansion into Indian lands; environmental issues
  • What I wrote (in part) for the Bloggers Recommend Newsletter: "Enger's concisely and beautifully crafted story of family, secrets, and the passing of the Old West balances the wonder and dangers of the wilderness with a deeply emotional and complex psychological landscape."
  • More thoughts: Although the plot is multilayered, Enger skillfully dovetails the story lines, bringing Ulysses's quest for forgiveness, Gretta's struggle to understand and make peace with her husband, and the boys' adventures neatly together. All the Popes are strong and independent, and yet underneath their individuality flows a strong current of unspoken love and loyalty. As the character study / adventure story takes shape, each member of the family displays a unique form of bravery, both when facing the uncertainties of life on the move and when examining his or her own soul.
  • Recommendations: For those who like literary fiction, stories set in the late 1800s, and writers who can bring the beauty of the natural landscape alive. One of of the best new novels of the fall season.

30 comments:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 9/9/14, 7:01 AM  

This a great intro, the writing made me want to read more -- enjoy and thanks for joining in

Leila @ Readers' Oasis 9/9/14, 7:05 AM  

Hmm, this does sound like a fascinating new novel . . . the family story and the western setting are intriguing. I hadn't heard of this yet, but I think I need to add it to my list for fall!

bermudaonion 9/9/14, 7:55 AM  

I heard a lot about this book at BEA but I'm not crazy about that time period so I'm not sure I'll read it.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 9/9/14, 8:16 AM  

I'm not really into Westerns, but was proven wrong with Lonesome Dove (the only Western I've ever liked). Hope you enjoy it!

Laura Thomas 9/9/14, 8:23 AM  

Not my normal genre but that is a visually written scene. Nice.
Here is my tease - http://fuonlyknew.com/2014/09/09/teaser-tuesdays-80-unbroken-ties-by-m-latimer-ridley/

Pat @ Posting For Now 9/9/14, 8:25 AM  

I enjoyed the opening. It sounds like a wonderful novel.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow 9/9/14, 9:18 AM  

I received this book recently in a box of other books, all of which I'd won on a blog. Looking forward to it!

Thanks for sharing...and here's mine: “THEN AND ALWAYS”

Daryl 9/9/14, 10:11 AM  

i think the last 'western' themed book i read was Lonesome Dove …

Claudia {Sparrowhawk} 9/9/14, 10:44 AM  

It's like the calm before the storm. I love historical fiction, thanks for sharing this one!

Here's mine :)
The Book Thief | Markus Zusak

Heather 9/9/14, 11:16 AM  

Good intro. Sounds like you enjoyed this one. Mine: Emma

JaneGS 9/9/14, 11:50 AM  

Totally my kind of book--historical fiction, Civil War related, western. The opening is very promising. Now on my must read list.

madamevauquer 9/9/14, 12:06 PM  

Mine is set about fifty years before yours! A series mystery by Barbara Hambly, Benjamin January #1 - http://wp.me/pZnGI-cB

Sandra Nachlinger 9/9/14, 12:17 PM  

The author did a wonderful job of describing the small town on a foggy day. I like the way the townspeople gradually appeared. I'll definitely watch for this one.
Here's the link to my Tuesday post: Retirement Can Be Murder.

Topazshell 9/9/14, 1:33 PM  

I like the style of writing. What's in that trunk??

Cleo Bannister 9/9/14, 2:06 PM  

Wow this book seems to have a bit of everything and I do love a good historical novel - thanks for visiting my TT http://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/tuesday-teaser-september-9/

grammajudyb 9/9/14, 2:12 PM  

I would read this one. I really like historical fiction. And although the High Plains location is vast, maybe just maybe it is in my back yard. I need to find out!

Literary Feline 9/9/14, 2:20 PM  

This sounds really good, and not a historical period I have read much about in terms of fiction.

Sarah Mortimer 9/9/14, 3:01 PM  

Sounds like an interesting book! Hope you enjoy it and thanks for stopping by my blog.

Tribute Books Mama 9/9/14, 3:24 PM  

Your teaser got me curious.

Margot 9/9/14, 6:04 PM  

I love this time period and the setting. I'd read it for that alone, but the intro sealed it for me.

Yvonne 9/9/14, 7:47 PM  

This sounds like a good book.

Catherine BookClubLibrarian 9/9/14, 7:59 PM  

Sounds like an interesting story, Beth. I hope you enjoy it.

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf 9/9/14, 8:13 PM  

Love the descriptiveness of the writing!

Kim@Time2Read 9/9/14, 8:20 PM  

This one sounds interesting and I love the cover! I'm going to look for it! Thanks for stopping by!

Nise' 9/9/14, 9:51 PM  

I do like the intro and as a lover of historical fiction this sounds like my kind of book.

Peggy Farooqi 9/10/14, 12:41 PM  

Actually the opening does not do it for me, but the story does sound intriguing.
The Pegster Reads

Julie P. 9/11/14, 2:51 PM  

I need to get to this one! It was quite the popular book at BEA.

Lexxie Lin 9/12/14, 3:11 AM  

The High Divide sounds really good, Beth! Thank you for also including a little something about the characters, the themes and the setting.
Adding to my TBR :)

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

Lu @ Regular Rumination 9/14/14, 5:39 PM  

I read this ages ago when I was still working at Workman/Algonquin and I adored it and the author Lin Enger. I'm so so excited to see the reviews start coming in for this one because I think it's going to do great things. I'm so glad you loved The High Divide!

kelley jensen 9/15/14, 2:36 AM  

Oh I love that opening paragraph. It carries the reader right into the waiting story. Enjoy your book and I'm so sorry about being so late in visiting.

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