“The rough country between the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. The divide between those two watersheds. I scouted it this spring. It’s full of rugged ground, like you say – coulees, buttes, and badlands, with a little dry-grass prairie thrown in. The High Divide, they call it.” – from The High Divide –
Ulysses Pope is carrying dark secrets and deep regret, and he is looking for redemption when he walks away from his wife, Gretta, and his two young sons and heads into the rugged badlands of Montana in 1886. But Gretta has no idea where Ulysses has gone or why, and she is struggling to survive with little money and no resources in a small town on Minnesota’s western prairie. When her two sons, Eli and Danny, also disappear, she knows she can no longer sit and wonder…she must find her husband no matter where he has gone or who he is with, and she must bring her sons home.
Award-winning author Lin Enger has penned a truly American novel set in the West during the later part of the nineteenth century. His descriptions of the endless plains and lonely landscapes that stretched across Montana are gorgeous and heartbreaking. Enger explores the themes of regret and redemption against the historical background of the Indian Wars, decimation of the bison and the turmoil of the pioneer expansion into Indian lands.
This is the first novel by this author which I have read and I was moved by the Enger’s honest and poignant prose.
The characters are lovingly developed by Enger who uses alternating points of view to give the reader greater depth and understanding of each one. Ulysses is a complex character, and it is he who drives the narrative as he travels the road to redemption and forgiveness. Gretta ‘s character grows from a woman who has left her home in Denmark and depends on her husband for survival, to someone who must find the inner strength to take action in order to improve her situation. Danny and Eli come of age as the novel progresses, forced to face their parent’s demons and reconcile these against their own needs as young boys.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about a family divided who must overcome the odds to find their way back to each other. Richly penned with a deep insight into the characters, The High Divide will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction, literary fiction, and novels set in the West.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book through the Library Thing Early Review program.