Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Sister Leopolda's piety and is faced with the most difficult decision of his life: Should he reveal all he knows and risk everything? Or should he manufacture a protective history though he believes Leopolda's wonder-working is motivated by evil?
©2001 Louise Erdrich; (P)2001 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"Erdrich's prose is beautiful and the tale fascinating and enjoyable." (AudioFile)
"Erdrich renders her North Dakota world of the Ojibwe with a lyrical and richly metaphorical prose style....Fields has a pleasing voice, a fine feel for the material and the characters and a knack for low-key dramatization." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is Erdrich writing at the peak of her powers, embracing both the earthy sensuality and abiding spirituality of her characters and energizing the whole with a raucous humor that is at once self-deprecating and life-enhancing." (Booklist)
This is a remarkable book that provides new challenges with every twist of the story. What would motivate a person to make the decisions that Agnes/Modeste makes? Where does the "real" story end and fantasy begin? This book has the fantastical feeling of "Life in the Time of Cholera" and yet it is very solidly rooted in the realities of Native American life on a reservation. Who are all the people and how are they all related? It is a challenge in some ways to listen rather than read this book because there are so many rich characters. Once again, I would recommend that Audible provide a written list of characters for those who purchase this audiobook.
All of these challenges add up to a compelling read, a bit discouraging at times because it is not always clear where the story is going with all its diversions, but ultimately the story and all the characters are solidly wrapped up tight. I highly recommend it for the fine writing and incredible characters the author has created; it is one of the most inventive and least predictable books I have read in a long time.
I also have very high praise for the narrator. Having listened to other books she has read, I doubt very much that Anna Fields is an Ojibwe Indian, but she portrays one without a flaw. As well as dozens of other characters with authenticity and clarity. I felt like applauding when she ended.
Erdrich is one of the most captivating novelists writing today and this may be her finest work. Love, faith, passion, what it means to be human outside of gender identities and cultural barriers - she weaves these themes through an engaging dramatic storyline that will leave you thinking about it long after the story is over. Get this book.
Here is are several tales, wound together by the characters themselves. The book is almost an epic but more intimate. It is a rare thing to find a book with such broad scope and emotional precision.
I can't say enough good things. Get this book.
It's a pretty good read. Great Indian perspective and a fun example of Catholicism at it's best! Take the time to read this. I think you'll enjoy it.
I got about 1/3 of the way through this book. I thought the writing was excellent and the narration superb. The only problem: the story simply did not hold great interest for me. I found I was forcing myself to continue listening. I finally gave up. This is not to contradict the many people who did find this novel thoroughly enjoyable, engrossing, and worthwhile.
This was not for me and focused far too much on a wicked pleasure of lust. I was unable to appreciate it and did not get into it very far before deciding I had better things to listen to.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
Although there were moments of pleasure for me while reading this book, overall it was a long slog for me with not enough reward. The story was interesting to a point but too drawn out. There were so many characters that I had trouble keeping them all straight. I really tried. I would read carefully and understand a certain twist of the plot. Then the plot would take off in another direction with another character or set of characters. By the time the plot finally came back to the first character… well, who WAS that character?
And it didn’t help that the author used elements of fantasy throughout. Although I tend to love magical realism when done well, to me it did not work here. All the flights of fancy seemed only to be confusing. At times the book seemed caught between a serious novel and some kind of farce. This seemed true, for example, with the bank robber, “the actor,” in the beginning of the book. The way Erdrich handled the kidnapping of Agnes and the subsequent chases and car scenes seemed more ridiculous then magical or entertaining, enlightening or anything.
Another chapter that used this same “magical” technique was, however, one of my favorites. This was the one about Nanapush and his wife Margaret and how he dies from her cooking. That was great. This story or section showed how Erdrich can be humorous and touching at the same time, which is a great skill. I was laughing and crying at almost the same time here. It is the only time, however, that the magical aspect worked. The chapter was still overdone in it’s farcical nature, but in the end it was a clever vignette within the main plot. There were just too many chapters that were vignettes of various characters and their stories, and overall that drew the whole book out too much.
By the end, I did love Father Damien and all “he” had been through.
Marie Kashpaw. She seems central to the story, but frankly it was a let down at the end when I read about her mother and what had happened to them both. It was hard to figure it all out. Her story had been so far back in the book that I had to do a search for her name and read it all again to try and make sense of it. By this time I didn’t much care, however.
a stunning and intriguing story. magnificently performed. it has been a long time since I read Erdrich and I expect I'll be visiting other works of hers! beautiful storytelling
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