The painted drum at the center of this lovely book is Ojibwe. It is found, radiating shamanic power, by estate appraiser Faye Travers. That Faye herself is Ojibwe is the first of many repeating motifs in this narrative of linked stories about the people whose lives have been changed for good or ill by the drum. Anna Fields's performance is a tour de force. She was coached in Ojibwe pronunciation and is as convincing as gruff Ojibwe Bernard Shaawano, whose grandfather made the drum, as she is portraying the light voices of the doomed girl children who haunt the book and the smoky timbre of an old Indian woman.
From Faye's discovery, we trace the drum's passage, from the reservation on the northern plains to New Hampshire and back. Through the voice of Bernard Shaawano, an Ojibwe, we hear how his grandfather fashioned the drum after years of mourning his young daughter's death, and how it changes the lives of those whose paths its crosses. And through Faye we hear of her anguished relationship with a local sculptor, who himself mourns the loss of a daughter, and of the life she has made alone with her mother, in the shadow of the death of Faye's sister.
Through these compelling voices, The Painted Drum explores the strange power that lost children exert on the memories of those they leave behind, and the intricate, transformative rhythms of human grief. One finds throughout the grace and wit, the captivating prose, and surprising beauty that characterize Louise Erdrich's finest work.
©2005 Louise Eldrich; (P)2005 BBC Audiobook America, Inc. & HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"Erdrich draws us into her exquisitely detailed world effortlessly....Hard to believe, but Erdrich just keeps getting better." (Kirkus Reviews)
This book took me a while to enjoy. It starts slowly but gets very juicy in the second half. I found the Indian characters most compelling. The final scene between mother and daughter moved me to tears. I loved the author's use of language; her dialogues were especially memorable. I would recommend it.
This was recommended to me through a group on ravelry.com. Knitters tend to know good audio books, and they were right on with this one. I was surprised and pleased when the story turned from modern day back to the origins of the drum. I felt the characters were very real, with all their flaws, and yet remarkable because of them. They came across as every day people - neighbors, acquaintances, friends. This is a great read (listen!)
This book sneaks up on you from behind and delivers a subtle, yet powerful, blow between the shoulders which shakes the heart. It builds, turns back on itself, and demands an emotional response. Erdrich circles the story and each turn adds resonance and depth to the characters and to the reader's experience. Highly recommended if you want to experience a book that delves beneath the surface of what it means to be human.
Louise Erdrich has composed a beautiful story about life. As Faye, the main character reflects on her life, she is drawn into other lives past and present. Finding and keeping the drum in order to find it's "true owners" provides the opportunity for Faye to learn more about herself and her mother. The writing is succinct, but not spare. I thought the narrator did an excellent job with this book. At one point, I had to check the narrator because I was convinced it was two narrators.
If you love Erdrich's novels, you'll love this one too. If you're new to Erdrich, this is a good start. It's a bit less dark and complicated than some of her other stories. Though plenty of heartache in this one too, there's a lot redemption and humor, too. Anna Fields goes a great job as narrator. Highly recommended.
I am a high school English teacher who loves to listen to books almost as much as reading them.
Erdrich's style of prose isn't one that lends itself easily to a verbal interpretation, yet Field's does a wonderful job bringing Erdrich's vivid images, complex symbols, and ever-shifting narrators to life. I was especially impressed with her pacing (which allowed the listeners to absorb all of Erdrich's rich language) and her fitting pronunciation/inflection of the Native American Indian specific vocabulary. Simply put, it was lovely to listen to Field's interpretation.
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