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Editorial Reviews

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.

Publisher's Summary

When Faye Travers is called upon to appraise the estate of a family in her small New Hampshire town, she isn't surprised to discover a forgotten cache of valuable Native American artifacts. However, she stops dead in her tracks when she finds in the collection a rare drum, ornamented with symbols she doesn't recognize and dressed in red tassels and a beaded belt and skirt, especially since, without touching the instrument, she hears it sound.

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.

Critic Reviews

"Erdrich draws us into her exquisitely detailed world effortlessly....Hard to believe, but Erdrich just keeps getting better." (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kathy
  • Oakland, CA, USA
  • 01-25-06

Worth sticking with

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Tifton, GA, United States
  • 06-10-08

Thoroughly Enjoyable

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!)

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful

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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hurting and healing

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carolyn
  • Middletown, CT, USA
  • 07-24-10

Great listen

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fields brings to life Erdrich's vivid imagery.

What about Anna Fields’s performance did you like?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Two narrators?

I attended my monthly book club, we were reading and discussing The Painted Drum. It is a wonderful story, well written and many quotable sections. One of the members played the audible version narrated by a Native American woman, possibly the author. I fell in love with her voice so I downloaded the audible version to listen to the book only to hear a very plain, boring American woman's voice, not the rich native voice I heard earlier in the evening. I turned it off after a couple minutes and I'm looking for a refund. I'm so disappointed.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Meh.

Midlife crisis woman with commitment issues tied into a story of an old native American man who gave up on his family because his wife cheated on him. He made a drum which apparently healed and killed people. Blah-blah.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable

I thoroughly enjoyed the story within the story. As a woman connected to my own drum, I learned something more about the depths of each drum as an individual, and the connection to its maker and people.

I also truly enjoyed the story of the women who discovered this artifact and brought it home just in time.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another fabulous work by Louise Erdrich

I dont write many reviews, but over the last year I have come to realize how businesses like Audible base their libraries off of majority requests and favorites, so here I am.

There are many great books by Erdrich and I find myself pulled into the cast of characters through Anna Fields narration. I do wish there were more titles of the related stories narrated by her, and also made available here.

As for this novel, it is a delight to return to this part of the world, into the lives of descendants of characters I loved from her earlier novels Tracks and Four Souls. I have not yet gotten my hands on a copy of Love Medicine which I understand to be another tale of these same people but, I almost feel at this point it may be incomplete without hearing it told from Fields voice.

A tale so painful and clear is rarely told so poignantly, and with every detail of space and person Erdrich brings you emotionally into the healing taking place in the lives of her characters. I’ve never more fully understood the sacredness of a drum, nor will I ever question its purpose or place in the lives of these Native Americans again. I feel as though I have been given a PhD worth of information on the Drum through detail of process, image, and emotional connection that only the very best stories can give a reader.

The Painted Drum is as riveting and harrowing a story as any of the others, I just wish the individual stories were not left so open ended. I find myself feeling this way about other of Erdrich’s novels too. I just wanted to know more about the families and how they moved on, or didn’t, and if there is ever a homecoming for the main character in her native village or not. I guess that’s the best way an author can leave a story, with the audience wanting more, I just hope my fantasy of reading more of these characters can someday become a reality.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kim Osborne
  • 03-05-18

Brilliant Read

This book was recommended by a friend and I have loved listening to it. It's beautifully written and in a way which invokes great imagery to the listeners. Performed wonderfully and I loved the rhythm of the storytelling.

This is not a book I would have picked for myself, but it has truly snuck into my soul as a favourite that I'm sure I'll return to again. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone even if you think you may not enjoy this as I feel you will be pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment you get from this read/listen.