The Plague of Doves

( 35 )

Overview

The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation.

Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. And Judge Antone ...

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Overview

The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation.

Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. And Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, who bears witness, understands the weight of historical injustice better than anyone. Through the distinct and winning voices of three unforgettable narrators, the collective stories of two interwoven communities ultimately come together to reveal a final wrenching truth.

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Editorial Reviews

Michiko Kakutani
“Writing in prose that combines the magical sleight of hand of Gabriel García Márquez with the earthy, American rhythms of Faulkner...[Ms. Erdrich] has written what is arguably her most ambitious—and in many ways, her most deeply affecting—work yet.”
Pam Houston
“Wholly felt and exquisitely rendered tales of memory and magic...an intricate tapestry that deeply satisfies the mind, the heart, and the spirit.”
Philip Roth
“Louise Erdrich’s imaginative freedom has reached its zenith—The Plague of Doves is her dazzling masterpiece.”
Booklist
"Mesmerizing… Erdrich ...communicate[s] the complexity and the mystery of human relationships."
Marie Claire
“Erdrich’s latest novel...is so natural you forget there’s a writer behind it...Instantly gripping...”
Booklist (starred review)
“Mesmerizing… Erdrich ...communicate[s] the complexity and the mystery of human relationships.”
Miami Herald
“To read Louise Erdrich’s thunderous new novel is to leap headlong into the fiery imagination of a master storyteller...a rich, colorful mosaic of tales that twist and turn for decades...”
Hartford Courant
“Erdrich has demonstrated a rare ability to create vibrant, wholly original characters and to describe nature in a prose so lyrical it becomes poetry. ‘The Plague of Doves’ is proof that she has yet to exhaust her powerful magic.”
Boston Globe
“The stories told by [Erdrich’s] characters offer pleasures of language, of humor, of sheer narrative momentum, that shine even in the darkest moments of the book.”
Washington Post Book World
“An intricate tale of heartbreak and humor...wondrous novel...What marks these stories...is what has always set Erdrich apart and made her work seem miraculous: the jostling of pathos and comedy...Sit down and listen carefully.”
Elle
“...at once mythic and down-to-earth...beautiful, funny, moving, and unexpected.”
USA Today
“One can only marvel...at Erdrich’s amazing ability to do what so few of us can – shape words into phrases and sentences of incomparable beauty that, then, pour forth a mesmerizing story.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[Erdrich’s] accomplishment in these pages is Tolstoy-like: to render human particularity so meticulously and with such fierce passion as to convey the great, glittering movement of time.”
MORE Magazine
“Erdrich deftly weaves past and present, and her literary territory is as intricate as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.”
Time Out New York
“Erdrich is in top form here...”
Michiko Kakutani
Writing in prose that combines the magical sleight of hand of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with the earthy, American rhythms of Faulkner, Ms. Erdrich traces the connections between these characters and their many friends and relatives with sympathy, humor and the unsentimental ardor of a writer who sees that the tragedy and comedy in her people's lives are ineluctably commingled…her storytelling here is supple and assured, easily navigating the wavering line between a recognizable, psychological world and the more arcane world of legend and fable…arguably her most ambitious—and in many ways, her most deeply affecting—work yet.
—The New York Times
Ron Charles
What marks these stories—some of which appeared in the New Yorker and the Atlantic—is what has always set Erdrich apart and made her work seem miraculous: the jostling of pathos and comedy, tragedy and slapstick in a peculiar dance. As horrific as the crimes at the heart of this novel are, other sections remind us that Erdrich is a great comic writer. When Mooshum isn't leading Eve through the history of her family, he's daring the local Catholic priest to save him or pursuing alcohol and romance with dogged, hilarious determination. Some of the funniest moments take place during a funeral, and even the murders and lynchings that bleed so much heartache are heightened by incongruous notes of humor.
—The Washington Post
Bruce Barcott
In A Plague of Doves, Erdrich has created an often gorgeous, sometimes maddeningly opaque portrait of a community strangled by its own history. Pluto is one of those places we read about now and then when big-city papers run features about the death of small-town America. When you grow up in such a place, people know that your mother was a wild child back in high school. They know why your uncle talks to himself in the grocery store. What Erdrich knows is that this history, built up over generations, yields a kind of claustrophobia that has only one cure: Leave.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly

Erdrich's 13th novel, a multigenerational tour de force of sin, redemption, murder and vengeance, finds its roots in the 1911 slaughter of a farming family near Pluto, N.Dak. The family's infant daughter is spared, and a posse forms, incorrectly blames three Indians and lynches them. One, Mooshum Milk, miraculously survives. Over the next century, descendants of both the hanged men and the lynch mob develop relationships that become deeply entangled, and their disparate stories are held together via principal narrator Evelina, Mooshum Milk's granddaughter, who comes of age on an Indian reservation near Pluto in the 1960s and '70s and forms two fateful adolescent crushes: one on bad-boy schoolmate Corwin Peace and one on a nun. Though Evelina doesn't know it, both are descendants of lynch mob members. The plot splinters as Evelina enrolls in college and finds work at a mental asylum; Corwin spirals into a life of crime; and a long-lost violin (its backstory is another beautiful piece of the mosaic) takes on massive significance. Erdrich plays individual narratives off one another, dropping apparently insignificant clues that build to head-slapping revelations as fates intertwine and the person responsible for the 1911 killing is identified. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Erdrich adds more layers of history to her community centered on an Ojibwe reservation in rural North Dakota, and as her loyal readers understand, she is going to make us work for it. This latest novel (after The Game of Silence, a novel for children) begins with a mysterious killing. As the people of the town of Pluto get the chance to tell their stories, they are attempting to reconcile the tangible with the spiritual, the native with the Eurocentric, and the reason behind the murders is hidden within the struggle. Be it the power of nature, the power of the holy, or the power of one's ancestry, the people that populate these linked tales are at the mercy of unseen forces. Erdrich's stories require our patience, as we are offered bits and scraps that we must somehow arrange in order to get to the sum of their parts. She gives us credit for being smart enough to see the big picture, and the end result is always worth the effort. This work serves to bolster her body of work, and we are fortunate that such a gifted storyteller continues to focus her gaze on this region of the continent. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
—Susanne Wells

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews
The latest Erdrich novel (The Painted Drum, 2005, etc.) about the Ojibwes and the whites they live among in North Dakota spirals around a terrible multiple murder that reverberates down through generations of a community. In the 1960s, Evelina Harp's Ojibwe grandfather, Mooshum, tells mesmerizing stories of his past. Having found a murdered family and saved the surviving baby, Mooshum and three Ojibwe friends were blamed for the killings and lynched by a mob of local whites in 1911. For reasons not immediately apparent, Mooshum was spared at the last moment, but his friends died. Evelina's first boyfriend is Corwin Peace, whose ancestor was one of those lynched. Her favorite teacher, a nun, descends from one of the mob leaders. And Evelina's middle-class parents of mixed heritage straddle the two cultures. Aunt Neve Harp sent her banker husband, who is Corwin's father, to prison after he arranged Neve's kidnapping by Corwin's then teenage uncle Billy in a phony ransom subplot (a little reminiscent of the movie Fargo). Spiritual Billy evolves into the tyrannical leader of a religious cult until his wife Marn Wolde, the daughter of farmers whose land he's taken over, kills him to save her children. While in college Evelina ends up briefly in a mental hospital where she gets to know Marn's lunatic uncle Warren. Corwin, under the positive influence of Judge Coutts and his new wife, Evelina's Aunt Geraldine, becomes a musician playing the same violin that once belonged to his ancestors. Judge Coutts's previous lover Cordelia, an older woman and a doctor who won't treat Indians, was once saved by Mooshum and his friends. Guilt and redemption pepper these self-sufficient, intertwining stories,and readers who can keep track of the characters will find their efforts rewarded. The magic lies in the details of Erdrich's ever-replenishing mythology, whether of a lost stamp collection or a boy's salvation. A lush, multilayered book. Agent: Andrew Wylie/The Wylie Agency
The Barnes & Noble Review
Pluto is a good name for a town in rural North Dakota: small, cold, remote. The fictional town in Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves is not out of place in a state where towns like Bonetrail, Zap, and Wing have been losing population since the 1950s while others have crumbled into husks, eaten by the prairie wind.

My Norwegian-American grandparents, who lived in Fargo, would take us children on long drives across the plains. My grandmother's favorite town was Ayr, and I remember when the number of inhabitants on Ayr's highway sign declined to less than ten. "Poor Ayr," my grandmother said. In Doves, "the dead of Pluto outnumber the living."

As a Dakotan exile, I have always been drawn to Erdrich's writing because of my father's side of the family, German Chippewas in Grand Forks. Erdrich's North Dakota Chippewa novels, written out of homesickness when she lived in New Hampshire, affirm my sense of home. She accurately captures the laconically judgmental wit of people living in a spacious, indomitable land. In Doves, she describes astounding, capricious storms, a winter sunrise "so immediate, so gorgeous, so grim" and the very soil: "rich, black clods you felt like holding in your fist and biting."

In Erdrich's signature meta-narrative style that spirals through past and present time, the repercussions of the unsolved murder of a farm family in 1911 echo through the life of every character in Pluto. One of the central narrators, Evelina Harp, is 12 in the 1960s when her grandfather Mooshum tells her about a second crime, a harrowing tragedy of vigilante injustice in reaction to the murders. Her gradual discovery of Mooshum's role in these events changes the way she feels about her grandfather, and everyone she knows.

Doves, Erdrich's 11th novel, is a departure from the rest, as it does not involve any characters from the earlier books. The location of the reservation and its distrustful relationship with border towns is familiar, and although she understandably insists that the reservation depicted is not Turtle Mountain, where she is enrolled, the details are telling.

Mooshum is Michif, a term for mixed-blood Chippewa or Cree people used in North Dakota (it's Métis in Canada). He's old enough to remember the history of the reservation and carries some of the tribe's cultural traditions, such as storytelling and priest baiting. Much of the humor in the novel comes from Mooshum, whether it's wisecracks or Wile E. Coyotesque shenanigans.

His real name is Seraph Milk. The families in this story have ethereal-sounding names: Harp, Milk, Peace, reflecting complex religious ironies. Rather than being forcibly converted, Erdrich's Chippewa characters have assimilated Catholic images within their indigenous passions and mysteries.

The plague of doves, a mysterious event that fades, disappointingly without elaboration, was experienced by Mooshum in 1896. Were the doves messengers of the biblical Holy Ghost, or like the buffalo, who also massed and disappeared, representatives of a more Chippewa heaven? A clue may be that these doves were not white. In perhaps the most sensual image in a novel packed with transcendent erotic scenes, Mooshum stands "[i]n delight, watching the women's naked, round, brown legs thrash forward" through a sea of murmuring brown doves.

Sex and spirituality vie for people's souls and sanity, but sexuality is more often a healer, celebrating the spirit in the flesh, while religion is a delusional drug. With biting satire and occasional caricature verging on the grotesque, Erdrich sends up hypocritical clergy, charismatic Christian cults and the snake-handling, speaking-in-tongues supernaturalism of non-Indian characters. Meanwhile, the Michif preacher Billy Peace mesmerizes his white flock out of their assets: "The Antichrist is among us / He is the plastic in our wallets."

In contrast, Erdrich's native characters are not stereotypically mystical Indians shape-shifting in the bush. Nor are they casino-rich, conniving politicians. Evelina notes, "We are a tribe of office workers, bank tellers, book readers and bureaucrats."

Still, there is subtle spiritual power in this story. There is a violin that takes a magical journey and bees that enact sweet revenge on a developer, and the notion of progress itself: "The swarm had left the rubble and built their houses beneath the earth. They were busy in the graveyard right now, filling the skulls with white combs and coffins with black honey."

Mooshum's trickster storytelling reflects the flexible Anishinaabe (Chippewa/Ojibwe) oral tradition, the rich specificity of the Ojibwemowin language and the local Michif dialect, a pungent mix of Cree verbs and French nouns. One of Mooshum's characters, Liver Eater, invokes both the ancient cannibal manito Windigo and possibly the evil spirit of alcohol, Mooshum's affliction. Later he plays with the idea of a hungry story, a story so alive it devours its audience, and several of Doves' characters have voracious appetites for reading.

In a refreshing take on native identity, the young Evelina wants to be seen as French. She has a crush on Paris, and her adventures are driven by her obsessions: with her cousin, with her teacher (a nun), and with Ana?s Nin. An affair with an unstable androgynous woman leads her to contemplate coming out as a lesbian, not an easy decision in rural North Dakota.

Erdrich has focused on gender fluidity in other novels; however, it is another theme, dispossession, that brings Evelina to a more complete understanding of herself as native: "I saw the loss of the land was wedged inside of them forever. This loss would enter me too." For native people, loss is leavened by survival, as another Michif character, Judge Antone Coutts, explains, "The old tribal relationship to the land in dreams and intimate knowledge called love is why they still exist as tribes."

When Evelina's voice falters, it is due to the structure of the novel. Doves is constructed around previously published short stories. "The Reptile Garden" and "Shamengwa" are beautifully interwoven to mesh with the larger piece. Marn Wolde's story is overwhelming in its power but takes the reader frustratingly far away from the main characters. "Come In" is narrated by a minor character, and distracting in its provenance. While Evelina becomes captivating in "Sister Godzilla," her voice is detached and didactic in the opening scenes when she looks back in time at her oddly calculating child self or gives a lesson in Métis history. When she reports that a character in one of Mooshum's stories actually existed, and names the source text, it's unclear who did the research, the character or the author. Evelina's authority is not explained, and therefore hard to trust. Similarly, a latecomer character, who unveils a chilling twist, concludes the novel with an unconvincing conceit that it was written as a newsletter for the Pluto historical society.

Doves is a challenging read that would be more accessible if an Ojibwe/Michif glossary and family tree charts were included. It's necessary to flip back to see who's who, and when (there are three characters named Joseph). I was repeatedly haunted by a strong image Erdrich created in the chapter about the first surveyors of Pluto's town site, who set out in the dead of winter. Among their provisions is a thick wool quilt, pieced by Icelandic women, and large enough to cover nine men and a dog. I kept wondering if the novel's concept would expand to cover all the characters and substories within it. In The Plague of Doves, although some of the edges are flapping, the center holds. --Shannon Rothenberger Flynn

Shannon Rothenberger Flynn is an author of nonfiction on Native American subjects. She is writing a novel.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060515133
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 156,295
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich is the author of fourteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the 2012 National Book Award. She lives in Minnesota, where she owns the bookstore Birchbark Books.

Peter Francis James has starred in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions, as well as on such television programs as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, New York Undercover and State of Affairs.

Biography

Award-winning novelist Louise Erdrich grew up in North Dakota, the oldest of seven children born to a Chippewa mother and a father of German-American descent. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1976 and Johns Hopkins University in 1979, supporting herself with a variety of jobs, including lifeguard, waitress, teacher, and construction flag signaler. She began her literary career as a poet and short story writer and won awards in both fields.

In the late 1970s, Erdrich began a unique collaboration with Michael Dorris, a Native American writer and teacher she met at Dartmouth and married in 1981. In a creative partnership that endured throughout most of their 14-year marriage, each writer exerted a profound influence on the other's work. Although their names appear in tandem on the cover of only two books, Route Two (1990) and The Crown of Columbus (1991), literally everything either one produced during this time was a collaborative effort. In 1995, after a series of tragic setbacks, the couple separated; two years later, Dorris committed suicide.

From the beginning, Erdrich has translated her mixed blood ancestry into chronicles of astonishing power and range. Her bestselling debut novel, the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award winner Love Medicine, is a series of interrelated stories about several generations of Chippewas living on or near a North Dakota reservation. Spanning most of the 20th century, the book dispenses with any sort of chronological time line and borrows narrative conventions from Native American oral tradition. Several subsequent novels pick up characters, incidents, and narrative threads from Love Medicine to form an interconnected story cycle.

In her novels, Erdrich explores complex issues of family, personal identity, and cultural survival among full- and mixed-blood Native Americans, delving into mythology and tradition to extract what is both specific and universal. She has been known to rework material, incorporating short stories into long fiction, rewriting, and revising constantly. She continues to write poetry and is the author of several children's books, as well as a memoir of early motherhood and a travel book. She is also a founder of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis, where she now lives.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Louise Karen Erdrich (full name; pronounced "air-drik")
    2. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 7, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Little Falls, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Dartmouth College, 1976; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1979

Read an Excerpt

The Plague of Doves

Chapter One

The Plague of Doves

In the year 1896, my great-uncle, one of the first Catholic priests of aboriginal blood, put the call out to his parishioners that they should gather at Saint Joseph's wearing scapulars and holding missals. From that place they would proceed to walk the fields in a long, sweeping row, and with each step loudly pray away the doves. His human flock had taken up the plow and farmed among German and Norwegian settlers. Those people, unlike the French who mingled with my ancestors, took little interest in the women native to the land and did not intermarry. In fact, the Norwegians disregarded everybody but themselves and were quite clannish. But the doves ate their crops the same.

When the birds descended, both Indians and whites set up great bonfires and tried driving them into nets. The doves ate the wheat seedlings and the rye and started on the corn. They ate the sprouts of new flowers and the buds of apples and the tough leaves of oak trees and even last year's chaff. The doves were plump, and delicious smoked, but one could wring the necks of hundreds or thousands and effect no visible diminishment of their number. The pole-and-mud houses of the mixed-bloods and the bark huts of the blanket Indians were crushed by the weight of the birds. They were roasted, burnt, baked up in pies, stewed, salted down in barrels, or clubbed dead with sticks and left to rot. But the dead only fed the living and each morning when the people woke it was to the scraping and beating of wings, the murmurous susurration, the awful cooing babble, and the sight, to those who still possessed intact windows, ofthecurious and gentle faces of those creatures.

My great-uncle had hastily constructed crisscrossed racks of sticks to protect the glass in what, with grand intent, was called the rectory. In a corner of that one-room cabin, his younger brother, whom he had saved from a life of excessive freedom, slept on a pallet of fir boughs and a mattress stuffed with grass. This was the softest bed he'd ever lain in and the boy did not want to leave it, but my great-uncle thrust choirboy vestments at him and told him to polish up the candelabra that he would bear in the procession.

This boy was to become my mother's father, my Mooshum. Seraph Milk was his given name, and since he lived to be over one hundred, I was present and about eleven years old during the time he told and retold the story of the most momentous day of his life, which began with this attempt to vanquish the plague of doves. He sat on a hard chair, between our first television and the small alcove of bookshelves set into the wall of our government-owned house on the Bureau of Indian Affairs reservation tract. Mooshum would tell us he could hear the scratching of the doves' feet as they climbed all over the screens of sticks that his brother had made. He dreaded the trip to the out-house, where many of the birds had gotten mired in the filth beneath the hole and set up a screeching clamor of despair that drew their kind to throw themselves against the hut in rescue attempts. Yet he did not dare relieve himself anywhere else. So through flurries of wings, shuffling so as not to step on their feet or backs, he made his way to the out-house and completed his necessary actions with his eyes shut. Leaving, he tied the door closedso that no other doves would be trapped.

The out-house drama, always the first in the momentous day, was filled with the sort of detail that my brother and I found interesting. The out-house, well-known to us although we now had plumbing, and the horror of the birds' death by excrement, as well as other features of the story's beginning, gripped our attention. Mooshum was our favorite indoor entertainment, next to the television. But our father had removed the television's knobs and hidden them. Although we made constant efforts, we never found the knobs and came to believe that he carried them upon his person at all times. So we listened to our Mooshum instead. While he talked, we sat on kitchen chairs and twisted our hair. Our mother had given him a red coffee can for spitting snoose. He wore soft, worn, green Sears work clothes, a pair of battered brown lace-up boots, and a twill cap, even in the house. His eyes shone from slits cut deep into his face. The upper half of his left ear was missing, giving him a lopsided look. He was hunched and dried out, with random wisps of white hair down his ears and neck. From time to time, as he spoke, we glimpsed the murky scraggle of his teeth. Still, such was his conviction in the telling of this story that it wasn't hard at all to imagine him at twelve.

His big brother put on his vestments, the best he had, hand-me-downs from a Minneapolis parish. As real incense was impossible to obtain, he prepared the censer by stuffing it with dry sage rolled up in balls. There was an iron hand pump and a sink in the cabin, and Mooshum's brother, or half brother, Father Severine Milk, wet a comb and slicked back his hair and then his littlebrother's hair. The church was a large cabin just across the yard, and wagons had been pulling up for the last hour or so. Now the people were in the church and the yard was full of the parked wagons, each with a dog or two tied in the box to keep the birds and their droppings off the piled hay where people would sit. The constant movement of the birds made some of the horses skittish. Many wore blinders and were further . . .

The Plague of Doves. Copyright ? by Louise Erdrich. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Louise Erdrich is at the top of her game with this terrific tale.

    The massacre occurs on a farm near Pluto, North Dakota. Only an infant daughter survives. The white community is outraged and in a fevered pitch, a posse acting more like a mob search for Ojibwe Indians whom they blame for the horrific incident. When the posse finds several Indians, they hold them responsible without evidence and hang them; one of them Seraph "Mooshum" Milk survives. -------------

    Over the next few decades, the families involved in the lynching incident intermingle. Mooshum's granddaughter Evelina Harp is raised on a nearby reservation in the1 960s and 1970s. As a teen she falls for bad-boy Corwin Peace and is friendly with a nun, who unbeknownst to her is descendents of the lynch mob; in fact she is too as part of her family come from that vigilante mob. Evelina attends college and work at a mental asylum Corwin becomes a felon.------------

    In some ways this excellent story is a series of vignettes that are told in a non-linear manner; a technique that adds depth to what happened in 1911 and how by the 1970s the descendents of those involved in the two murderous incidents have intertwining lives. The complex story line is made even more complex by the many fully developed and important characters although Evelina as the narrator keeps the plot sort of focused. This is a winner as fans learn through a lot of seemingly irrelevant and apparently unrelated clues the truth of that tragic year once the big picture becomes complete. Louise Erdrich is at the top of her game with this terrific tale.---------

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2012

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! hard to follow at first. Essentailly a book of s

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! hard to follow at first. Essentailly a book of short stories but once you find out how they are all connected you will simply just melt. slow start but resounding finish

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2011

    I recommend you read this book you will like it.

    The Plague of Doves By Louise Erdrich The heart of the fictional story is the real 1897 lynching of three First Nation people in North Dakota. The author tells a story of the injustice that the First Nations people in the America¿s received from the white immigrants when the came in contact with each other. I enjoyed meeting each of the characters as the story moves along over the last century revealing how there lives are intertwined. The book is written in an easy to read style and the characters seem as though they could have been someone I know. I say thank you to Louise Erdrich for a good book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    Another great read from Erdrich with a new set of characters.

    It was wonderful to read another Erdrich book... and to see a whole new host of characters. I can only hope she continues, as she has in the past, to develop these characters in further books. I haunting story that is a reminder to how we got where we are today.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A great read

    I loved this book! It's in my top 5 of books read in 2008. A must read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2011

    Wonderful read full of poignant dignity and utter humanity.

    ¿Those powerful moments of true knowledge that we have to paper over with daily life. The music tapped the back of our terrors, too. Things we¿d lived through and didn¿t want to ever repeat. Shredded imaginings, unadmitted longings, fear and also surprising pleasures. No, we can¿t live at that pitch. But every so often something shatters like ice and we are in the river of our existence. We are aware. And this realization was in the music, somehow, or in the way Shamengwa played it.¿ Thus spake the voice of Louise Erdrich in THE PLAGUE OF DOVES, a novel that is itself like a river: sometimes gentle and calm; at other times deep, dark and dangerous; more often than not, tumbling the reader through complex currents of emotion ranging from outright laughter to despair and ultimately into a lingering melancholy touched by a glimmer of hope. As is usual when I read Erdrich, I stayed up well into the night to finish this book in one sitting. From the tragic opening chapter and the repercussions of the act that shadowed the story right until the pragmatic voice of Doctor Cordelia Lochren finally resolves all the unanswered questions, the subtle threads that bind the characters and their lives together across time and generations and race are woven into a story that, as the ¿strange sweetness¿ of violin music does, shatters our expectations. Beautifully written, both lyrical and mystical, the story Erdrich tells never glosses over the legacies that we both inherit from our ancestors and ourselves plant for our descendants. From the surreal voice of Marn Wolde to the iconoclastic bantering of the Milk brothers, the characters discover that the lives we live are the sum of our past and of our own choices: ¿freedom,¿ says the gifted violinist Shamengwa, ¿is not only in the running but in the heart.¿ And, as Judge Antone Bazil Coutts reflects on his life ¿ from a torrid youthful affair with an older woman to his early work as a grave digger ¿ he realises that ¿only the dead [are] at equilibrium.¿ When one reads THE PLAGUE OF DOVES, there is no equilibrium: one is swept along from page to page and left gasping at the poignant dignity and utter humanity of the characters inhabiting this must-read novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2010

    Beautiful Writing

    I found the writing to be beautiful, but the plot-line to be occasionally confusing. Part of the problem was that I listened to this on tape, which made it difficult at times to keep track of the varying voices and narrators. Being from ND, I especially enjoyed that the book was set in North Dakota.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2009

    quirky

    I had a hard time reading this book. It does have an original plot with stand out characters but they hardy seemed to be believable. I was reading it for book club and I don't think I would have finished it if I wasn't going to discuss it. I found the book tedious and not free flowing and I wasn't alone in my reactions.Some members didn't finish it because they thought it lost direction too. On the positive side, she has presented memorable but "quirky" characters. We read challenging books in our book club but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Master Storyteller Creates a Deep and Entertaining Mystery

    The horrific murder of a farm family in 1911 and the shameful act of vigilantism that followed have affected the lives of nearly everyone in the town of Pluto, North Dakota and the adjoining Ojibwe reservation for decades, yet the murder was never solved.

    Using several narrators, Ms. Erdrich creates such authentic voices that I felt that I was listening to their stories rather than reading them. She is a master storyteller whose characters are unique, engaging and utterly real. They reveal their lives while slowly revealing the details of that terrible day in 1911. They show how deeply those events have become entwined in the history and the psyche of the community.

    Yet they have their own lives, full of passions, ambitions, hatreds, loves and those lives become entwined with the history as well. The lives portrayed are fascinating - some quite funny, some eccentric, some painful. They are all compelling.

    One of the most compelling is the story of the violin and its players. These musicians have such passion and skill that their music can make the listeners feel whatever emotion they need to experience - love, joy, peace and perhaps even justice.

    This is a wonderfully entertaining and yet haunting work that is capable of generating many incisive discussions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2008

    A reviewer

    I think it sounds good! I'm going to read him when it comes out.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Excellent read!

    I enjoyed how each history tied the characters together and through a wide array of emotions.

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  • Posted March 18, 2013

    It may be a little of challenge following the style, but it is w

    It may be a little of challenge following the style, but it is worth the investment. It will help to make some simple notes on who is related to who and the timeline of their respective story.

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  • Posted September 24, 2009

    Didn't Grab Me in time to enjoy the book

    It was difficult understanding and following the characters; definitely not a page turner.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2009

    I made it through..........

    Not up to her usual standards. Plot was confusing at best. Some interesting characters and an unusual narration but a real drudge for me. Loved visiting her bookstore in Minneapolis/St.Paul. She stopped by and was charming.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Disappointing

    Louise has to be one of my all-time favorite writers. I've had the book for quite sometime , but finally got around to reading it. I was very disappointed. I had a heck of a time following the plot. The first few chapters when she was talking about the women dancing with doves flying made sense as well as the tales of abuse etc., but then all of a sudden I had to turn the book over to see if I had mistakenly picked up the wrong book! I kept reading for several more chapters and I still couldn't make sense of it. It seemed that nothing made sense or was even connected to anything else. I know Louise writes exceptionally well and it just didn't measure up to her usual mark of excellence. Well only one of her books that I didn't like I guess isn't too bad. Just hope her next one is up to her usual!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    Not a book I would recommend...

    Three quarters through this book I wondered how the author would manage to pull together all the weird characters: an evangelist, a lesbian who interns in a mental hospital and ends up being admitted as a patient, an ancient Native American, etc., etc. In the end I was not satisfied with the forced result. The plot was a bit too obtuse, and none the characters were particularly endearing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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