Connections, Past and Present

While the title might sound like a sweet post about loved ones gathering for a family reunion complete with hugs, memories of beloved grandmothers and crotchety uncles, and a plethora of calorie-laden casseroles and rich desserts, it’s not. It’s a review of another one of Louise Erdrich’s novels, The Plague of Doves. Though different in format and tone, some of the characters are the same, and so is Erdrich’s brilliant prose. The quotation marks are there because I copied and pasted the review from Amazon (couldn’t get the link to copy).

“If you want to feel every emotion known to man, read this book. The opening section, “Solo,” is absolutely harrowing. I gasped.

“If you’re looking for something light with an uncomplicated plot, don’t read this. At first, I thought it was a book of short stories, but then I made myself pay closer attention to names and timelines and discovered connecting threads, not only within the novel but also between at least one other Erdrich book, The Round House. I wondered for the umpteenth time how something like this work could come from someone’s mind.

“Although confusing at times, The Plague of Doves is guaranteed to make the reader think and feel. No doubt about it—he or she will learn about life among a group of indigenous people whose lives are related, past and present, while pondering the mysterious “whodunit” aspects of a murder that takes place at beginning of the book. Four people were believed to be responsible for the murder of a family, but only three were hanged. Why is that? And who really did it?

“What I liked about the the novel is what I admire in all of Erdrich’s books: her writing. It’s rich in the sense that so much detailed information about people, events, and places seems to flow so naturally and easily onto the page. Plus, I got to meet some characters from other books (like Mooshum, Clemence, and Geraldine).

“What I didn’t like about the novel was its complexity. But deliberate engagement with the “story” and links between people and their history clarified just about everything. Amazing book!”

Confession: I still don’t know who killed the family. If you’ve read the book and know who the murderers are, let me know.

About jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer
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