Synopses & Reviews
Louise Erdrich's mesmerizing new novel, her first in almost three years, centers on a compelling mystery. The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subsequent distortions of truth transform the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation and shape the passions of both communities for the next generation. The descendants of Ojibwe and white intermarry, their lives intertwine; only the youngest generation, of mixed blood, remains unaware of the role the past continues to play in their lives.
Evelina Harp is a witty, ambitious young girl, part Ojibwe, part white, who is prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a seductive storyteller, a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. Nobody understands the weight of historical injustice better than Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, a thoughtful mixed blood who witnesses the lives of those who appear before him, and whose own love life reflects the entire history of the territory. In distinct and winning voices, Erdrich's narrators unravel the stories of different generations and families in this corner of North Dakota. Bound by love, torn by history, the two communities' collective stories finally come together in a wrenching truth revealed in the novel's final pages.
The Plague of Doves is one of the major achievements of Louise Erdrich's considerable oeuvre, a quintessentially American story and the most complex and original of her books.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Louise Erdrich's imaginative freedom has reached its zenith The Plague of Doves is her dazzling masterpiece." Philip Roth
"Mesmerizing.... With both impeccable comic timing and a powerful sense of the tragic, Erdrich continues to illuminate, in highly original style, 'the river of our existence.'" Booklist (starred review)
"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." USA Today
"[Erdrich] has written what is arguably her most ambitious and in many ways, her most deeply affecting work yet." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Erdrich moves seamlessly from grief to sexual ecstasy, from comedy...to tragedy, from richly layered observations of nature and human nature to magical realism. She is less storyteller than medium." Los Angeles Times
"Erdrich writes from a philosophical, cultural, and historical perspective that is rich and deeply rewarding." Boston Globe
"To read Louise Erdrich's thunderous new novel is to leap headlong into the fiery imagination of a master storyteller." Miami Herald
"At the heart of Louise Erdrich's incandescent novel stands a tree. Roots deep in the North Dakota soil....Ringed with mating and mayhem, friendship and betrayal, stories shared and secrets kept, this tree spreads its branches through the pages of Erdrich's book: from a gritty, colorful adventure of 19th-century town-site expeditioners one arctic winter to the rueful, darkly comic sexual explorations of a naive l970s teenager named (appropriately!) Evelina." Diana Postlethwaite, Ms. Magazine
(read the entire Ms. Magazine review
About the Author
Louise Erdrich lives with her family in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. Ms. Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and this story—which will, in the end, span one hundred years in the life of an Ojibwe woman—was inspired when Ms. Erdrich and her mother, Rita Gourneau Erdrich, were researching their own family history. Chickadee
begins a new part of the story that started with The Birchbark House
, a National Book Award finalist; The Game of Silence
, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; and the acclaimed The Porcupine Year
Ms. Erdrich is also the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels for adults, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves and National Book Award finalist The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She is also the author of the picture book Grandmother's Pigeon, illustrated by Jim LaMarche.