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Shadow Tag: A Novel (Unabridged)
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Shadow Tag: A Novel (Unabridged) [Audio Download]

by Louise Erdrich (Author), Coleen Marlo (Narrator)
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 48 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 2 Feb 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003834W6E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Product Description

When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary-hidden where Gil will find it-into a manipulative farce.

Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, Shadow Tag is an eerily gripping read. When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the 19th century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife-work that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shocking-realizes that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career.

Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: 14-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an 11-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, at the beginning of the end. As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies.

In brilliantly controlled prose, Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family¹s struggle for survival and redemption.

©2010 Louise Erdrich; (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
In this relentlessly domestic novel about a failed marriage, Louise Erdrich changes her focus from grand themes and the on-going history of Native American cultures to a microscopic analysis of the interactions of two people who have failed, not just in their marriage, but in virtually all their other relationships. Gil, a well-recognized, almost-great artist, is thirteen years older than Irene, who had been his student and model. Devoting virtually his entire career to paintings of Irene, he has depicted her from her almost-innocent twenties to her present life as a heavy-drinking mother of three who despises him for dominating and controlling every aspect of her life.

Living in a three-story house in metropolitan Minneapolis, Gil and Irene lead a comfortable life, their three children all in private schools, and Irene with enough time to work on a new PhD thesis, this one on George Catlin, the American artist who traveled the west in the 1830s and 1840s making portraits of Native Americans from as many tribes as he could find. Irene is three-quarters Native American; Gil is 1/4 at most, yet both consider themselves Native Americans. Both have grown up in families without fathers, in homes which have not stressed their culture, and neither seems to have developed any inner resources or community ties to help deal with the crises they face on a daily basis in their crumbling marriage.

When Irene discovers that Gil has been reading the Red Diary she keeps in a file cabinet in her basement office, further proof of his need to control, she decides to take revenge, deliberately fabricating stories to shock and hurt Gil. She also opens a safety deposit box in town and makes regular trips to it to write the truth in a Blue Notebook that she has deposited there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully intense domestic revelation 13 July 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Louise Erdrich's work since reading 'Tracks' shortly after it was published many years ago. Given the subject matter of this book I felt somewhat cautious about it as it seemed such a departure from her usual territory so to speak.

Some reviewers of her other books have described how her prose is so intense at times that you cannot read too much of it at one sitting. I readily agree and find myself in the same category of readers. I was surprised therefore when I got through this book far more quickly than I usually do with her books. But that is not meant in any way as a criticism. The writing is of a much different kind I think in this book. The emotional intensity of the story propels you through the book. It's almost as if there is a voyeuristic quality to it at times and you feel as though this is subject matter far too personal to be 'let in on'. You are left in no doubt by the end of it that, at the very least, some of the events portrayed have to be autobiographical. Neither the husband or wife emerges from this story with much dignity as they are both burdened with top-end character flaws. The damage they inflict on each other is multi-faceted and unrelenting at times. At no point did I feel that my sympathies lay with one or the other of them. But for all that, at a very deep level their love for each other manages to shine through but never actually saves them.

Erdrich also manages to clearly show the effects of domestic abuse on the children involved and she does this in a very simple an un-dramatic way. There is a very moving scene about a third of the way into the book where she describes how the children react when they hear their parents fighting. The description is very very simply done but intensely powerful at the same time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Annie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mesmerising words and an original way of using them are what makes everything Louise Erdrich writes special, be warned she's addictive!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ingmar Bergman also ran 2 May 2013
By Dreamer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good writer, a clever writer, but a little too self-indulgently and self-consciously clever. All such reviews are necessarily subjective, and my response may be more of a tribute than a serious criticism, but I cannot understand why anyone would wish to read anything which wallows to such an extent in dysfunction, debasement, and betrayal with absolutely no sympathetic characters, and no discernible suggestion of redemption.I would have abandoned it within a few chapters had it not been required reading for a Book Club, and I did not change my mind thereafter. The Book Club was divided in its opinion!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadow tag 6 Nov 2011
By cbro
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A beautiful, disturbing masterpiece! A welcome break from her usual stories, yet still full of insightful perceptions and wonderful prose which takes the reader to a different level. Neither of the main characters are sympathetic or endearing but her portrayal of the children (and of course the dogs) is both moving and heartwrenching. This is a very sad and somewhat morbid tale, yet as always Erdrich draws you into their world and makes you an integral part of the catastrophe that is their marriage. I couldn't decide who I despised more, the abusive, self-indulgent husband or the drunken, pathetic, cruel wife but I couldn't put it down and in spite of everything which had gone before, I found myself stunned and shocked by her ending.
If you like really first class writing and excellent storytelling, you can't help but be impressed by this novel.
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