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The Plague of Doves Paperback – 5 May 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (5 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007270763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007270767
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 326,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Louise Erdrich is one of the most gifted, prolific, and challenging of American novelists. Her fiction reflects aspects of her mixed heritage: German through her father, and French and Ojibwa through her mother. She is the author of many novels, the first of which, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the last of which, The Round House, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012. She lives in Minnesota.

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Review

‘Louise Erdrich’s imaginative freedom has reached its zenith – ‘The Plague of Doves’ is her dazzling masterpiece.’ Philip Roth

'A masterly new novel … Writing in prose that combines the magical sleight of hand of Gabriel Garcia Marquez 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.' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

‘Confirms her reputation as a writer able to combine the apocalyptic with the mundane world whose inhabitants are set loose to roam the heavens in spirit but are ballasted always by their defiantly human bodies.' Observer

'You could read Louise Erdrich's latest book for its wisdom … Or you could read ‘The Plague of Doves’ for its poetry … in the end, you’ll read this book for its stories … The stories told by her characters offer pleasures of language, of humor, of sheer narrative momentum, that shine even in the darkest moments of the book.' Boston Globe

'Wholly felt and exquisitely rendered tales of memory and magic … By the novel’s end, and in classic Erdrich fashion, every luminous fragment has been assembled into an intricate tapestry that deeply satisfies the mind, the heart, and the spirit.' O magazine

About the Author

Louise Erdrich is one of the most gifted, prolific, and challenging of American novelists. Her fiction reflects aspects of her mixed heritage: German through her father, and French and Ojibwa through her mother. She is the author of many novels, the first of which, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the last of which, The Round House, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012. She lives in Minnesota.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
The Plague of Doves is a surprising novel, one that's made up of interconnected short stories with many different narrators that reveal hidden, important connections over several generations. The book will appeal most to those who love to listen to old stories . . . and the old people who tell them.

Pluto, North Dakota forms the center of interactions among Native Americans and the eager dreamers who want to build a better life on the plains. The book moves back to the first expedition where the theme of "we need each other is established." You'll find out that early cooperation soon turned to hatred and violence, after the white settlers decide that a family was murdered by the Native Americans who found the victims. Alliances and attractions rapidly splinter as intermarriage follows the violence.

While many might think that small-town North Dakota has to be pretty boring, Ms. Erdrich chooses to endow her characters with extreme quirks and strong appetites that lead them to places where you've probably never thought about going. Before you are down, you'll find your jaw dropping at least a few times when secrets are revealed and conflicts resolved in unexpected ways.

Ultimately, the book has another broad theme: Can we really know what happened in the past? Ms. Erdrich displays a world in which perspectives are extremely fragmented, people don't tell the truth, stories are embellished, and secrets are jealously guarded.

Look, too, for the theme of whether physical things matter in the long run.

I felt that Ms. Erdrich went too far in being sure that our jaws drop. To me, she wrote a story that seems beyond implausible so that I was often watching her write rather than feeling immersed in the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judy Croome on 18 Nov. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
"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 cruel legacies that we both inherit from our ancestors and ourselves plant for our descendants.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Murphy on 23 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
In the tiny township of Pluto, North Dakota, a family are murdered, all but a baby girl. The ripples caused by this event finally dissipate in the life of Evelina Harp, whose family and neighbours are caught up in the incident in various ways. Pluto is a place of intersecting and complicated relationships and Evelina, part Ojibwe, finds growing up and leaving presents peculiar and almost insurmountable challenges.

If my summary seems oblique, then this reflects the plot of "A Plague of Doves". The story is narrated by Evelina, the granddaughter of Mooshum who suffers a terrible injustice and Judge Coutts, who courts Evelina's aunt and tells the story of the Peace family, whose life is interwoven with Evelina's. The links between the two are so tangential and there are so many discursions into other tales about the history of Pluto and its founders; that it's difficult to maintain a sense of the basic story line and because of this any tension that might be generated by the central incident - the slaying of the family - dissipates early on. This is a pity because Erdrich's writing is playful and richly descriptive, but without the rigour of a plot, tends to ramble in any direction that takes the author's interest. We have anecdotes about violins, legends of the Ojibwe clan, stories about lost settlers and an excursion into the sinister snake cult set up by Billy Peace, all of which add colour, but contribute nothing to the resolution of the story. This telling of side stories can work very well, but only when the plot is strong enough to pull the reader back in and while the writing is strong enough to make "Plague of Doves" worth reading for this alone, the lack of a central story may leave you feeling lost.
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