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The Painted Drum: A Novel by Louise Erdrich

The Painted Drum: A Novel (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Louise Erdrich

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Title:The Painted Drum: A Novel
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:HarperCollins (2005), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich (2005)




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English (26)  French (2)  All languages (28)
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The opening chapters center on Faye Travers, a modern woman whose grandmother was Ojibwe, and who with her mother Elsie owns an estate sale business. Faye is hired by the family of a former Indian agent whose estate is filled with Indian artifacts including a decorated drum which Faye uncharacteristically steals. Eventually Faye and Elsie decide to return the drum to a family of Ojibwe who Elsie remembers.

The real story then begins to unfold. The drum has touched several generations of Ojibwe since its creation by Bernard's grandfather who made it out of sorrow for the loss of his wife who left him for another man and the resulting death of his daughter. The story doesn't follow a straight line but wanders through the lives of the unfaithful wife, the older son, and most poignantly, the lives of three small children left by their mother in the cold and without food.

Erdrich's writing is not always easy to read; the convoluted story line of the drum is at times difficult to follow because Erdrich is mostly telling it backwards. The drum's effect on the lives of the characters is sometimes a bit of a stretch as Indian lore and beliefs intertwine with the realities of life. The book is the sharpest and most effective during the story of Shawnee, the nine-year old girl who walks her younger sister and brother to safety following a tragic house fire. The book is the least effective during the portions dealing with Faye and her relationship to a lover and her own feelings of inadequacy and guilt. I wish Erdich would concentrate more on stories and characters and less on what I call the "abstract." In short, Erdich is a great story teller and a master at phrasing. It's when she gets into the first-person narrative with rambling thoughts that she sometimes loses me and there is a bit too much of that - therefore a four, but still certainly well worth the effort it takes to read. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 16, 2013 |
This story is about several generations of Ojibwe Indians and is an interesting psychological study of how parents’ problems can get passed on to their children and their children and their children. I didn’t so much buy the mystical allusions about the drum itself. Some terribly sad and horrifying things happen to children in this story. I wanted to love this book as I generally love fiction and non-fiction books about Native Americans. But I had a few problems with the fairy tale style of the book. I would like to read some of Louise Erdrich’s other books about Ojibwe Indians, as I’ve heard many of them are rated higher by many readers. ( )
1 vote Lisa2013 | Apr 19, 2013 |
Listened to audio version, beautifully read by Anna Fields. The characters and story were highly engrossing. I just felt that the conclusion needed a bit more development or closure. ( )
  robinamelia | Jan 3, 2013 |
Not her best work. ( )
  cherybear | Jan 22, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erdrich, Louiseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Leaving the child cemetery with its plain hand-lettered sign and stones carved into the weathered shapes of lambs and angels, I am lost in my thoughts and pause too long where the cemetery road meets the two-lane highway.
You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060515112, Paperback)

While appraising the estate of a New Hampshire family descended from a North Dakota Indian agent, Faye Travers is startled to discover a rare moose skin and cedar drum fashioned long ago by an Ojibwe artisan. And so begins an illuminating journey both backward and forward in time, following the strange passage of a powerful yet delicate instrument, and revealing the extraordinary lives it has touched and defined.

Compelling and unforgettable, Louise Erdrich's Painted Drum explores the often fraught relationship between mothers and daughters, the strength of family, and the intricate rhythms of grief with all the grace, wit, and startling beauty that characterizes this acclaimed author's finest work.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:27 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Discovering a cache of valuable Native American artifacts while appraising an estate in New Hampshire, Faye Travers investigates the history of a ceremonial drum, which possesses spiritual powers and changes the lives of people who encounter it.

(summary from another edition)

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