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The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise…

The Master Butchers Singing Club (original 2003; edition 2005)

by Louise Erdrich

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1,811483,860 (4.04)133
Title:The Master Butchers Singing Club
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:Harper Perennial (2005), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Murder, small town butcher shop, german people, loyalty, devotion

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The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich (2003)

  1. 10
    The Turtle Catcher by Nicole Helget (zinschj)
    zinschj: Both are stories of post-World War I immigrants struggling with their new lives in America.
  2. 00
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (ainsleytewce)

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English (46)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Absolutely adored this book - it had been sitting on my shelf for several years. Why did it take me so long? ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
''The Master Butchers Singing Club,'' details the the fortunes of a fictional German immigrant named Fidelis Waldvogel, who settles in Argus, raises four sons with his German wife and eventually marries a local Argus girl of mysterious parentage. Fidelis was a German sniper who watched his best friend die in the last days of the Great War. He returns home to tell his friend's fiancee, Eva, of his death, discovers she is pregnant and proposes marriage. After seeing a slice of American bread Fidelis begins to dream of beginning a new life in America. He sets off with only a suitcase of his father's famous sausages and his family's butcher knives, first by ship and then by train to the West Coast. By the time he has sold all his sausages and exhausted all of his funds on train fare, he finds himself in the town of Argus, North Dakota where he will open a butcher shop and make a home for Eva and his sons. Eva soon becomes best friends with a young woman named Delphine, who has come to work in the butcher shop. The daughter of the local drunk, Delphine is smart, restless and melancholy beyond her years.

Before long a strange series of events affect the characters in this story and what characters they are. This novel probably has one of the most outstanding sets of secondary characters I've ever read. Everyone has a unique identity and unique emotions. They all have stories and secrets. The characters are richly developed and the plot is complex and unpredictable. This story is a series of separate yet simultaneously occurring stories woven into one. The mood is somber and discouraging and filled with human brutality and tragedy as all of the characters attempt to cope with numerous hardships and complicated emotions. I found it to be a great story with amazing characters and story lines, mysterious twists and turns, and a spectrum of human emotion. It was my first Louise Erdrich novel but I can't imagine it being my last.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Erdrich writes beautiful prose. The story is complex and stretches over a 40 year period. There is a twist in the end that would have had more of an effect had the story been tighter. There are too many loose ends......how did the 3 bodies end up in the cellar and how could they not get out? Who is responsible for their deaths. There are hints that a female undertaker was responsible. After murdering the local Sheriff ( out of the blue.......though he at times has been stalking her) she does a runner and that's the end of her..... no explanation! We never really get into the heart of any of the characters and this is a fundamental fault in this book. Beautiful prose will only get you so far. You have to back it up with story line, get to the point, create an empathy with us and the character and not leave numerous loose ends. ( )
  Fergus_Cooper | Nov 26, 2015 |
This book follows a large number of characters: the master butcher Fidelis Waldvogel; his wife, Eva; motherless Delphine who has returned to her upper mid-western hometown and finds herself stuck; her partner, Cyprian, who loves her but prefers men; Delphine’s alcoholic father, who may have killed three people- but he can’t remember; Delphine’s best friend, Clarisse, who is the undertaker and is being sexually harassed by the sheriff; Step-and-a-Half, a junk collecting woman who has secrets; and the Waldvogel’s four sons. The story follows their lives and relationships from 1918 to 1954, entangled with each other in so many ways. One of the things that takes center stage in the book is the predicament of German-Americans as Hitler rose to power and during WW 2. There were divided loyalties, as the Waldvogel family shows. Families were torn apart as they were forced to choose between nation and family, and even fight family member to family member.

I’m of two minds about this book. On the one hand, the prose is just so lovely that reading it was a joy. It’s like looking through a jewel box. But on the other hand, despite the length, a lot of the characters seem to be fairly impenetrable. Delphine, even though she is the main character, we seem to only skim the surface of. Delphine’s best friend has a huge event happen to her, but the effect in the story is negligible. The reveal at the end is momentous, but we have no idea WHY Mazarine’s mother did what she did years before Mazarine was born. Was she unaware of her state? Did she not care? How did Mazarine manage to survive her lack of care? The book is not boring- far from it- but it seems to lack something. In the end, I wanted to know more about these people than the author gave us. ( )
1 vote dark_phoenix54 | Sep 29, 2015 |
Fidelis Waldvogel manages to survive the horrors of World War I, then returns to his German village and marries Eva – the pregnant widow of his best friend who was killed in action. The newly married couple set out for America and end up in Argus, North Dakota, where Fidelis opens his butcher business.

Delphine Watzka returns home to Argus, North Dakota with her boyfriend, Cyprian after years of performing as a traveling act. There she discovers her alcoholic father and the bodies of a man, woman and child in his basement.

The lives of these two characters merge when Delphine and Eva meet. The two forge an instant friendship and become inseparable.

Louise Erdrich’s rich novel about a German immigrant and his family is tender, thoughtful, funny, and deeply emotional. As with all Erdrich novels, there are many sharply developed, often quirky, characters. Erdrich never rushes the tempo of her story, carefully setting her scenes and building the relationships between the characters.

Fidelis is a complex man with simple needs. Delphine mourns the mother she has never known and longs for a deeper relationship with a man. Both characters take center stage without diminishing the impact of the other, more secondary characters.

This book is, at its heart, a family saga with a bit of a mystery at its center. Erdrich is exceptionally talented and able to make all the pieces fit, integrating the characters into the community they inhabit and providing a deep understanding of life in twentieth century, small town America.

I have yet to read an Erdrich novel I have not loved and The Master Butcher’s Singing Club is no exception. Erdrich writes with a mix of poignancy and humor, meticulous detail, and vivid imagery. I did not want this book to ever end.

Readers who love historical family sagas and literary novels will embrace this book.

Highly recommended. ( )
  writestuff | May 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Amazon.com Review
Louise Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club is a powerfully told story of love, death, redemption, and resurrection. After German soldier Fidelis Waldvogel returns home from World War I to marry his best friend's pregnant widow, he packs up his father's butcher knives and sets sail for America. ....
added by eigram | editAmazon.com, Gisele Toueg (Jul 24, 2009)
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To my father, who sang to me.
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Fidelis walked home from the great war in twelve days and slept thirty-eight hours once he crawled into his childhood bed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060837055, Paperback)

Louise Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club is a powerfully told story of love, death, redemption, and resurrection. After German soldier Fidelis Waldvogel returns home from World War I to marry his best friend's pregnant widow, he packs up his father's butcher knives and sets sail for America. He settles in Argus, North Dakota, where he sets up a meat shop with his wife Eva, who quickly befriends the struggling yet resourceful Delphine Watzka. Delphine, who runs a vaudeville show with her balancing partner Cyprian Lazarre, has returned home to Argus to care for her alcoholic father. While most of this emotionally rich novel focuses on the changing landscape of small-town life as seen through Delphine and Fidelis's eyes, Erdrich does a masterful job of illuminating hidden dramas through her secondary characters. Erdrich's portrayal of these various townsfolk, including members of the Master Butchers Singing Club, truly shows off her storytelling talent. Her ability to infuse each character with a distinct and multifaceted personality makes this novel an intimate and thought-provoking adventure. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:02 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"What happens when a trained killer discovers, in the aftermath of war, that his true vocation is love? Having survived the killing fields of World War I, Fidelis Waldvogel returns home to his quiet German village and marries the pregnant widow of his best friend who was killed in action." "With a suitcase full of sausages and a master butcher's precious set of knives, Fidelis sets out for America, getting as far as Argus, North Dakota, where he settles. Over the years he works hard, building a business, a home for his family - which now includes Eva and four sons - and a singing club consisting of the best voices in town. The group embraces everyone, from the local banker to the town drunk, the sheriff, the other butcher in Argus, and an elusive drifter, part Ojibwe, part French, whose balancing act is a wonder to behold." "What happens when the Old World meets the New - in the person of Delphine Watzka, a daughter of Argus whose origins are a mystery even to her - turns out to be one of the great adventures of Fidelis's life. Delphine meets Eva and is enchanted; she meets Fidelis, and the ground trembles. These momentous encounters will determine the course of Delphine's life, and the trajectory of this novel by Louise Erdrich."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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