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The Painted Drum (2005)

by Louise Erdrich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Love Medicine (6)

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1,2474815,268 (3.69)98
When Faye Travers is called upon to appraise the estate of a family in her small New Hampshire town, she isn't surprised to discover a forgotten cache of valuable Native American artifacts. However, she stops dead in her tracks when she finds a rare drum-a powerful yet delicate object, made from a massive moose skin stretched across a hollow of cedar, ornamented with symbols and dressed in beads of brass and red tassels-for without touching the instrument she hears it sound. From Faye's discovery, we trace the drum's passage both backward and forward in time and discover how it changes the lives of those whose paths it crosses.… (more)
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» See also 98 mentions

English (45)  French (3)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Lives can be broken in seconds or over years and healing is hard and rare. The impulsive decision to steal a ceremonial drum from the uncatalogued estate of a the descendants of a former Indian Agent, connects stories in past and present tense and takes the reader through the passages of several lives and generations and leaves them flowing forward. ( )
  quondame | Oct 10, 2023 |
Erdrich is excellent, so clear and so subtle. I have a hard time seeing her books without looking at the whole, even though I did enjoy some volumes more than others; because they each give a new perspective on pieces of the others. It's such a great way to remind me that there's always more I don't know. This part of the story is a reflection on loss and healing, without the ponderousness that usually implies.
( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
Book on CD narrated by Anna Fields.
3.5***

Faye Travers and her mother run an antiques business in their New Hampshire town. When Faye is asked to appraise an estate, she discovers a that the man who died is descended from an Indian agent who worked on the Ojibwe reservation that is home to Faye’s mother’s family. Among the artifacts in the attic is a rare drum. From this point the story moves back and forth, in time and location, as we learn the history – and future – of this particular drum.

This isn’t Erdrich’s best work. It’s slow to start and I wasn’t all that interested in Faye’s current love life. In part two, we have an abrupt jump to the reservation and Bernard Shawano takes up the story, relating how his grandfather came to fashion the drum, and its significance to the family. I found this section, and part three, much more compelling, but I had to wonder what happened to Faye and why Erdrich had just abandoned her storyline. Eventually the reader gets all the pieces of the puzzle and the connection between the storylines becomes clear. Still, I think I would have preferred the book if Erdrich had just focused on the drum’s origin and meaning to the Shawano family, and left Faye out of it.

Anna Fields does a fine job of narrating the audiobook. She sets a good pace and has the skill as a voice artist to differentiate the many characters. ( )
  BookConcierge | May 20, 2023 |
As often happens with Erdrich's novels, I got to the end but do not consider myself "finished" with the book. As the title tells us, this one is about a ceremonial drum and its history over several generations. When two New England estate liquidators with vague tribal connections return the drum to its Anishinaabe family on the reservation, a story emerges full of love, betrayal, revenge and redemption. I almost always go back to re-read earlier sections of Erdrich's novels once I reach the last page (and sometimes sooner), as beginning-middle-end does not really apply to her structure. Not my favorite of her work so far, as the modern framework didn't quite click, but a solid entry in the Love Medicine cycle, and essential in that it reveals Fleur Pillager's origin. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Mar 25, 2023 |
Faye Travers and her mother, Elsie, have an estate business in New Hampshire, where they are called in to help families value, sell and/or dispose of possessions after the death of a loved one. When in the course of her work Faye comes across an Ojibwe drum, its impact is visceral and she feels compelled to find out more about it. They learn the drum was sold many years ago to a man who moved east, and the two women travel to the midwest to return it to its original owner and, hopefully, learn more about its origins.

This novel begins and ends with Faye in New Hampshire, but her story “bookends” that of the drum. And with that story, readers find themselves back in familiar Love Medicine territory. The Painted Drum is considered the final book in that series, and the events leading up to the making of the drum finally reveal more about the mysterious Fleur Pillager. In the present day, the drum calls to someone in a way that ultimately saves their life. And somehow (although this link was less clear to me), Faye comes to terms with a significant loss in her own past, and finds a new path.

I greatly enjoyed returning to Louise Erdrich’s world, and was equally caught up in Faye’s life despite the difference in setting and circumstances. Although I’ve finished the Love Medicine series, this will not be my last Erdrich novel. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Oct 30, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erdrich, Louiseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaNarratorsecondary 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.
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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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When Faye Travers is called upon to appraise the estate of a family in her small New Hampshire town, she isn't surprised to discover a forgotten cache of valuable Native American artifacts. However, she stops dead in her tracks when she finds a rare drum-a powerful yet delicate object, made from a massive moose skin stretched across a hollow of cedar, ornamented with symbols and dressed in beads of brass and red tassels-for without touching the instrument she hears it sound. From Faye's discovery, we trace the drum's passage both backward and forward in time and discover how it changes the lives of those whose paths it crosses.

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