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Louise Erdrich
Adult Fiction ERDRICH

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Erdrich's bleak latest (after The Plague of Doves) chronicles the collapse of a family. Irene America is a beautiful, introspective woman of Native American ancestry, struggling to finish her dissertation while raising three children. She is married to Gil, a painter whose reputation is built on a series of now iconic portraits of Irene, but who can't break through to the big time, pigeonholed as a Native American painter. Irene's fallen out of love with Gil and discovers that he's been reading her diary, so she begins a new, hidden, diary and uses her original diary as a tool to manipulate Gil. Erdrich deftly alternates between excerpts from these two diaries and third-person narration as she plots the emotional war between Irene and Gil, and Gil's dark side becomes increasingly apparent as Irene, fighting her own alcoholism, struggles to escape. Erdrich ties her various themes together with an intriguing metaphor-riffing on Native American beliefs about portraits as shadows and shadows as souls-while her steady pacing and remarkable insight into the inner lives of children combine to make this a satisfying and compelling novel. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Irene America is a smart, beautiful Minneapolis Ojibwe. Too distracted to finish her doctoral degree, she musters the emotional resources needed to keep two journals. The "Red Diary" is bait, filled with adulterous scenes that Irene uses to push volatile artist husband Gil close enough to the brink that he'll leave her. She unleashes all her rage and frustration in the "Blue Notebook," which she keeps in a bank deposit box. Meanwhile, Gil believes that his obsessive graphic paintings of Irene will somehow lure her back to him. Caught in the crosshairs of their parents' cruel, messy unraveling are 13-year-old Florian, a genius who models his mother's excessive drinking habits; Riel, 11, who believes that only she can hold her disintegrating family together; and sunny little Stoney. VERDICT Erdrich's latest is a brilliant cautionary tale of the shocking havoc willfully destructive, self-centered spouses wreak not only upon themselves but also upon their children. Reading it is like watching a wildfire whose flames are so mesmerizingly beautiful that it's almost easy to ignore the deadly mess left behind. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Irene America
Female
Native American
Beautiful; introspective; uncovers her husband reading her diary; works on her thesis about George Catlin; begins to write lies in her diary; struggles to escape.

Gil
Male
Native American
Artistic reputation built on series of portraits of Irene; pigeonholed as a Native American painter; he reads her diary; his dark side begins to show.
Painter



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