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The Antelope Wife

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,188 ratings  ·  182 reviews
One of America's most celebrated authors offers a powerful story suffused with a Native American sense of magic. Originally an important hunting ground for the Ojibway, the city of Minneapolis draws from nearby reservations many Native people, people who infuse the city with a strong and ongoing Native presence as well as a potent indigenous past. This story brings to life ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1998 by Flamingo (first published 1998)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
27th out of 526 books — 496 voters
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl SealThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieGreen Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
Best Native American/First Nations Fiction
12th out of 349 books — 226 voters

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Community Reviews

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Carl Brush
It’s human nature to want people to like what you like, but when they resist, pointing to reasons they should like it is like explaining a joke. No laughing, no liking. Such it is with my friend and Louise Erdrich. I’m a HUGE fan of Louise. I consider her among the top five living writers in the country, perhaps the top ten in the world. If you took the trouble, as few do, to scroll through the archives of, you’d see how highly I regard her work and why. Yet, I hadn’t read the ...more
Beautiful. At times, it takes me a while to slow down enough as a reader to appreciate Erdrich - when I do, it is always rewarding. I keep reading her novels in snatches, here and there, and because they are so entwined, I know there is a lot I am probably missing. I would like to eventually reread everything of hers I've ever picked up, in succession.
I hoped that I would like this book, but it was too fragmented, disjointed. It had great potential to be a reflective and philosophical journey, but ultimately the points didn't connect... the kidnapped antelope-woman Sweetheart Calico was supposed to be the link that connected all the events and characters of the book, but it just didn't hold water. I didn't have a single emotional connection with the story or characters during any point of the book.

Considering the treading into the spiritual
Louise Erdrich's works seem woven with textures of destinies, families, and histories. This book is no exception.

Frequently painful to read because of the emotional damage inherited by and inflicted by the characters in this tale, this book is nonetheless a rewarding experience because of the human redemption achieved by a few key members of this tangled family web.

The melodic and mystical prose guides the reader through worlds of tragedy, comedy, damnation, and salvation. Although not religous,

Review of the earlier edition is located Here


This second, short review of The Antelope Wife is written because this Revised Edition is almost a different book from the first.

And as superb a book as the original edition is.....this one is better.

It is true with all of Louise Erdrich books that the story is illuminated by the history of the "fictional" Ojibwe(Anishinaabe) Reservation in No
I haven't read Louise Erdrich in years, but this book reminded me why she was once one of my favorite authors. It's difficult to describe her books--and they aren't for everybody--but this one reads like a vivid dream. Reality and folklore intermingle and time is not-linear, so it is often difficult to know if you are in the past or present. There is not necessarily a plot, but the book evokes a mood and captures all those feelings we deal with as humans. Her prose is so lyrical that it is nearl ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
At the beginning, I thought this not up to my usual expectation of Erdrich. Somewhere she reached into my soul and it became quite extraordinary. I kept thinking "this is magical realism, but I don't like magical realism." It is so much more. Many of her people have more than the usual 5 senses. It isn't easy to explain. They are of the earth, completely of it, and know what lies within and beyond it. This sounds unreal, but it is not.

Having said that, it is important to recognize they are, in
So many layers to this book. Multiple narrators. Family stories. Legends. And, all come together like a puzzle in the end. Meanwhile, the women are FEROCIOUS. Bad Ass. True Free Spirits. Damn.

Louise Erdrich, you got skillz.
a floating, meandering dream of a tale that has beautiful moments, but ultimately fails to mesh together.

many members of a loosely connected group of ojibwa families meet, love, hate, and cross paths over the generations in the minneapolis area. some of these people are seers, who have to dream the names of the next generation; others are ordinary bakers who nourish this one. things that would be played for shock value (or at least dramatic climax) in a more mundane author's hands - a kidnapped
After being blown away by the first book I read of Louise Erdrich's (The Round House), I was pretty disappointed in this one. There were parts that I really liked, but then those parts were over too quickly. I didn't like how Erdrich flipped back and forth between multiple characters' POV—sometimes this can work, but in this case each of those sections were too brief to really get a feel for their personalities. I also felt that the overall themes were either too basic that I was looking for som ...more
Roxanne Richardson
As with many of Louise Erdrich's stories, it is helpful, if not imperative, to draw yourself a little diagram of familial lineages and character inter-relationships from the get-go, as these can be frustratingly complex. With this one, by chapter 3, my post-it of lines, arrows, circles and U-turns was looking pretty Jackson Pollock-y. That's how intricately she's knit together several generations of two separate family trees. I grew confused. So I decided to scrap that effort, and just read - ju ...more
Hmmm, this book is different for a few reasons. It starts by abstractly describing a world divided by whites and Native Americans, and then brings them together. Generations pass by in a chapter. It is actually quite difficult to track who is who and how everyone is related. As with many stories of Native Americans, the creative license afforded by the mythology is often employed. Then the book lands on Cali, a girl who feels strong connections to her mysterious ancestry and tries to find her pl ...more
I've been working through Erdrich's oeuvre for the last year or two, and she has turned into a go-to author for me. I don't know if any of her books can match the mastery of The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse in my eyes. But she continually impresses me.

The Antelope Wife follows two particular Ojibwe families, the Roys and the Shawanos. The novel particularly plays with ideas of naming, bead-work, fidelity, parenthood, and surviving tragedy. As usual, point of view shifts from c
Sebastian Kings
The story kind of grabs you pulls you in.

As I am so impressed with the natural voice and power to tell a story. I rate all stars for just about anything from this author.
With words burst not only a wonderful story but a lifestyle that other wise might remain lost like the buffalo or the real true nature and tragedies of the first people of this great land we stole.
Jonathan Forisha
What a curious novel. It's written in a very simple prose, though sometimes words are omitted to almost give it a more down-to-earth feel. The beginning is a bit chaotic since we're introduced to so many characters all in a row, and while we hop around the different generations of this family, we gradually get to know them.

Once we know the characters, however, things fall into place very well. The mysterious grandmothers, the tragic story of Richard, and some of the underlying mythology of the f
This is a fabulous book, different in style from Erdrich's previous novels, and wonderfully playful. It would be easy to peg this as magical realism, but it's really not - rather, it's rooted in the Ojibwe world, where spirits and animals and places have agency as much as humans do. (There's a chapter, at one point, written by a dog, and oh my goodness, it's one of the best things I have ever read.)

There's a depth to this book that's missing from Love Medicine, and while the characters struggle
Louise Erdrich writes the most passionate and poetic prose i've ever read...

Most of Erdrich's novels that i've read so far swept me off my feet because of her masterful storytelling, this true weaving and weaving (though she might prefer beading ;)) of story-lines, and because of her descriptions of nature, landscapes, thoughts, emotions & sensations that are both so very poetic and precise. The centrality of passion in the lifes of her beautifully vulnerable, flawed or awe-inspiring charact
I needed a break from all the serious stuff I have been reading lately so I picked this up last night. I was hoping good things for this one. I had tried reading Louise Erdrich before and I just couldn't get into her stories, with the exception of one I picked up years ago.

The Antelope Wife caught my attention from the first page, with the story of the twins. It weaves myth and everyday life into a story that spans nearly 100 years, beginning with a man named Scanton Roy. The consequences of his
Gail Richmond
As with all of Louise Erdrich's novels, fascinating and compelling reading. A mix of magical realism, historical events, and family ties tells an Ojibwe family's story through multiple generations. Set primarily in Montana and in and around Minneapolis and places between, the functions of emotions--love, regret, guilt, greed, and even slight tints of faith---and family propel the novel through the years. In the late 19th century the blue-coated troops come and obliterate a Native American villag ...more
Some great imagery in this story; the mythic heritage of the Ojibwe or Anishnanabe, as they prefer to be called. I liked some of it but overall was disappointed in the loose weave. If this were beadwork, it would fall apart too easily... I wanted a little more woof to the weft, a bit more heft to the book. Still, an interesting addition to her collection of native tales.
Some beautiful writing in here, although unless you're paying attention you will definitely miss things. The cast of characters is large, and it is difficult to keep track of all of them, especially when the narration skips between generations at will, without signposting or explicit time shifts. This book probably bears another read.
The image of the four women walking though the fair grounds--as mystical and light as antelope--will stay with me a long time. Where are the magical blue beads? The wife stays silent and droops into alcoholism because she can't find her way out of the city. She will not speak because of the blue beads. Her animal spirit is almost destroyed before her husband lets her go. She stumbles and limps away from him, never looking back. Erdrich draws the soul of women like no other author. Her prose is a ...more
I loved this novel which is both magical and realistic. It is the first time I've read anything from Louise Erdrich. I really appreciate her style, they way she combines myth and reality. A very thought provoking read! I am looking forward to reading more books from her.
This seems more like a series of short stories than a novel. I got confused trying to figure out who was related to whom, and still can't figure out how Augustus Roy was the grandson, not the son, of Scranton Roy. I'm probably the only person who would have liked to see a family tree for this book.

The episode with the silver paper wedding plates is among the best writing I have read recently. I loved it.

Erdrich is a great writer, but I prefer some of the voices in this more than others. And I
I'm still thinking about this book, but I'm not sure what to say about it. It is written as a series of interrelated stories about a group of interrelated families over the course of several generations. It feels like reading poetry, where meanings and feelings are condensed into short vignettes. The stories are often sad, but the passion and love that some of the characters have for each other, despite what they've done, shines through. I would say that, for me, it was more interesting than enj ...more
Jesse Zellmer
I read Love Medicine a little while ago for another class about Native American culture and literature and I've gotten around to this one for a new class. The problem I've found with assigning Louise Erdrich novels is that her characters, themes and magical realism are too complex to the point of being inaccessable to busy students like myself, and the end result ends up being me being weirded out by trippy imagery and men breastfeeding without more discussion. That being said, the novel might b ...more
Marie Michaels
Gorgeous magical realism at its dreamy best, this story is at the same time rooted in the everyday lives of its characters. Erdrich does a wonderful job of navigating the balance of magical realism: taking me to place I've never been, showing magic hiding in the real world, and grounding it all in emotions and experiences I can relate to. Erdrich sketches myth, life and war on the Great Plains over a century ago, Ojibway culture, and even day to day life at a bakery all with equal depth and prec ...more
Louise Erdrich is a novelist of Ojibwa descent who magically, seamlessly weaves together white and native culture in her works, as they are marked in her skin, mind, and spirit. When we part their leaves, her books let us peer into the branches of a vast family tree that precariously balances the two major cultures of her heritage, anachronistically telling the tales of folks whose ultimate truth is repeated over and over, generation to generation, though the land changes around them, and their ...more
Stella Atrium
Louise Erdrich has written a series of novels about a Native American extended family trapped in poverty and fear on the reservation and in Minneapolis (called Apple Town due to the vowel sounds). In The Antelope Wife, revolving narrators bead together events apparently to bind patterns over generations – fates of twins, lost babies, lustful wives. Since the level of diction of each narrator is identical with lazy grammar, interjected native words, and self-centered vision, the use of he-she-the ...more
When I was a senior (? - I think) in college, I took four english courses in one semester. Bad plan, as I was never able to catch up on all of the reading. My Native American Literature class was particularly demanding, with a record 20 books read (supposedly) over the course of the semester. There was simply no way I could keep up. I kept some of the ones that looked interesting that I never got a chance to read, and this was one of them.

It's hard to really summarize the plot of this novel. It
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Endicott Mythic F...: The Antelope Wife - Discussion 6 21 Oct 22, 2010 05:04PM  
  • Godmother Night
  • Thraxas (Thraxas, #1-2)
  • Glimpses
  • The Facts of Life
  • The Grass Dancer
  • Nifft the Lean
  • Doctor Rat
  • Only Begotten Daughter
  • Galveston (Resurrection Man, #3)
  • The Shadow Year
  • The Dragon Waiting
  • Soldier of Sidon
  • Watchtower (Chronicles of Tornor, #1)
  • Power
  • Spirits of the Ordinary: A Tale of Casas Grandes
  • Our Lady Of Darkness
  • Storyteller
  • The Crown of Columbus
Karen Louise Erdrich is a American author of novels, poetry, and children's books. Her father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American. She is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe nation (also known as Chippewa). She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renais ...more
More about Louise Erdrich...
The Round House The Master Butchers Singing Club Love Medicine The Beet Queen Tracks

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“ We have these earthly bodies. We don't know what they want. Half the time, we pretend they are under our mental thumb, but that is the illusion of the healthy and the protected. Of sedate lovers. For the body has emotions it conceives and carries through without concern for anyone or anything else. Love is one of those, I guess. Going back to something very old knit into the brain as we were growing. Hopeless. Scorching. Ordinary. ” 32 likes
“All of our actions have in their doing the seed of their undoing. ... That in her creation of her children there should be the unspeakable promise of their death, for by their birth she had created mortal beings.” 14 likes
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