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The Crown of Columbus

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,379 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews

In their only fully collaborative literary work, Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich have written a gripping novel of history, suspense, recovery, and new beginnings. The Crown of Columbus chronicles the adventures of a pair of mismatched loversVivian Twostar, a divorced, pregnant anthropologist, and Roger Williams, a consummate academic, epic poet, and bewildered father of

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Hardcover, 382 pages
Published May 1st 1991 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,959)
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Alana
The Crown of Columbus was written by Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris, a husband and wife team of authors with Native American roots... sort of... well, more on that later. Both Erdrich and Dorris are individually noted for their own accomplishments (Erdrich mostly for her novels, Dorris for his poetry as well as his nonfiction activism), but they frequently collaborated. They wrote together under the pseudonym Milou North, though The Crown of Columbus is the only novel where they publish using ...more
Christian
May 12, 2009 Christian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the worst books I've ever read. It's basically a paean of love between the two authors who have put themselves into a fictional story. So why would they make themselves do stupid things? The overly pregnant woman locks herself in a public library, and the man falls into a cove and keeps himself sane by chanting a long and terrible poem. If I were going to write myself into a story, I hope I'd be kicking a little more ass than this. While I did not hurl this book across the room in ...more
Kathleen Messmer
May 12, 2015 Kathleen Messmer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is arguably one of the worst books I've ever read. Granted, I'm reviewing it based on only the first half. I could not bring myself to go any further. That said, neither of the protagonists is even remotely likeable, the grandmother is an intolerable bitch and the teenage son is extraordinarily surly for no apparent reason other than he's a teenager. A book has to be pretty awful for me to discard it without finishing and this one definitely was. I do NOT recommend this book to anyone. It's ...more
Kristen Suagee-beauduy
May 20, 2015 Kristen Suagee-beauduy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-lit
This would be an awesome text to study in a decolonization-based literature class!

My favorite paragraph may just be the one where the teenage son comes to terms with his grandmother's pedagogy: "Nothing, not even an event that had taken place before she was born, was fixed in it's interpretation. Truth was all in the story, in the way it was told and in who was doing the telling. It could change in a minute or remain the same forever. A truth lasted only until a better one came along and replac
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Eric_W
Mar 14, 2009 Eric_W rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Sin as a concept has nothing to do with right or wrong. It has to do with obedience. You have to submit to the transcendent authority, God, the church, whatever. Sin is deviance." Not the kind of statement one normally finds in a mystery story. This is from The Crown of Columbus by Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich, both esteemed novelists (or so I'm told). [The tragic story of Michael Dorris's suicide after being accused of child abuse by Louise Erdrich in their bitter divorce is awful. see ht ...more
Jim
I picked this book up long ago, but didn't like the start (I guess) and put it aside, only to try again now. I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the tale, told as these authors's books often are, through several voices (often members of the same family). At least this one doesn't follow the reverse timeline pattern. This one starts as a kind of romance novel: two older academics (one Native American mix and the other New England blueblood) who end up having a child out of wedlock, but struggle to ...more
Marvin
Oct 30, 2009 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has been panned by reviewers, but I enjoyed it. It's an interesting novel with an academic setting--a female Native American Studies professor falls in love with a poet; both are engaged in contrasting efforts to reconstruct Christopher Columbus's "discovery" of American for the quincentennial. She discovers new evidence, which leads to adventure & near disaster. For me, it was, in some ways, a less intellectual version of A. S. Byatt's Possession. But it was also more personal. The cou ...more
Dena
Sep 18, 2015 Dena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was okay. I might be missing something big but I totally don't get the ending. The poem was arduous and seemed misplaced in the book. For that matter, so was the odd ending, seems like cerebral things to be shoved in where they didn't belong. had it been wrapped up better and quicker I might have said it was interesting and entertaining but it was shooting for something else and failed in both. Oh well. It wasn't a complete loss but it could have been better.
Meg
Feb 21, 2014 Meg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, fiction
3.5 stars. I enjoyed this book a lot but felt it had some flaws. While Vivian felt like a 3-dimensional person, Roger felt like a caricature of a ridiculous WASP academic. He did eventually develop more depth, but I didn't find him believable for the first half of the book. Also, the book was too long - a little editing would have improved it. That said, I liked the way the mystery was resolved in the end. And I liked reading a book with a baby, where the baby didn't just act like a baby when it ...more
Kristel
I had a hard time getting into this book at first. However it grew one and I enjoyed the historical as well as the human relationship aspects as well. Glad I read it!
Kathy  Petersen
Having read some nonfiction on the Columbus era, I went back to a book I'd read quite some time ago ... and, it turns out, didn't remember very well! Perhaps I better appreciated The Crown of Columbus because of my recent acquaintance with factual [whatever that may mean] inquiry.

It's a bit fantastic, especially with Vivian on the boat and Roger trapped (any more would qualify as spoilers). But I admired the different voices the authors use and the unwinding of the complicated and fascinating j
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Nancy
Nov 09, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago yet still remember how much I enjoyed reading it.
Hope
Sep 04, 2008 Hope rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the ONLY thing I have ever read by Louise Erdrich that I didn't absolutely love (and yes, I have read almost everything she has written.) So far below her usual standards on all counts that I never would have believed she had written it if her name wasn't there on the cover. Her late ex-husband Michael Dorris was a fine writer, too. I can't imagine what they were thinking. It's a potboiler, plain and simple. They must have had a bunch of bills to pay or something. Extremely disappointing ...more
Dawn Lamm
Not so good!
Amy
Oct 24, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Louise Erdrich's writing is pure poetry. I've said it before, and I'll say it every time I read something of hers. This is a bit different since it was a collaboration with Michael Dorris, but it meldled togethery beautifully, and the story had a lot of mystery and suspense. I've been reading books with the theme of finding a lost diary/artifact/legendary vampire, so it was interesting to keep up the trend.
Katie
This was my pick to kick-start summer reading. I love Louise Erdrich and am working my way through her novels. This one is markedly different from the rest as it is much lighter, airing on the side of an adventure mystery. The notable difference is likely a direct result of her collaboration with her husband Michael Dorris. It was an entertaining read. I'd recommend it, especial for a beachy vacation.
Joyce
Dec 07, 2009 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a Louise Erdrich fan, and I enjoy her way with words. This book does not disappoint in that regard, but the story requires a little too much suspension of disbelief for me. While I can believe that a copy of Columbus' diary survived somewhere, I just can't believe Jesus' crown of thorns survived and was brought to the New World by Columbus.
Venessa
Jan 03, 2008 Venessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Husband and wife team novel, not as good as Erdrich's solo works, but still very intelligent yet filled with humor, and plenty of fact filling out and defining the fiction. More adventuresome than other works by either author, and a giant mystery, although it could never be classified as a mystery. A great work of literary fiction.
Lynn
Jul 20, 2011 Lynn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Do not bother with this book. I enjoyed _The Master Butcher's Singing Club_ by Erdrich, and I am fascinated by Christopher Columbus and his legacy. But even though I was the perfect candidate for this book, I found it quite painful, especially at the end. I believe it failed on every level.
Dee
Nov 29, 2010 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an intriguing story about Christopher Columbus written from a Native-American point of view. It was a mystery and a love story with a lot of history thrown in. And, it made me look at Columbus in a whole new light, regarding his origins and his relationship with the sovereigns of Spain.
Lucia
I loved Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris. I like quite a lot The Beet Queen, Love Medicine, etc by Louise Erdrich. So the collaboration should be great, right? Not so much. More like the worst of both writers has emerged. Not a horrible book, but a major disappointment to me.
emily
Nov 20, 2009 emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
the beginning, with louise and michael (oops, vivian and roger!) swanning and swooning around dartmouth is fine, albeit wanky, but it goes downhill the moment erdrich and dorris said to themselves, "screw this, let's write an adventure novel instead!"

more after the book club discussion.
Abigail (42stitches)
The cover art is...wrong. Who gets paid to do that stuff anyway? As much as I love Louse Erdrich, this book was not that great. Not terrible, and many ways funny, but kind of mediocre otherwise. The shark scene really turned me off for some reason. The pacing was good, though.
Sharon
Dec 30, 2009 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clever plot- a college professor thinks she might have discovered Columbus' lost diary. Told in segments by different characters, all with distinct voices and vivid personalities. Chock full of suspense, romance, family dynamics, and more, this book was a real surprise.
Kristi
A good book, one that kept me reading to discover what would happen next. A nice mystery. I didn't like the personality of the male character in this book. Upon further reading about the authors, I believe that character may have been modeled on its author Dorris.
Lisbeth Solberg
This was co-written with Louise Erdrich, if I remember correctly. At any rate, that chapters alternate narrative voices. It did not measure up to either of their best work; it seemed to me to be written with a movie contract in mind (and a second-rate movie at that).
Donna
Oct 07, 2012 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With Columbus Day coming I have been thinking about this book that I read many years ago. It is the "other" story of Columbus the one from the Native peoples perspective. Check it out it will change the way you think about what we were taught in school
Rae
May 18, 2008 Rae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-fiction
Two estranged professors, both intrigued by Christopher Columbus, discover his diary...which could lead to a priceless treasure. As they investigate Columbus and search for answers, they resolve many of their own differences as well.
Tom
Aug 26, 2009 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When an anthropoligist finds what appears to be an authentic diary of Christopher Columbus, she travels to the Caribbean to discover the treasure - maybe - that the diary hints at.
Monica
May 21, 2013 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confession: I skimmed some of it. At times it was rather unbelievable and annoying, but I liked it overall. Definitely not the best work by Dorris or Erdrich, but enjoyable.
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Michael Dorris was a novelist, short story writer, nonfiction writer, and author of books for children

The first member of his family to attend college, Dorris graduated from Georgetown with honors in English and received his graduate degree in anthropology from Yale. Dorris worked as a professor of English and anthropology at Dartmouth College.

Dorris was part-Native American through the lineage o
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