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The Antelope Wife: A Novel

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,481 Ratings  ·  215 Reviews
“A fiercely imagined tale of love and loss, a story that manages to transform tragedy into comic redemption, sorrow into heroic survival.”
New York Times

“[A] beguiling family saga….A captivating jigsaw puzzle of longing and loss whose pieces form an unforgettable image of contemporary Native American life.”

A New York Times bestselling author, a Pulitzer Prize final
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carl R.
May 08, 2012 Carl R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2016 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strange-magic
The Antelope Wife combines Native mysticism and legend with the multi-generational stories of the Roy and Shawano families. Linked by one woman, she will bring their destinies full circle.

Written in lyrical prose and infused with haunting imagery, the story alternates between grief and acceptance, with a rare glimpse of joy.

I only started to enjoy the book about halfway through. The characters and stories before that come and go quickly and with little ceremony, which made it hard to figure out
Dec 26, 2013 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 20, 2014 Michele rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Since this book qualifies for so many squares in the 2015 /r/fantasy bingo challenge and won the World Fantasy Award in 1999, I snapped it up.

From the same author, I'd previously read half of The Plague of Doves, which is also about the interconnected lives of several generations on a reservation, and abandoned it despite liking the writing. This time I continued to enjoy the writing, but got sucked into the story as well. I had to do a few double-takes where the wording was odd because it was
Mar 05, 2009 Mosca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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,
Jun 17, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
DNF @ 7%

If you read the goodreads description of this book, it reveals nothing about why I absolutely cannot go farther than 7%. See, this is why I don't understand why books don't have the same content warnings as video games or movies. There's no reason why books/text are less graphic than visual mediums when you've experienced some kind of trauma or need to stay away from certain things.

Book content warnings (for as far as I got; there's possibly more):
- rape
- kidnapping
- emotional abuse

Andy Miller
This novel shares some aspects of Erdrich's "Love Medicine" which is one of my top ten novels of all time. The chapters alternate perspectives from different characters, the chapters span several generations and intertwine the different character's lives. But perhaps excessive dabbling in "magical realism" that was not as prevalent in Love Medicine, detracted from character development and plot.

The novel starts with the Plains Indians wars when a soldier participates in a massacre of woman and c
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
Dec 03, 2014 Mosca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

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
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
May 23, 2016 Marygrace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like something you might be assigned in a college literature class. It blends myth, dark humor, occasionally over-the-top symbolism, and human fears and failings. It feels slow, plodding at first and hard for me to get into. But by the end, it had built up like a massive, gruesomely beautiful painting. The book jumps around in time and perspective, confusing you, then drawing you in further, then filling in some blanks and leaving others tantalizingly unwritten.

I should note tha
Sep 18, 2014 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Fantasy Literature
In 1999, Louise Erdrich’s book The Antelope Wife won the World Fantasy Award. Erdrich is not a genre writer; she is firmly planted in literary territory, even if she and her husband did write romance novels under a pseudonym to pay the bills early in their marriage. The Antelope Wife is not a fantasy book. It is a beautiful, dark, sad, funny story, filled with magic and mythology, weaving Plains Indian and Ojibwa myths into a modern-day tale about a large and complicated family in 1990s Minnesot ...more
Aug 15, 2009 R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 19, 2011 Tucker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jonathan Forisha
Nov 08, 2010 Jonathan Forisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2015 Bernadette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kristen Suagee-beauduy
Sep 27, 2015 Kristen Suagee-beauduy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-lit
Great "magical realism." Erdrich bases her title character on an old Anishinaabe literary figure from the oral tradition and experiments beautifully with lyrical prose that illuminates what only she could imagine to be the internal workings of an antelope who's been kidnapped by a man who fell in love with her human iteration at a powwow: "A tiny boat with a windup rubber-band propeller--that's what the first sensations of her freedom are like. She feels the whir of that little rubber band undoi ...more
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
Apr 21, 2016 Juhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am still trying to digest the story in my mind, but it kind of feels like this is a sort of book that you're supposed to just breathe in. There is no linear logic, or real clear division between characters, even. The way that there are three sets of twins and names are repeated throughout history, and the line of this family is intertwined with one another makes me feel like I just left a whirlwind of color and feelings. It was a truly well-crafted book that makes me wonder how people can writ ...more
Gail Richmond
Jun 13, 2015 Gail Richmond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a novel from roughly 20 years ago that just about knocked me out again and again. I always love dipping into Erdrich's prose, those intricate descriptions halfway between concrete and spiritual. The Native American characters who carry on tribal histories while fully inhabiting contemporary lives. The weaving of myth and narrative. The humor and the suffering. This one has lots of twins, including twin grandmothers who won't say which one gave birth, and twins who survive while their siblings do ...more
Jun 16, 2013 Kani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 02, 2016 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Antelope Wife is kind of like the beads that are collected, traded and sown by different characters in the book; so prized and valued that one family is named after a particularly beautiful bead. Each section narrated by a different individual is another bead in the pattern of the story, a somewhat disjointed story in the way in which it shifts time periods and locations. Some sections are dream sequences or visions while others are straightforward contemporary narrative. At the end of the b ...more
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Endicott Mythic F...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Antelope Wife - Discussion 6 23 Oct 22, 2010 05:04PM  
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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
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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. ” 35 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.” 15 likes
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