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The Plague of Doves

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  7,124 ratings  ·  1,243 reviews

The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation.

Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a reposito

Hardcover, 313 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Harper (first published January 1st 2008)
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsBreaking Dawn by Stephenie MeyerThe Host by Stephenie MeyerThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferCity of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Best Books of 2008
92nd out of 1,358 books — 6,760 voters
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 ErdrichBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl Seal
Native American Fiction
22nd out of 460 books — 435 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
We open with a scene of mass murder. A child (Moses, Kal-El) is spared when the killer’s weapon jams. He quiets the baby with music. Violence and music permeate the following tales and only at the very end do we learn who the baby grew up to be and the identity of the killer. There are other atrocities to come. How these events came to be and the ongoing impact of time and transformation define this book.

Multiple narrators, multiple generations, much overlap between Native Americans and European...more
Extraordinary. Erdrich uses a succession of first-person narrators that dovetail with each other beautifully, à la Faulkner's The Hamlet. Each voice has its idiosyncrasies and slightly different vocabulary. The action is centered around the unsolved murder of a family of white farmers in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, that evil was discovered at the time by a group of traveling Indian merchants. Only a tiny babe survived in her crib. The Indians are then summarily lynched by white v...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 23, 2011 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: jo
Can I keep giving all the books I read this year four or five stars? Is my judgement becoming less and less credible (assuming it had any credibility in the first place)? May I just say that it's all Goodreads' fault, and the many Goodreaders (you know who you are) who've led me to these authors and books that so precisely fulfill my every literary desire? I'm getting ruthless at picking and choosing among my to-read pile, going only for those I *know* will satisfy me - the responsibility for wh...more
Dec 14, 2008 jo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who love great literature; people with a great love for storytelling
louise erdrich wrote this with the wind of the spirit at her heels. what amazing writing. i'm going slowly, because a) the writing is too beautiful to hurry; b) the story is too intense to hurry; and, less fancifully, c) i need a solid plot-directed narrative to keep me going these days, and this book doesn't have one, so i am reading when the need for aforementioned is not too pressing.

this novel goes back and forth in time and space, focusing on a host of characters of mixed indian-white ethn...more
Interweaves the oral history & 1st person narratives of the members of a N. Dakota town & reservation to look at the aftermath & effects of an isolated murder of a white family and subsequent lynching of several innocent Indians. I couldn't read this in one sitting, so I was finding myself having a hard time keeping all of the different threads and families straight. There seemed to be so many that by the end when a new one started, I couldn't help thinking, "yikes, when is she is go...more
Dec 25, 2012 Mosca rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: involved readers
Recommended to Mosca by: Louise Erdrich

We never really can escape our own histories. And our histories are darker than we realize.

These two truths frequently inform the complex plots and genealogies of Louise Erdrich’s fiction.

In many of her earlier writings she has taken whole series of books to puzzle these interlocking plots and genealogies. She reveals hidden identities. And follows bloodlines of power through families. And she shocks and haunts us with secreted knowledge that becomes, at least, partiall...more
Well, I tried. An NYTimes book reviewer hailed this book as one of the top novels of the year (2008), so I bought the hype, scooped it up, and admired the cover for a long little while. Then I started reading ... and nothing grabbed my attention ... at all. And I became bored. Soon I realized I was 20-something pages in, had been introduced to a dozen characters, and felt completely unattached. Some might say I gave in too soon--that after 25 pages I should still be intently reading and waiting...more
Aug 01, 2008 Sonja rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pam Barnes
Recommended to Sonja by: No one
Louise Erdrich, master storyteller and language artist, does it again, but even better this time. Louise write about the intersection of the caucasian and Obijibwe (spelling?) of the Dakotas. This book, more than anything, explores the ripples in the pond effect one horrendous action can have on future generations in a community. Other reviewers have said that the book is too confusing, too many characters, too many storylines. My response is, that if you wish to know what it is like to live in...more
Chance Maree

This is one of the rare occasions where I enjoyed the journey without much concern over where the novel was heading. The characters, dialogue, and ambiance, along with skilled writing, made reading more of a pleasant book cuddle which I looked forward to each evening. That said, the surprise final wrap up which drew together all the strings was a cherry on the Sunday. This review sounds like literary comfort food, and perhaps it is. Multiple narrators voice their experiences within an Indian res...more
Really, really good. There are multiple narrators and each of their stories could stand independently, but somehow they also form a cohesive novel. After you read the book, you should read Claire Messud's essay on The Plague of Doves in they July 17 issue of the New York Review of Books (or NYRB - pronouced "nerb," as in "Hey John - did you see the article on The Plague of Doves in the newest issue of the Nerb?"). I think it's on the website. I also think the book will be better the second time...more
May 29, 2008 Katina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
Louise Erdrich rules. I've liked her other stuff, but this book made even The Painted Drum pale in comparison. The characters in this book are complex and come alive and the narratives all weave together in unexpected and creative ways. I would recommend this for anyone, but especially for people with an interest in Native American history or folks from the Great White North (i.e., ND, SD, MN, or WI).
Matt Brady
It starts with a murder. Details are scant. There’s a man, and he’s just killed some people. A family. The only survivor of the massacre is a baby, crying in it’s cradle. The man’s gun has jammed. He plays music to soothe the baby, while he fixes his gun. And then….

We shift. To the childhood of Evelina Harp, a mixed blood growing up in the early 60’s and trying to navigate her tangled family and community history. To Bazil Antoine Coutts, a tribal judge straddling the line between law and tradit...more
I don't think Louise Erdrich can write a bad book, but this wasn't one of my favorites of hers. All the elements of a great book were there, but I felt like they didn't tie together. There were too many narrators that were too unrelated. The central "mystery" of the book wasn't played up enough. But there was some beautiful writing and character development in there. I would recommend for Louise Erdrich fans, but if you've never read her, start with Love Medicine or Tracks, and if you have read...more
Joy H.
RE: _The Plague of Doves_ (2008) by Louise Erdrich
[This book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist (Fiction, 2009)]
[I read this book in Jan/Feb 2009. I added shelves on 4/1/11.]

For my comments about this book, please see the following discussion thread:

Below is the my first post at the link above:
Last night, our town library book group discussed _The Plague of Doves A Novel_ by Louise Erdrich.

Both the book and the...more
Victor Carson
I have now read five of Louis Erdrich’s novels, including her most recent best-seller, The Round House. I have liked all five but I think that The Plague of Doves, published in 2008 and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2009, may be her best. As the Goodreads’ description says,
“Louise Erdrich's … novel … centers on a compelling mystery. The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subseque

If I'm to be honest about the work of Louise Erdrich, I must admit that I don't much care for her characters, her locales, her plots, or the meandering manner in which she chooses to negotiate her narrative. However, should you attempt to wrest one of these novels from my grasp be forewarned, you will have a bit of a fight on your hands.

Because what Ms. Erdrich excels at, what she brings so adeptly to the page, where her skills align like so many tumblers to the sophisticated lock of storytellin...more
Lately I've been trying not to read too much about a book before I read it, though I wish I'd read something about this one. If I had just read here or over at Amazon, I would have figured out this was written in almost scraps, as stories, and not been so confused (I listened to it) as the story moved in tiny, episodic pieces. All delightful, well-crafted, and beautiful, but incomplete, at least in terms of what a novel might do.

That said, Erdrich is brilliant in the small moment, the tiny detai...more
Jun 01, 2008 Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy Louise Erdrich writing
Shelves: 2008, general-fiction
I enjoyed this book. The writing was rich and poetic. The plot was a little tiresome based on the fact that Erdrich cast a wide net in this novel that is less than 400 pages. Each chapter was a different perspective and time. Sometimes I found myself enjoying what I was reading but a little confused with context ("how exactly did I get here?").
Also the jacket blurb leads the reader into thinking there is a mystery to be solved. There is but it seems like a minor part of the plot, but a big part...more
Erdich always tells a good story, and this is no exception.

A cast of thousands, all related by birth, marriage or trouble. Native Americans. Murders, births, tragedies, comedies, imprisonments, escapes, loves, hates--pieces of local history related from multiple points of view until they form a branched river that wanders off and circles ever back again to join in a muddy whole. Magic. Mystery. Numbing reality. Sex. Drugs. and of course, violins.

And the answer to "who done it?", at last. You sho...more
Erdrich weaves the history of a small town in North Dakota, where over the years, the experiences of Native Americans and whites have tangled in a sometimes violent web. Some stories are more engaging and immediately grabbing than others, especially those of Holy Track who was lynched as a boy and of Marn Wolde, a woman with a passion for snakes who runs away with a preacher (who in turn develops a dangerous cult). The chapters and voices unite to create a common history of the area. Erdrich's w...more
I ordered "The Round House," another Erdrich novel, from my book club, and then a friend told me that RH involved characters from another Erdrich book, "The Plague of Doves"--and that I should read Doves first.

It was only available on disc at the library, so I checked it out. "Reading" a book on disc takes a long time, however--and you have to be near a CD player and doing something where you can focus all your attention. In other words, driving. I ended up reading/hearing the two books simultan...more
Dana Stabenow
I have to be missing something about this book. I even went back and read the first page again and it didn't help. Why introduce the baby and then the baby as old woman and have nothing of her between except toward the end a brief description of her through the eyes of her lover? And why let Judge Coutts tell that story in flashback? After he married Geraldine? Too many flashbacks may be part of the problem. I feel like I've got whiplash.

This has to be one of the more disjointed books Erdrich ha...more
This book took me forever(!!!) to read. Not because it was dense or difficult or uninteresting... but because I started reading it on the day I got the keys to our new place. And then we had to move 1600+sqft of stuff and clean 1600+sqft of space in five days and then we were out of town for a while and then we came back to boxes upon boxes and had to go back to work... So, you see, really not the book's fault.

The writing is beautiful. I really dig the interlocking stories--being from a small to...more
I guess as many reviewers pointed out- you need a score card of characters. Combined with that you almost need to read the end first to piece together the rest of the stories. Even though this is a novel, and Erdrich is a masterful writer, the book seemed less a novel and more stories that fit together as a whole. It could be that my three star rating is because I had to review back to remember what I had read each time I picked up the book. Many of the stories were probably four, or even five s...more
I am so glad that is is a book that my book discussion group is reading because this novel deserves much discussion. It is as hard to give a review of The Plague of Doves as it was to sort out the characters and the stories they were part of. Nearly halfway through the book I decided I needed to make a list of the characters that are mentioned. This made the story clearer and gave some purpose and understanding to the details Erdrich so richly describes,

This is a story of family...of tribe....o...more
After reading Round House, which was my favorite book this past year, I was very much looking forward to getting back into these characters. However, the central conflict of The Round House was much more compelling to me than that of Plague of Doves. I did enjoy the narrative around Mooshum's and Shamengwa's history, but the other characters did not seem to have a connection that was significantly relevant. Had the characters (chapters) had more of an effect on each other, I would have appreciat...more
This turns out to be a prequel of Round House in a way - I had no idea when I started it (my Dad actually got it for me, as a signed edition, at the bookstore that Louise Erdrich owns in Minneapolis - Birchbark Bookds).
It is much more raw and far flung than Round House, so I understand if it got less attention (and less reward), but it is very powerful nonetheless. Like life, the threads are not all neatly tied at the end, by any means, although one feels privileged to have learned as many inter...more
Brilliant, as always, from Erdrich. I actually think this is her best yet, and I still recall images from the award winning Bingo Palace and Love Medicine all these years later. The mix of humor, humanity and pathos is right, yet she does not spare us the horror that humans are also capable of. Just a perfect book.
Once when I lived in Sitka Alaska and was roaming around looking for a smoke, a man wearing a utilakilt (a canvas utility kilt made in Seattle) walked towards me on the sidewalk in front of the Pioneer Home, a curl of smoke issuing from his right hand. As it turns out he was in town to perform as part of a advant-garde ensemble at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahídi Tlingit center later that day. I went to see the performance that had movie shorts accompany the shifting musical score. One short featur...more
My first experience with Louise Erdrich was with last year's THE ROUND HOUSE, and only later did I discover that it was the second in a (fortunately loose) trilogy of books centered around the impact of injustice on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. (I understand that this reservation is also at the center of a number of her other novels.) THE PLAGUE OF DOVES is the first, arising out of a number of initially unconnected short stories that evolved into a single novel centering on the murder...more
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Manchester Distri...: Plague of Doves 8 10 Sep 25, 2014 05:45AM  
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Epic Novel? 5 18 Mar 18, 2014 05:27PM  
Frustrating! 8 112 Jun 11, 2013 01:48PM  
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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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“When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.” 2133 likes
“What happens when you let an unsatisfactory present go on long enough? It becomes your entire history.” 33 likes
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