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Tales Of Burning Love

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  1,986 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
In her boldest and most darkly humorous novel yet, award-winning, critically acclaimed and bestselling novelist Louise Erdrich tells the intimate and powerful stories of five Great Plains women whose lives are connected through one man.

Stranded in a North Dakota blizzard, Jack Mauser's former wives huddle for warmth and pass the endless night by remembering the stories o

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Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 3rd 1997 by Flamingo (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rekha
Apr 27, 2008 Rekha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a brain crush on Louise Erdrich.
Ann M
One of my least favorite books ever. This is the one I threw in the creek one winter. It became encased in ice and was beautiful.
Sara
Jun 02, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to start by warning you: this book is painful. If you want to read a book about happy endings and hot romance, this is not the book for you.

I'm not even one hundred percent convinced some of the love expressed in this book is about what most would consider "real" love. But then, Erdrich suggests just as much with the title. Love is hardly ever initially an act of wisdom. Love burns. Love scars. Love rips you to pieces and leaves you a desiccated corpse by the side of the road. Love is
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Shannon Appelcline
Erdrich likes to bookend her novels, and I find this volume very interesting because it goes further, bookending her whole sequence of five books. It starts, just Love Medicine (#1) did, with June walking out into the snow to die. The protagonists of The Beet Queen (#2) are the parents of one of the major characters in this book (Dot) and Fleur, the star of Tracks (#3), is the parent of the other (Jack). Finally, the pivotal sequence of Tales of Burning Love all happens on the same night as the ...more
Sondra Wolferman
I was sort of enjoying this book until, about two-thirds of the way into the book, the author decided to throw in a horrific scene of animal cruelty in which a dog is dragged to its death behind a pickup truck. Since this gratuitous scene of cruelty did nothing to further the plot, nor to illuminate the characters of the participants, I can only assume the scene was placed there to shock and awe the reader at a point where the novel was beginning to run out of steam. Some might argue the scene h ...more
Lori
Oct 15, 2013 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I both liked and disliked this novel.

I gave it 5 stars because no one can dispute that this woman can write. Every sentence is well-crafted and she drowns you in the poetry of her language- in a good way.

That's why I liked it. The beautiful language was stunning. The subject matter is compelling and Erdrich always does a fantastic job of blatantly allowing her female characters to be sexual creatures.

I didn't like the characters. I didn't realize before I started to read that this book is a c
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Gretchen
Aug 19, 2009 Gretchen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tend to forget details of everything I read and see, but I'm left with an overall impression. I read this book every few years because I remember how much I like it, and I always enjoy it.
Catherine
Who peaks at their sixth novel??? Brilliant, kind, intimate, breathtaking. I am in awe.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I wondered many times while I read this why I put off reading it. I am a big Erdrich fan, but she needs be taken in small doses. This one isn't as tough on the reader (and her characters) as her others. In fact, she infuses more humor than in the others I've read, I think.

As in many of her novels, this one also takes place in and around Argus, North Dakota. A few characters have appeared in other novels, and I even recognized a couple of incidents retold here from a different perspective.

I'd l
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Bernadette
I'm finally finished! I thought I would never complete this book. Not because I didn't enjoy reading it (although, the nature descriptions made me come close to nodding off at times), but because I've been so busy and hadn't the time to devote to it.

Anyway, the tales in question are those of four women who were married to the same man (at different times). The tales, and other parts of the book, are rich and dense, the way Louise Erdrich always writes. So much detail, as if every word were true.
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Jan
Jul 05, 2015 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I do love Louise Erdrich, and I might love this book, but it's NOT a four star book yet in my personal lexicon. Four stars means I might recommend it enthusiastically, five stars means I'll keep it and re-read it. Three stars means I enjoyed it but will probably not urge anyone to read it. But...this may change as I give it more thought in the next few days. So--this is a temporary, place-holder review...unless of course my estimation of the book does not change, in which case this rating and th ...more
Lisa
Jun 21, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We are conjured voiceless out of nothing and must return to an unknowing state. What happens in between is an uncontrolled dance, and what we ask for in love is no more than a momentary chance to get the steps right, to move in harmony until the music stops."
Megan
Jan 03, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Erdrich, this novel was wild and daring, almost mythical in scope, but controlled and delicate. Her characters and how they related and intersected were masterful.
Heather
Sep 08, 2009 Heather rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-fiction
This story about 4 women trapped inside a car during a blizzard, sharing stories about their dead ex-husband, has all the things I love in it about Louise Erdrich: the fantastic and the strange, the beautiful and the everyday, all mingled together in that overcrowded car. Plus, it manages to answer a few unresolved questions about some of her other novel's characters, too. But, as others have said in their reviews, not Erdrich's best work, and so not a great representation of her work. For that, ...more
Natasha
Dec 19, 2015 Natasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I debated for a while between giving this novel 4 or 5 stars. But it truly deserves 5 stars. Erdrich, like always, writes beautifully and poetically and crafts a novel so good that when you finish it you want to to handle your used, paperback, scuffed-up book as if it were a priceless artifact.

Her characters were exceptionally portrayed. They were so fully human they felt almost hyper-real. Even the more minor, supporting characters were not flat. In fact, the reason I wondered if I should give
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Steve
Nov 27, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometime in the past I must have read at least two/thirds of it before, though the ending sparked no memories whatsoever. That's not something that normally happens to me. Anyway, this is Erdrich's funniest novel (at least of the ones I've read), populated by a major mess of a guy who, over the course of the dozen or so years covered within, has five wives. One dies a day after the "wedding," but the other four get extensive coverage in the novel, especially starting about 200 pages in when they ...more
Victoria
Mar 04, 2010 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-fic
This was a pretty good book. I enjoyed the writing - as well as the ridiculous situation that brings four ex-wives of the same man together. The identity of the hitchhiker was even a surprise to me. All in all, it was certainly strange, but I certainly enjoyed reading it. I liked the way the women's different stories came through their P.O.V.s.
Kristi Casey
I didn't actually finish this book the first time because I lost interest at about page 250. The whiny, fighting ex-wives was enough for me! But my daughter convinced me to finish saying it all came together in the end. And it did. The writing was beautiful, but the plot sometimes drawn out. I am glad that I finished it though.
Meg Prom
Mar 10, 2015 Meg Prom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humbly beautiful. It was my first foray into the world of Louise Erdrich and now that I'm here, I doubt I'll ever want to leave.
Clairelambe Lambe
This book is a kind of sequel to "Love Medicine" as I discovered when I read "Love Medicine" which, by the way, was great. I might not have read it had it not been recommended as I wasn't crazy for "Tales of Burning Love." I just wasn't that crazy for the characters in this book - I wish I hadn't read it out of order though as I would probably have appreciated it more otherwise. Not that this is dependent on the LM - the main story actually takes place some years after the end of the other book. ...more
Richard
While the story in this book wasn't as enjoyable, at least to me, as other Erdrich novels, the quality of the writing made up for it. The story did have its moments, however. It centers around Jack Mauser, who has been married five times, and his four surviving ex-wives. The highlight of the book is when the four surviving ex-wives are stranded together in a car during a deadly blizzard. To keep each other awake and coherent, they decide to tell each other their own "tales of burning love." Whil ...more
Sara
Jun 24, 2007 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not her best work. Don't start with this one.

The problem with this work for me is that I strongly dislike the main character so very much that it pains me to spend this much time with/on him. The other problem is failure to suspend my disbelief. And I read this one when I was sick as a dog, too, just like Atwood's Oryx and Crake. If you can't suspend my disbelief when I'm sleeping two hours a night because of severe pain and vomiting, have a fever of 103F, and am practically hallucinating my way
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Susan Eubank
Here are the questions we discussed at theReading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

What is this novel about?
This novel seems to tell me about the choices people make about “love” or companionship in a small town setting or am I extrapolating too much?
What do the narrative devices do to drive the story?
In the mini-reviews I have read there is lots of “liking” or “not-liking” Jack. Does the story hinge on that? What is a more subtle interpre
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Sara
May 27, 2007 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i was really hoping i would like louise erdrich's fiction more as i love her poetry. i won't write her off completely yet, as i have only read this book, but it was enh.

of course, it's hard to know what is erdrich and what is michael dorris ,her former partner, with whom she collaborated on all of her work and vice-versa until they bitterly divorced and he subsequently committed suicide. their collaborations, however, were deliberately obscure (only once did they publish a book in both their na
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Emily
Dec 07, 2012 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I actually didn't finish this book, so maybe my rating is unfair. On the other hand, I would have finished it if I was enjoying it at all. Instead, I was feeling a mixture of boredom with the story and dislike for pretty much all of the characters. I've only read three books by Erdich, but it seems to me that her books often teeter on the border between unique and outlandish. Her characters don't just mess up, they mess up spectacularly. They don't just get abandoned, they get abandoned utterly. ...more
Aryeh
Nov 28, 2015 Aryeh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In traditional Erdrich fashion, this book is made up of multiple separate tales that weave together to tell a whole story. For those fans of Sister Leopolda, this is the book that (finally) contains the radical tale of her death (or does it?). Kashpaw and Nanapush families accidentally meet again as well in the 1990s, and there's plenty of Erdrich's signature magical realism. All that said, the book wasn't, in my opinion, up to the author's usual writing quality.
Regina
Apr 06, 2015 Regina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was interesting, in the sense that it was both real and unbelievable at the same time. The characters are pathetically sad, and I found myself shocked that people like this really exists. Such sad heartbreak and cruel twists of fate await these stupid characters. I absolutely hated the main character and resented the fact that the women scorned did not all ban together and kill him in the end.
etherealfire
A novel about a man's relationships with five women and the effects it has on all of them. A great big beautifully written read. Set in North Dakota in contemporary times, it touches on various cultures. Each of the five women are very different from each other; their only real common ground is their ex-husband who seems to bring calamity to everything and everyone he touches.
Corinne
Jun 21, 2013 Corinne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It pained me to read this book because I ordinarily love Erdrich. The story here never became a story - it felt as though Erdrich had about a half dozen ideas and could settle on one so she just threw them all in together. She tried to make Jack the unifying element, but he was such a nonentity that the story never coalesced. These women can profess to love Jack all they want, but I certainly never saw any reason why they would. The extended scene in the car put me over the edge. It brought me b ...more
Margery
Oct 21, 2015 Margery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comic, tragic, scenic, mystic. A fascinating tale of the bleak and blizzard ridden north peopled with the loves of one man. A thousand and one nights told in one night in a car stalled in a snow drift in a snowstorm. A funeral for a man not yet dead. Descriptions of the plains and the flora, fauna and scents of the area. I think it would make a great movie.
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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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“some people meet the way the sky meets the earth, inevitably, and there is no stopping or holding back their love. It exists in a finished world, beyond the reach of common sense.” 195 likes
“There will never come a time when I will be able to resist my emotions.” 67 likes
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