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The Painted Drum

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,993 Ratings  ·  623 Reviews

When a woman named Faye Travers is called upon to appraise the estate of a family in her small New Hampshire town, she isn't surprised to discover a forgotten cache of valuable Native American artifacts. After all, the family descends from an Indian agent who worked on the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation that is home to her mother's family. However, she stops dead in her t

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Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Will Byrnes
Dec 16, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a gripping, moving tale about Erdrich’s usual raft of multi-generational Native Americans. The story begins in present day New Hampshire when Faye Travers, an estate valuator, comes across the drum of the title, a large, ceremonial Native American artifact, and determines to return it to its rightful owners (not the owner of the estate she is handling). Back in time we learn the history of the man who made the drum, the stories of his family, three generations worth, and they are powerfu ...more
Liz
Nov 22, 2008 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
As always, Louise Erdrich tells a fascinating story, related to the Ojibwe Native American tribe. I loved this story about how people all over the continent are connected together by a drum, and how this drum helps heal those who have suffered great loss. There are many recurring themes in this story, and the mother/daughter theme is the one that stood out most for me. The daughters sacrifice much for their mothers and yet there is compassion and understanding for the mothers as well. There is o ...more
Judy Croome
Mar 30, 2011 Judy Croome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does one even begin to review the writing of Louise Erdrich? Her words resonate with ancient mysteries and intricate complexities which draw me into her characters' lives time and time again. This novel is no exception.

In The Painted Drum we follow the story through the eyes of different people.

Faye Travers risks her moral rectitude and her career as an Estates agent by stealing an incredible Native American drum. It called to her with a single beat and she was overwhelmed by its mystical po
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bookczuk
You know, I think I'm just going to give up on Louise Erdrich. I liked The Master Butcher's Singing Club, and was okay with The Beet Queen and with parts of The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. But with each of her books, it's a chore for me to read. It takes weeks, if longer occasionally. I pick them up and put them down. Sometimes, I'm rewarded with a line like "In her eyes I see the force of her love. It is bulky and hard to carry, like a package that keeps untying." (The Beet ...more
Catherine
I was falling asleep last night when I realized what a deft and meaningful thing Erdrich does in this book. By anchoring the book's beginning and end in the experience of Faye, a white woman (by culture, even if her bloodline does contain Ojibwe ancestors) Erdrich demonstrates how it's possible to love nature deeply, to revere the silence of open spaces, to believe in spirits and the agency of the dead - all without appropriating Native culture to do it. As the person who finds the drum of the b ...more
Teresa
Jun 27, 2009 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yo ...more
Chana
The best thing about this book is the author's sense of humor. I almost choked on my coffee a few times when she came up with unexpected bits of funny. Her scene with Kit Tantro and the Winnebagos was really charming and laugh out loud funny.
What I didn't like was the abrupt change in time, location and character. For a simple book one had to be paying attention to not be saying, "who is John?"
I also wish I knew what happened with Morris and Ira, there is an unfinished feel to some of the chara
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Christina
Jul 26, 2010 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The bare bones of the plot summary in this book's jacket notes made me slow to begin reading, because they suggested an elegy. But although the story includes tragedy and sadness, the mood is far from elegaic. There are many interesting and lively characters and relationships, some based in the present time and others in recent history. Some of the characters show cruelty and depravity; all are flawed but all show redeeming qualities. Relationships aren't static, but evolve in interesting ways. ...more
Mary Taitt
Jul 27, 2009 Mary Taitt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich 10/10 (5/5)

I know I say this about many of the books I read, but I REALLY liked this book. I liked it so much that I intend to reread it sometime soon, after it has a chance to settle somewhat. Like many of Erdrich's books, this one is about Native Americans, and the voice feels authentic and human. It is divided in four parts. In the first, we meet a mother daughter team who deals with people's estates after they die, or go in a nursing home, etc. We also lea
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Susan
Aug 21, 2009 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Initially I was enchanted with The Painted Drum. I found the first character’s musing interesting and the language in places was stunning. She described the eyes of a character as “peach-colored granite with specs of angry mica”. I was also intrigued by the theme of life and death, the presence of the dead in the lives of the living, particularly as influenced by Ojibwe thought.

But I was ultimately disappointed. Once the narration passed from Faye to the Ojibwe on the North Dakota reservation, I
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Vivienne
I found this a beautifully written tale or rather series of tales around the theme of a Native American drum. The other running theme is death and bereavement as various characters come to terms with the tragic deaths of sisters and daughters.

Louise Erdrich's descriptions of nature and animals were breath-taking giving a real sense of being in nature even when tucked up reading in an armchair thousands of miles away from her setting. She also deals sensitively with the Native American lore entr
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Maria
Jul 07, 2011 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erdrich's a remarkable storyteller, but here her themes of relationships & grief are a bit sentimental & pat. Her writing's more engaging usually; maybe she was becoming tired with her characters. I love this author, but it would be a reach for me to rate this even a 3.5 (if there were such a rating), given her other outstanding novels.
Donna
Sep 26, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultural
There were things I loved about this book, but there were also a couple of things I didn't like.

This book wasn't a character driven book. It was more a book about a people, a place, a culture, and a drum. I enjoyed this book. It was slow to start for me but it eventually pulled me in. It was well written with a lot of descriptions. At first, it felt too flowery for me. However, it did begin to feel a little more poignant as I got deeper into it.

Some of this was laugh out loud funny. But with th
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Mary
Nov 14, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Louise Erdrich is one of my favorite authors. Her stories often border on spiritual. The Painted Drum is not my favorite book she has written but I thought it was another winner. Although this story begins on the East coast of the US she brings in the MN/ND native american characters from her other books. She also moves the story to the area in the upper midwest that has been the setting for the books I most appreciate. Ms Erdrich is an author I think you either like or don't like - no inbetween ...more
Janelle
Apr 04, 2015 Janelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up while out of town in order to have something gripping to read on a long flight home. It did not disappoint.

Louise Erdrich is the master of interlocking storylines. I love seeing how her characters weave a web of relationships across time. In this novel, we meet the powerful Fleur Pillager (who features in other works, such as Tracks) as a baby. We also get a sense of how those who leave the reservation are still tied to it, whether or not they understand how.

The story begin
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Jgrace
The Painted Drum - Erdrich
4 stars

Faye Travers runs a successful estate liquidation business with her mother. She lives in a small New Hampshire town where she knows all the residents. They have history. She has history. And it all comes with a great deal of emotional baggage.The contemporary storyline is related in Faye’s voice, as a series of somewhat disjointed journal entries or internal conversations. Faye’s history contains the tragic childhood death of her sister and her father’s alcohol
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Alana
Jan 05, 2013 Alana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foreign-culture
This is definitely among the top five of the most pointless books I've read in the past 12 months, top ten most pointless I've ever read. We just get involved with the introductory character, then hear about her broken childhood, then suddenly we are thrust into another character's story that for a long while seems to have virtually nothing in common with the story line, then a long, drawn-out description of the making of the drum in which I zoned out so many times that I frankly did not care an ...more
Tess Mertens-Johnson
I have the privilege to live in the same area as Louise Erdich. The town I live has a community of Mdewakanton Sioux. In “The Painted Drum” she has brought the mystics and beliefs of the Native Americans to her readers.
While appraising an estate in New Hampshire, Faye Travers finds a moose skin cedar drum on Ojibwe heritage.
Through this drum and who it touched she follows the current and previous owners. We see how the drum changes families, saved lives and brings Faye to terms with her past an
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Alane
Dec 22, 2015 Alane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: death-and-dying
I would have preferred to have sat down and devoured this in a night. Instead I heard the audio version while driving all over Virginia. And there is something perfect about that.

Not really an indoors book.

The audio performance by Anna Fields was award worthy. Truly remarkable performances of voices.

And the book itself is stunning in many ways. Excellent view of grief and its many angles, particularly the loss of children.
Barbara
Jul 26, 2015 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this about eight years ago, on a Louise Erdrich binge. This time, reading this on its own, I enjoyed it more. I know the story and Faye Travers will stay with me longer than the first time.
Having said that, I wonder if some PhD candidate someplace has built a family tree of sorts, mapping the characters who appear in so many of Louise Erdrich's novels.
Cyndi Chauvin
Jul 29, 2011 Cyndi Chauvin rated it really liked it
Most favorite part of the book:

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, w
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I generally do NOT like this author, but this was one that had some merit. I was able to finish it, which I usually can't do with Erdrich, so that says a lot right there.

I found this passage particularly moving:

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And wh
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Jennifer King
May 01, 2012 Jennifer King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Painted Drum was a haunting novel. I enjoyed reading it, but Louise Erdrich's writing really struck me at the end. As threads of story and character wove together, I stumbled across this quote I love: "Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it ha ...more
Cheryl Klein
May 30, 2009 Cheryl Klein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
To say that this book helped me understand Native American identity seems like the worst kind of over-simplification--but by juxtaposing the stories of various struggling Ojibwe tribe members with those of local animals (ravens, wolves, a dog with "one hungry eye and one friendly eye" who escapes her yard but caries her heavy chain leash with her until her death), Erdrich shows how all kinds of creatures can maintain dignity and a lust for life in the face of innumerable cruelties. The mystery o ...more
Cyndie
Jan 29, 2012 Cyndie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A mother and daughter live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. They make a living by buying and selling antiques. While accessing the estate of a man who was a descendant of a North Dakota Indian agent, the daughter (Faye Travers) steals a mysterious drum. She has never done anything like this but is powerfully compelled to not only take it - but to find a way to return it to the tribe it came from. Within this narrative the story of the drum and its creation is revealed. The Drum's power - bor ...more
Sarah H
Oct 16, 2015 Sarah H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While Louise Erdrich is never a fast read, she is always worth it. Beautiful writing, big themes (in this one: parents and children, love and loss, spirituality, nature...), great storytelling.
Rebecca
Sep 18, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: realistic
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yo ...more
Hazel
Jun 12, 2009 Hazel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautifully written inter-woven story about loss, grief, and the impact of intergenerational trauma. Written with her characteristic poetic prose, it is a haunting story about how different individuals deal with loss, and the healing powers of a mysterious drum. Although Erdrich may not have intended it, it also raises questions, as it is written mostly about Native American characters, about historical trauma and how historical events can impact families for generations. An excellent ...more
Cynthia Rosi
Jun 08, 2014 Cynthia Rosi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy
Apr 16, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Giving this book four stars for two, unrelated reasons:

#1) The gorgeous writing. Nobody describes things as precisely as Erdrich, or plays with vocabulary as if she were painting. She creates unique characters and unique settings and gives you things to think about, after you finish the book. The writing is just superb.

#2) I listened to the book, and the actress (Anna Fields) who does the reading makes each character a completely unique voice. I have never listened to an audio recording of a boo
...more
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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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“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” 8287 likes
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.” 177 likes
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