Caroline Herbert's Reviews > The Shadow Catcher

The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
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's review
Sep 25, 2010

liked it
Read from August 31 to September 18, 2010

I found it hard to get a handle on this book, there were so many moving pieces. It's a historical novel, a western novel, and tying it all together is the theme of fathers abandoning their families. In addition, the author turns herself into one of the characters, so it's hard to tell how much of the book is actually fiction. The modern-day story is that of the author (truth or fiction?), who has recently finished a book about Edward Curtis, the western photographer most known for his portraits of Native Americans taken in the early 20th century. Her life takes a strange turn when she gets a call from a hospital in Las Vegas saying her father has been admitted--but her father's been dead for 20 years. Curious, she decides to go see who has assumed her father's identity (although she admits to a secret hope that maybe her father IS really alive). That story is interwoven with that of Clara, who will become Edward Curtis' wife, as she adjusts to life in the wilderness of the Pacific NOrthwest. I found Clara's story to be more absorbing than that of the modern day author, but the book is beautifully written throughout. As I said, every story has an absent father--Edward Curtis, who left his family for years at a time, the author's father, and the man she discovers in the hospital. The stories are all very much rooted in the place--the American West, a place that all of the characters love deeply. The reason I only gave this novel 3 stars is that it didn't totally grab me, but I think it's definitely worth reading!

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