Bucket's Reviews > The Master Butchers Singing Club

The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
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Apr 01, 09

bookshelves: reviewed, culture, generational-epic, history, identity, life-and-death, literary, love, favorites
Read in January, 2008

Fidelis is deeply affected by his experience in World War I (as a German soldier). He marries the fiancee (Eva) of a friend who died in the war and finally falls in love. He goes to America with a suitcase of sausages and his butcher knives and sells them to get to Seattle but stops when he runs out in North Dakota. His wife and step-son join him; they establish their butcher shop. Fidelis establishes a singing club, they have three more sons. Delphine gets home to ND too with Cyprian (gay, circus guy). They pretend to be married. She has a drunk father, they find dead bodies in his basement. Sheriff is in love with Delphine's friend and trying to solve murder case. Delphine starts working at the butcher shop. Fidelis' sister (Tante) comes and is horrible. Eva dies of cancer, Tante take the youngest two boys to Germany, Delphine marries Fidelis (Cyprian on the road again). World War II begins and the sons enlist (some as Americans, some as Germans). There's also Step-and-a-Half, who turns out to have found Delphine as an infant in an outhouse.

Themes: war versus love battling in Fidelis, unspoken wants and needs (Fidelis and Delphine), the butcher's trade, singing, Cyprian and Delphine's relationship, Roy and Step-and-a-Half's relationship, the murder mystery.

I loved this. Complex, interesting characters and relationships, multiple story lines that come together, a bit of a surprise ending, grief but happiness too. Very real but far removed from my life.
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