Barbara's Reviews > Shadow Tag

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
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Mar 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2010

Louise Erdrich has penned a disturbing tale of a floundering marriage. Gil, an artist and Irene, his wife, who has posed for his acclaimed paintings for many years, are in the midst of searing, injurious game playing. Irene has long suspected that Gil is reading her diaries. She writes manipulative fantasies and invented facts in one , which she knows he will see and stores her true journals in a safety deposit box. They are parents to three bright, confused children, who sometimes exist in a world of chaos and a loving, warm atmosphere at others.

Irene writes,"Falling in love is also falling into knowledge. Enduring love comes when we love most of what we learn about the other person and can tolerate the faults they cannot change." (p.29) Later, Erdich states, "Gil had a wall. Irene had a wall. Between these two walls there was a neutral, untouched area, a wilderness of all they did not know and could not imagine about the other person. Gil actually had a clear picture of this space between them. He saw it as an untouched Eden ..." (p 150)

Erdich has in these statements expertly shaped the roots of her characters' dilemma and the intractable maze which they have woven around themselves and their family. The novel was dark and difficult at times, but often humorous and warm. The characters were skillfully drawn, both physically and emotionally. The conclusion was gripping and unexpected This author has masterfully accomplished this complex novel.
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Reading Progress

03/27 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-32)




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Elizabeth (Alaska) Another Erdrich! Marvelous! I'm not officially adding it to my Wish List - I'll eventually get to everything she has written.


Barbara Oh, that growing list! I have never read her books, so I should probably move her up to the top!


Maria Hey, ladies, Erdrich is an addiction. A lucid, lyrical voice like a refreshing wind, particularly after all those stuffy boy wonders.


Barbara This was recommended in the Sunday Globe Books section. They liked it.


message 28: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Ooo, this one looks very good. Just added it to my tbr!


Barbara I wonder which of us will get to it first! There are too many TBR's! :)


message 26: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Lol Barbara, yes there are! This site is baaaad for our TBR lists. They just keep growing and growing and growing! :)


Barbara The good news, I had reserved several books at my library and this was one of them. The bad news, I picked this up and 2 others. I don't think I'll be able to read fast enough!


message 24: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Barbara wrote: "The good news, I had reserved several books at my library and this was one of them. The bad news, I picked this up and 2 others. I don't think I'll be able to read fast enough!"

Always a problem! Will we ever learn?!?!! LOL

Can't wait to see what you think of the book :)


message 23: by Barbara (last edited Mar 03, 2010 04:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barbara Kelly, as I have said before, we're like kids in a candy store!


Maria This is a beautiful review, Barbara. I think this may be the book that draws on the author's own difficult marriage & aftermath -- I'm sort of afraid to read it. she's such an honest writer and I don't know if I can handle her flaying herself in public, if that's what she does. Of course that may not be the case.


Barbara Maria, I read that Erdich denies that this has any relationship to her failed marriage. If it did, it would have been pretty brutal!


Maria Okay.


message 19: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· It sounds like I really must get to this writer, and soon. So where should I start?


Barbara I have only read a few. Several of my GR friends have recommended her repeatedly. I also liked The Master Butchers Singing Club , which is a little different for her, but very good!


Elizabeth (Alaska) Karen, if (when?) you read any of her first 4 publications, I recommend you read them in order. They include many of the same characters whose experiences are referenced in the others.


message 16: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Barbara wrote: "I have only read a few. Several of my GR friends have recommended her repeatedly. I also liked The Master Butchers Singing Club , which is a little different for her, but very good!"

Ah yes, now that one I do have on my wish-list.

Does Shadow Tag show her Native Indian roots?


Teresa Karen wrote: "Does Shadow Tag show her Native Indian roots? "

It does, to a certain extent, in the main character of Irene and her sister, and with the community they live in. It's not a main element from what I remember, but definitely a characteristic.


message 14: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely I have to try an Erdrich one of these days! Seems like she is better than Jodi Piccoult (whose book Sister's Keeper I tried and gave up after 3 pages). Thanks!


Barbara I used to like Picoult, until I discovered that she writes with a "formula" and never deviates. She is a pretty good writer and takes active topics and spins her yarn. But she never deviates in her method. I likes Sister's, but it was the first I read by her. One other that is good and a little different is Plain Truth.

Erdrich is a much better, more imaginative author.


Elizabeth (Alaska) They're not even in the same league.


Teresa Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "They're not even in the same league."

You took the words right out of my mouth.


message 10: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Karen, if (when?) you read any of her first 4 publications, I recommend you read them in order. They include many of the same characters whose experiences are referenced in the others."
Thanks, Elizabeth. Love Medicine, Beet Queen, Tracks, Bingo Palace; are those the ones you mean?

I'm certainly going to put Plague of Doves on the list, that looks like a good place to start.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Yes, Karen, and as I look further at descriptions, there are others with those characters. I'll go take a look at them all and see what further I can learn.


Elizabeth (Alaska) OK, those that include in their descriptions characters I recognize from the first four are:

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
Four Souls

so you would want to read those first four before these. In addition, The Master Butchers Singing Club takes place in Argus, North Dakota, and some characters overlap. This was my first Erdrich, read out of order, but I don't think that one has enough overlap to make any difference.


Barbara I hadn't read any that you mentioned, Karen and Elizabeth, but TMBSC was one I read and I did not find it confusing.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I don't think you'd find any of them confusing. It's that the stories and characters intertwine and enhance the stories, one for another. The competing butcher in Master is an important character in Beet Queen.


message 5: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Sounds like that's quite a programme I have before me!


Elizabeth (Alaska) Me, too, Karen. I thought it was just the first 4 and Masters that had repeating characters. Then I wanted to add some others to my Wish List and recognized a character, and went looking.


Barbara Karen wrote: "Sounds like that's quite a programme I have before me!"

Karen, it sounds as if we both have to read more of Erdrich!!


message 2: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Someday I'll have to get to her. I think I have The Beet Queen on one of my shelves.


Maria Karen, she's magnificent.


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