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Tales of Burning Love

(Love Medicine #5)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,408 ratings  ·  172 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 of ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 14th 1997 by Harper Perennial (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,408 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have a brain crush on Louise Erdrich.
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Ann M
Sep 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
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
Britta Böhler
Not my favorite Erdrich-novel.
Sondra Wolferman
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Who peaks at their sixth novel??? Brilliant, kind, intimate, breathtaking. I am in awe.
Carolyn Klassen
4.5 stars.

A new top favourite of Erdrich's works. Resolution for so many characters that we've met along the way. Cannot wait to branch out from the Love Medicine series and meet new folks, but I'll miss those little glimpses, mentions of Lyman, Leopolda, Fleur, Dot.
The Love Medicine series is seven titles of interwoven town saga, intergenerational family narrative, pure magic on the page. It handles indigenous spirituality, love (familial, platonic, romantic) and desire, the importance of
Klaas Roggeman
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2018
I bought this volume a long time ago in a second hand bookshop, because I really liked Tracks. This one isn't up to the same level though. It features some intriguing scenes, like four ex-wives/widows trapped in a car during a snowstorm after returning from the burial of their former husband, but there are too many weaker moments between those brief sparks of imagination. I usually like short novels, writers who manage to be concise and precise and with 450 pages this definitely falls eh short ...more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Rivera Sun
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Five wives, one man, six stories colliding in a display of personality fireworks (especially at his funeral) that ring surprisingly true to real life experiences we've all had. These are complex (and very different) women, each with her flaws and strengths. You find yourself rooting for them all, and ultimately for the floundering husband. This novel traverses familiar landscapes in Erdrich's work, giving the reader the sensation of the social nets and snares of small town/rural region where ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was introduced to Louise Erdrichs work in college during a Plains Lit class. We read _Love Medicine_, and I was hooked. I read _The Beet Queen_ and _Tracks_ on my own, and loved them as well.

However _Tales of Burning Love_ and I have a long, difficult history. I bought the hardback on a discount shelf in a bookstore probably 20 years ago. I have started & stopped reading the book multiple times over the years. Finally, during stay at home orders, I pushed through.

As always, Erdrichs
Erin || erins_library
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hi friends. I really should have posted this review at the end of May, but here we are! This was read as part of #erdrichmedicinereadalong, and currently were reading The Antelope Woman. If youd like to join us for a video discussion taking place the weekend of July 10th, please let me know!

I was pleasantly surprised to realize this was connected to the Love Medicine series. It was really lovely to be back in the world Erdrich created and deepen connections to characters and aspects of the
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.

Dec 19, 2015 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
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.
Aug 29, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jun 21, 2015 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Mar 04, 2010 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
Apr 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"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."
Meg Prom
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jack Mauser may be the lynchpin to this book but Tales of Burning Love is more about the reflections of women tied to his life. Jack has ambitions, works hard, but over extends himself, especially financially, with half-thought out dreams of success that just never materialize. His love life proceeds similarly. He has been married five times - is attracted to (and is attractive to) a large variety of women. His first (brief) wife was June Kashpaw/Morrissey who died in a snow storm on the night ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Its overly long, but I enjoyed this novel immensely. Jack Mauser has had 5 wives, 4 of whom are still living. When these women convene at his funeral, they find something to like in each other and have a chance to tell their stories when they become stranded in a car in a snowstorm. Also in the car is a well-disguised hitchhiker whose identity remains a mystery while each woman is telling her tale and clearing the tailpipe so that they can turn on the heat now and then. Eleanor is quite possibly ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 I wavered repeatedly between 3 and 4 stars while reading this. I liked it overall, and liked parts of it a lot. At times the first-person narratives of the multiple characters grated because they were mostly all written lyrically, with great skill and poetry, exactly the way real people do not talk. This was particularly annoying as these narratives were supposed to be spoken aloud to others. There are also third-person sections, sometimes focusing on minor characters, and it feels like ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Clocking in at 452 pages, it's surprising how quick of a read this book is. None of the characters are lovable, not even likeable, yet it's difficult not to be curious how the story will play out. It's like bad TV in book formation. Nevertheless, it's undeniable Erdrich knows how to string words together into the prettiest of sentences. I'm reminded how limited daily vocabulary tends to be when there are millions of the most.. delicious words out there to be used at our disposal.

You know what I
Paulina Sanchez
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-lit
I'm always saying that what I look for in a book is perspective. And I couldn't ask for more from this book!

This book is about Jack Mauser and the five women who married him. In this novel, we get to see Jack through his own perspective of himself as well as the women who have shared important aspects of his life with him. It really got me thinking how not one person can be fully known, for everyone has different facets, we change as we grow older and our own perspectives on the world change as
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2017 Reading Chal...: Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich 1 18 Jan 03, 2016 02:09PM  

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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 ...more

Other books in the series

Love Medicine (7 books)
  • Love Medicine
  • Tracks
  • The Bingo Palace
  • The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
  • Four Souls
  • The Painted Drum

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