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The Antelope Wife

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,206 ratings  ·  295 reviews
One of America's most celebrated authors offers a powerful story suffused with a Native American sense of magic. Originally an important hunting ground for the Ojibway, the city of Minneapolis draws from nearby reservations many Native people, people who infuse the city with a strong and ongoing Native presence as well as a potent indigenous past. This story brings to life ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1998 by Flamingo (first published 1998)
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,206 ratings  ·  295 reviews

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Carl R.
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
It’s human nature to want people to like what you like, but when they resist, pointing to reasons they should like it is like explaining a joke. No laughing, no liking. Such it is with my friend and Louise Erdrich. I’m a HUGE fan of Louise. I consider her among the top five living writers in the country, perhaps the top ten in the world. If you took the trouble, as few do, to scroll through the archives of, you’d see how highly I regard her work and why. Yet, I hadn’t read the ...more
At first when I picked up this book, I didn't know what I was getting into. The first few pages of the novel feel disjointed, I couldn't quite tell whose perspective I was reading at any given time. It took me a while to get on board with Erdrich's 1997 novel which turns out to be fucking spectacular.

If you like Magical Realism. I feel the need to point that out early on enough in my review so those who are opposed to that classification can skim this review since it may not be appealing to all.
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strange-magic
The Antelope Wife combines Native mysticism and legend with the multi-generational stories of the Roy and Shawano families. Linked by one woman, she will bring their destinies full circle.

Written in lyrical prose and infused with haunting imagery, the story alternates between grief and acceptance, with a rare glimpse of joy.

I only started to enjoy the book about halfway through. The characters and stories before that come and go quickly and with little ceremony, which made it hard to figure out
The best part of this book is the dog's perspective in this scene:

I learned early. Eat anything you can at any time. Fast. Bolt it down. Stay cute, but stay elusive. Don't let them think twice when they've got the hatchet out. I see cold steel, I'm gone. Believe it. And there are all sorts of illnesses we dread. Avoid the bite of the fox. It is madness. Avoid all bats. Avoid all black-and-white-striped moving objects. And slow things with spiny quills. Avoid all the humans when they get into a f
Allie Riley
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Erdrich strikes again with her usual heady mix of poetic prose and magical realism. I just love her writing. This particular novel took a little while to get going for me and I did find myself struggling to work out exactly who was who for a bit. (I could have done with a family tree to refer to!) I think I just about worked it out in the end, though. Fabulous stuff, as ever. Highly recommended.
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
I hoped that I would like this book, but it was too fragmented, disjointed. It had great potential to be a reflective and philosophical journey, but ultimately the points didn't connect... the kidnapped antelope-woman Sweetheart Calico was supposed to be the link that connected all the events and characters of the book, but it just didn't hold water. I didn't have a single emotional connection with the story or characters during any point of the book.

Considering the treading into the spiritual
Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Louise Erdrich's works seem woven with textures of destinies, families, and histories. This book is no exception.

Frequently painful to read because of the emotional damage inherited by and inflicted by the characters in this tale, this book is nonetheless a rewarding experience because of the human redemption achieved by a few key members of this tangled family web.

The melodic and mystical prose guides the reader through worlds of tragedy, comedy, damnation, and salvation. Although not religous,
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Beautiful. At times, it takes me a while to slow down enough as a reader to appreciate Erdrich - when I do, it is always rewarding. I keep reading her novels in snatches, here and there, and because they are so entwined, I know there is a lot I am probably missing. I would like to eventually reread everything of hers I've ever picked up, in succession.
I loved this novel which is both magical and realistic. This is the first time I've read anything from Louise Erdrich. I really appreciate her style and the way she combines myth and reality. A very thought provoking read! I am looking forward to reading more books from her.
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A multi-generational story that blends Native beliefs with issues like domestic abuse, alcoholism, and suicide, to name only a few. The whole dynamic of clashing cultures, especially the internal struggles of urban Natives, fascinated me; it's something I hadn't yet been exposed to in my reading.

"Some bloods they go together like water--the French Ojibwas: You mix those up and it is all one person. Like me. Others are a little less predictable. You make a person from a German and an Indian, for
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I haven't read Louise Erdrich in years, but this book reminded me why she was once one of my favorite authors. It's difficult to describe her books--and they aren't for everybody--but this one reads like a vivid dream. Reality and folklore intermingle and time is not-linear, so it is often difficult to know if you are in the past or present. There is not necessarily a plot, but the book evokes a mood and captures all those feelings we deal with as humans. Her prose is so lyrical that it is nearl ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
At the beginning, I thought this not up to my usual expectation of Erdrich. Somewhere she reached into my soul and it became quite extraordinary. I kept thinking "this is magical realism, but I don't like magical realism." It is so much more. Many of her people have more than the usual 5 senses. It isn't easy to explain. They are of the earth, completely of it, and know what lies within and beyond it. This sounds unreal, but it is not.

Having said that, it is important to recognize they are, in
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
So many layers to this book. Multiple narrators. Family stories. Legends. And, all come together like a puzzle in the end. Meanwhile, the women are FEROCIOUS. Bad Ass. True Free Spirits. Damn.

Louise Erdrich, you got skillz.
Andy Miller
This novel shares some aspects of Erdrich's "Love Medicine" which is one of my top ten novels of all time. The chapters alternate perspectives from different characters, the chapters span several generations and intertwine the different character's lives. But perhaps excessive dabbling in "magical realism" that was not as prevalent in Love Medicine, detracted from character development and plot.

The novel starts with the Plains Indians wars when a soldier participates in a massacre of woman and c
DNF @ 7%

If you read the goodreads description of this book, it reveals nothing about why I absolutely cannot go farther than 7%. See, this is why I don't understand why books don't have the same content warnings as video games or movies. There's no reason why books/text are less graphic than visual mediums when you've experienced some kind of trauma or need to stay away from certain things.

Book content warnings (for as far as I got; there's possibly more):
- rape
- kidnapping
- emotional abuse

a floating, meandering dream of a tale that has beautiful moments, but ultimately fails to mesh together.

many members of a loosely connected group of ojibwa families meet, love, hate, and cross paths over the generations in the minneapolis area. some of these people are seers, who have to dream the names of the next generation; others are ordinary bakers who nourish this one. things that would be played for shock value (or at least dramatic climax) in a more mundane author's hands - a kidnapped
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Review of the earlier edition is located Here


This second, short review of The Antelope Wife is written because this Revised Edition is almost a different book from the first.

And as superb a book as the original edition is.....this one is better.

It is true with all of Louise Erdrich books that the story is illuminated by the history of the "fictional" Ojibwe(Anishinaabe) Reservation in No
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Louise Erdrich writes the most passionate and poetic prose i've ever read...

Most of Erdrich's novels that i've read so far swept me off my feet because of her masterful storytelling, this true weaving and weaving (though she might prefer beading ;)) of story-lines, and because of her descriptions of nature, landscapes, thoughts, emotions & sensations that are both so very poetic and precise. The centrality of passion in the lifes of her beautifully vulnerable, flawed or awe-inspiring charact
Aug 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Some beautiful writing in here, although unless you're paying attention you will definitely miss things. The cast of characters is large, and it is difficult to keep track of all of them, especially when the narration skips between generations at will, without signposting or explicit time shifts. This book probably bears another read.
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it
The lack of a fourth star is probably my fault. I suggest you read this slowly and contemplatively while awake and in the quiet. Also suggest you bring paper and pencil and diagram the characters. I have moved it into my permanent collection and would probably read it again after I have retired. Erdrich is one of my absolute favorite authors.
Bob Newman
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Oh, Deer Me

I have admired Erdrich's writing in the past---"Tracks" and "The Beet Queen"--so I was looking forward to reading another of her novels. I must say I was disappointed here. Though Erdrich, like N. Scott Momaday, has a highly poetical style and her pages are filled with beautiful images (which is certainly a positive characteristic), a novel after all needs to have a strong story line or a point. Beautiful sentences and poetic expressions do not make a story, even if spiced with magica
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Consistently in her writing, this author tells truth in ways that are at a deeper level than fact. This book consists of a series of short stories, not in chronological order. As with any good story teller, Erdrich tells you the part of the story you need, at the time you need it, and just when you think you understand, she introduces in something clarifying or unexpected. So beautiful in some places, I had to pause, to just savor. Recommended, but not as the first book by this author that you r ...more
Shawna Cevraini
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book. Full of descriptions like this: 'Trembling, stammering, golden and clear, the four o'clock light fell across the yard in a yolky radiance.' The connections between the people in the book are palpable. I could feel each painful or heart full moment that each of them had. There were times where I was a little confused, but I think that was deliberate - the people in the book are confused. Constantly searching, constantly coming back to the beads that we are all connected ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
The revised version of her original magic realism novel from the 90's. I always love coming back to this writer
I'm tagging this with my sff tag, but this is really a beautiful dose of magical realism. Erdrich is a great writer; the prose is beautiful, and the story loops back together around itself in truly wonderful ways. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, because it's in no way straightforward, but it's also the type of book that grabs you, sits you down, and makes you pay attention. The characters are flawed and you also find that they endear themselves to you; Erdrich can write about repulsive ...more
Kristen Suagee-beauduy
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: native-lit
Great "magical realism." Erdrich bases her title character on an old Anishinaabe literary figure from the oral tradition and experiments beautifully with lyrical prose that illuminates what only she could imagine to be the internal workings of an antelope who's been kidnapped by a man who fell in love with her human iteration at a powwow: "A tiny boat with a windup rubber-band propeller--that's what the first sensations of her freedom are like. She feels the whir of that little rubber band undoi ...more
Aishwarya Saxena
In 1998, Louise Erdrich published The Antelope Wife to high praise from readers and from critical reviewers. But in 2009, Erdrich reread the novel and started to think about the characters. The result was a complete reworking of the book, published in 2012. I was very intrigued by the idea that an author would return to a well-received work and drastically change it. In an interview published in the P.S. section of the Harper Collins edition, Erdrich says that only “the beginning is the same, an ...more
Oct 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
I've been working through Erdrich's oeuvre for the last year or two, and she has turned into a go-to author for me. I don't know if any of her books can match the mastery of The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse in my eyes. But she continually impresses me.

The Antelope Wife follows two particular Ojibwe families, the Roys and the Shawanos. The novel particularly plays with ideas of naming, bead-work, fidelity, parenthood, and surviving tragedy. As usual, point of view shifts from c
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
After being blown away by the first book I read of Louise Erdrich's (The Round House), I was pretty disappointed in this one. There were parts that I really liked, but then those parts were over too quickly. I didn't like how Erdrich flipped back and forth between multiple characters' POV—sometimes this can work, but in this case each of those sections were too brief to really get a feel for their personalities. I also felt that the overall themes were either too basic that I was looking for som ...more
Oct 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Hmmm, this book is different for a few reasons. It starts by abstractly describing a world divided by whites and Native Americans, and then brings them together. Generations pass by in a chapter. It is actually quite difficult to track who is who and how everyone is related. As with many stories of Native Americans, the creative license afforded by the mythology is often employed. Then the book lands on Cali, a girl who feels strong connections to her mysterious ancestry and tries to find her pl ...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
“ We have these earthly bodies. We don't know what they want. Half the time, we pretend they are under our mental thumb, but that is the illusion of the healthy and the protected. Of sedate lovers. For the body has emotions it conceives and carries through without concern for anyone or anything else. Love is one of those, I guess. Going back to something very old knit into the brain as we were growing. Hopeless. Scorching. Ordinary. ” 43 likes
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