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Love Medicine

(Love Medicine #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  22,491 ratings  ·  1,597 reviews
Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 0061787426 here.

Set on and around a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, Love Medicine—the first novel by bestselling, National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich—is the epic story about the intertwined fates of two families: the Kashpaws and the Lamartines.

With astonishing virtuosity, each chapter draws on a range of
Paperback, Newly Revised Edition, 385 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 1984)
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Lyndi Brown Yes, Love Medicine is still top notch. (I even found a chart of characters and their ancestry to help out!)
I recently read The Round House for the fi…more
Yes, Love Medicine is still top notch. (I even found a chart of characters and their ancestry to help out!)
I recently read The Round House for the first time -- I can't believe I missed it. Now I am compelled to re-read all of her books over again! (less)

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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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A member of the Chippewa and Obijwe tribes, Louise Erdrich has been a leading voice in Native American literature for over thirty years. Determined to publish her first book before she turned thirty, Erdrich wrote Love Medicine at the age of twenty nine, and this debut novel won the National Critics Circle Book Award. Following the intricate web woven by the Kapshaw and Nanapush families over the course of fifty years, Erdrich creates real characters that tug on the heartstrings of human emotion ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes the books I enjoy most are the ones I have the least to say about. And what can I add to Toni Morrison's comment that "the beauty of Love Medicine saves us from being completely devastated by its power"? Because reading this book is living, in sweetness and beauty and love, even when it tells terrible things.

It's life and there are as may ways of looking at it as there are minds to see, but in so far as these folks have been and still are fighting for survival, not just of the individu
Julie Christine
Her clothes were filled with safety pins and hidden tears

Last week I sat on the steps of a downtown pier, stalled in the summer sun, reading my 1989 paperback edition of Love Medicine. With its Washington Husky-purple cover and title blaring in giant Brittanic Bold white font, the book must have appeared to the uninitiated like a pulp romance. Little did they know it was one of the most significant works of American fiction published in the 1980s, by an author who has become a national literary
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erdrich's first and still best-known work (because it's the one most often taught) has become something of a model for the contemporary short-story cycle, with interconnected stories devoted to a variety of interrelated characters spanning three (almost four) generations. The strength here is less in story (which centers on a love triangle and its effect on family ties) or character (vivid as they may be, they're still devoted women and unreliable men) than in style. I wouldn't call it lyrical b ...more
I recently read Erdrich's The Antelope Wife and really fucking loved it. I am now planning on reading everything by Erdrich I can - luckily for me she has written quite a bit over the years, so I can take my time and maybe not even run out of material.

Love Medicine was her first novel, published in the mid-80s. This one, I understand, was revised and expanded at least a couple times since it's original publication date. One might think that must be hard to do, and I think in a traditional novel
Jenny (Reading Envy)
What a fantastic debut novel! It has linking stories from different Ojibwe people in different generations, but not only do they tell a shared story, they interlink with the books we already read - Tracks and Four Souls - even though those books were written later. I did read the 1993 revised edition.

One element I loved was the portrayal of people in love even in old age. Here is a quotation that speaks to that: “I thought love got easier over the years so it didn’t hurt so bad when it hurt, or
Jennifer (aka EM)
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: idle-no-more
This is the short story collection (some call it a novel) that launches the community of characters Erdrich will revisit through another five (six?) books - a form that seems entirely her own. As she says in this "newly revised" edition: "Since writing Love Medicine, I have understood that I am writing one long book in which the main chapters are also books titled Tracks, Four Souls, The Bingo Palace, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse and The Painted Drum."

One of the things I lo
Oct 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: love, 2020-reads, fiction
What's your love medicine? If only you could give a person love medicine today and keep them safe from the virus, keep them safe from the hate, keep their heart fastened to yours. Alas, even Marie Kashpaw saw that things don't necessarily work out this way, at least not in ways we imagine.

The heart is deceitful to even the person who owns it, as most of these characters learn. Each person carries a deep need for transformation, an urgency to do something more, even if it means marrying the wron
Jul 25, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-library
If you find yourself back in the 1990s and in a college course called "Native American women authors," you should definitely read this book. All other people, including time-travelers, should skip it. ...more
Tori (InToriLex)
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

This is a memorable family saga that depicts the many hardships Native American Families have faced. This novel follows the Kapshaw and Nanapush families over from the 1930's to the 1980's. Nector Kapshaw binds two families together because he maintains an affair with a woman while married. Both women love him despite of it. This book describes the family drama, tragedy and alcoholism that afflicts members of the family. Each character shared a unique an
Ann Girdharry
This is such a great book.
It's also a very difficult one to read because it pulls no punches about the Native American experience. In this book you will read about grindingly cruel experiences, the drudgery of daily life, alcoholism and suffering, in-fighting and rivalry that lasts generations.

Erdrich tells us about her characters in small stories, each centred around a different character. Sometimes we read about the same event in different stories, told from different perspectives or perhaps
Connie G
"Love Medicine" is a multigenerational novel about two interrelated families living on a North Dakota reservation from the 1930s to the 1980s. It's written as a series of 18 interlocked stories that often tell about the same situation from a second character's point of view. Native American myths and tricksters color the stories. The author uses wonderful imagery involving water, fire, bridges, and religion. The characters are very conflicted, hanging on to old traditions while living in a moder ...more
This was an excellent introduction to Erdrich’s work. (I’m definitely going to pretend that that Future Home of the Living God DNF never happened.) I made the foolish mistake of not taking any notes or writing this up at the time, so four months later I have retained precious few details. To start with, I had a little trouble keeping the characters and chronology straight, but before long I was captivated by these interlocking stories that span half a century in the lives of a couple of Chippewa ...more
Feb 06, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book title off a lifetime reading list. I'm wishing I hadn't read it in my lifetime. Besides dropping the "F-Bomb" throughout the book, the story was pretty much a depressing chronicle of being drunk or sleeping with anyone but your spouse. (Thank goodness the descriptions were not explicit.) Plus, it is told from numerous points of view, not necessarily in chronological order. I found it confusing, and actually kind of taxing to remember who was who and how they related. The other pr ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable report from Chippewa country. I finally get Erdrich in a way that The Round House, with all of its successes, failed to grab me. I have read from many Erdrich fans how she's an author whose books they read over and over; I am not a big re-reader, even of my favorite books—I re-read passages and lines, and a cherished favorite once in a blue moon, but there's so little time and too many books—but while reading this, I understood her fans' (and I can now count myself as one of them) i ...more
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book actually earns six stars for the passage near the end about being "in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms."

I read this book because I remember that my grandmother loved it and I'm trying to read all of her favorite books. What if you could read all the same books that someone else read in their lifetime, in the same order, at the same age?
Laura Anne
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read more times than I can remember - and owned at least three different editions. First read when I was about 14 - and loved the Native American angle. And basically pick up and re-read every time I see it in a second-hand shop.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
So many things in the world have happened before. But it's like they never did. Every new thing that happens to a person, it's a first... In that night I felt expansion, as if the world was branching out in shoots and growing faster than the eye could see. I felt smallness, how the earthy divided into bits and kept dividing. I felt the stars. I felt them roosting on my shoulders with his hand. The moon came up red and warm.

I first read this book in a Native American lit college course in 2000 an
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel is set largely on a Chippewa reservation in North Dakota, with brief forays to the Twin Cities. There is a family tree at the beginning of the book--refer to it as you read. This is essentially the story of two linked multi-generational families. The speaker shifts from chapter to chapter, as does the point in the time-line. Now we have the voice of a young student going home to visit her grandparents and worrying about her cousin, now the voice of that grandmother still a young woman, ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this collection of interlocking stories, each featuring members of two related Chippewa families over three generations in the 20th century. Alcoholism, domestic violence, fierce loyalty, shredded dreams, endurance, the incredible strength of the human spirit are among the themes explored with sensitivity and beautiful insight. Erdrich captures the complexity of the relationships with amazing nuance. Even though we are introduced to a large cast of characters, Erdrich paints each so vivi ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I am rounding up to 3 stars because this isn’t a terrible book, but I can’t claim to have enjoyed it. Love Medicine is a somewhat awkward merger between novel and short story collection, made up of 17 pieces about two families living on the Ojibwe/Chippewa reservation over the span of about 50 years, from the 1930s to the 1980s. I call it an awkward merger because the stories all feature the same group of characters, but there’s neither the overarching plot you want from a novel nor the neatly e ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Dec 01, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tattered Cover by: Rob B.
Shelves: staff-recommends
Rob says:

If you haven't treated yourself to the storytelling of Louise Erdrich, this is a great place to start. Her characters are beautiful, tragic, fun and flawed. Sometimes all in the same person! Her subsequent works develop many of the people introduced in Love Medicine. Lots of great reading to be had!
Victor Carson
I have now read six of Louise Erdrich’s novels, including her most recent book The Round House. This novel, Love Medicine was the author’s first major novel, released in 1984. Ironically, the novel might be confusing for readers who have not read some of the more recent books, since Love Medicine introduces many characters, each of whom has such a complicated relationship to the other characters that the author provides a full-page chart of the interlocking family trees. The narrative then trace ...more
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Louise Erdrich's 1984 debut is one of those novels that's not so much a novel as a collection of related short stories, like Manhattan Transfer, Last Exit to Brooklyn and Visit From the Goon Squad. These are not my favorite things; they're hard to engage with. As far as it goes, though, it doesn't get much better than Love Medicine. It's written with total authority - impressive for a debut - and the stories feel of a whole. It follows two Native American families, the Lamartines and the Kashpaw ...more
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read "Love Medicine" as an anthologized short story twice before I finally picked up the entire book. "Love Medicine" is one of the three most moving short stories I've ever read. Lipsha Morrissey's voice, his eye on the world, his confidence in his gift to heal, and . . . well, this implies the wrong metaphor, but his faith in the midst of suffering, his longing to connect to his own history despite its knotted-ness makes him a vivid and resonant character. Don't we all have screwed up famili ...more
I don't normally give 5 star ratings these days but with this one I had to. This is a beautifully written novel set on an Indian Reservation in Dakota. It's the story of two families the Kashpaws and the Lamartines who aren't strangers to adversity by any means. This is a novel about family and the ties that bind people together. The characters here are flawed, deeply flawed but that adds to the strength of the novel overall.

A poignant novel that explores dark themes. Another from the Boxall 10
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: novel & short story enthusiasts
To write a novel, start with a good short story. Then, write another. Then, another. Recycle your characters, put them all together, and you have a novel.
Yes, I'm being glib. Actually, I'm a big fan of Louise Erdrich's work. She transitioned from poetry to short stories into novels, and while the transition was not seamless, it was, and still is, a journey and a growth the reader can experience with her. Her early novels do read like short story collections with the imagistic intesity of poetr
Nov 18, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book had no definable plot or great story to tell. It was awful.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love Medicine is a novel set in and around an Ojibwe reservation in South Dakota. It consists of a number of vignettes and stories about various members of two families on the reservation, the Kashpaws and the Nanapush/Lamartines, whose lives are interwoven in various ways. It is remarkably well written, particularly considering that this was Erdrich's first novel. She writes a number of different characters, with very distinct voices, each sounding distinct and authentic. And the writing is bea ...more
This a yearning tapestry novel. The various stories, or chapters, focus on different characters and often deal with overlapping events told from different points of view. like the title suggests, if you let this book and its fascinating characters into your heart, you'll find yourself healed in some way.
If you read this book keep in mind a couple of things while you're moving from paragraph to paragraph and page to page: how often colors are mentioned and in what context as well who they're ass
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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

Other books in the series

Love Medicine (7 books)
  • Tracks (Love Medicine. #3)
  • The Bingo Palace
  • Tales of Burning Love
  • The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
  • Four Souls
  • The Painted Drum

Articles featuring this book

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
217 likes · 79 comments
“Her clothes were filled with safety pins and hidden tears.” 57 likes
“Society is like this card game here, cousin. We got dealt our hand before we were even born, and as we grow we have to play as best as we can.” 47 likes
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