Ally Armistead's Reviews > The Shadow Catcher

The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
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's review
Aug 17, 2010

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Read in September, 2010

3.5 stars for Marianne Wiggins "The Shadow Catcher," which is disappointing, as the sections that were devoted solely to the story of Edward and Clara Curtis were wonderful. Instead, the novel attempts to tie together two time lines--that of Curtis, and that of her own, in which Wiggins features herself as a fictional character.

Thematically, the novel is an exploration of absent fathers, men who "light out" on the road, in the wilderness, and don't return (or rarely). Edward Curtis was this kind of father, Wiggins' father was this kind of father, and the novel even throws a third abandoning father in there for good measure, just to seal the deal.

While the theme is well explored, the novel collapses a bit for me by flitting back and back too haphazardly between narratives, and I wish Wiggins had either (a) stayed in the world of Curtis solely, or (b) created a novel in which the protagonist, suffering from an abandoning father, attempted to dispel the myth of the legendary Edward Curtis (Chief, photographer of the Indian race) by revealing his own poor fathering. The novel has all the pieces there, but the structure didn't hold up. Ambitious, well-researched, but the architecture wasn't organic.

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