Few authors can really inspire me like Louis Erdrich can. Although her novels tend to be “wordy”, her prose is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever read.
A few months ago I reviewed a more recent Erdrich novel, The Painted Drum…which is one of the most wonderful and frustrating books I’ve read in a while. Today’s book, Four Souls, is the story before The Painted Drum, a tale of revenge, passion, and courage.
Fleur Pillager is on a mission to regain her land. Taking her mother’s name (Four Souls) as her own, she leaves everything behind, including her young daughter, and embarks on a journey to find John James Mauser, the man who tricked her into handing over her property.
Upon her arrival, she discovers that Mauser is weak and dying. She decides to cure him…only so he can suffer properly for his wrongdoing. As Fleur works her way up from laundry maid to the mistress of the household, she magically cures Mauser of his ailment; however, seduction overcomes them both and Fleur and Mauser give birth to a baby.
Intertwined in this tale of revenge are the stories of three other individuals: Polly Elizabeth, who is the sister of Mauser’s current wife, Nanapush, an old Ojibwe man who has an interesting connection with Fleur, and Nanapush’s wife, Margaret. Nanapush and Margaret provide a bit of comic relief in this haunting tale, and are probably a true testament to those rare couples that remain in love through the golden years of their lives.
Having something to claim as your own, whether that be land, a child, or even a name, is the central theme in this novel. Not only that, but what has to be lost in order to obtain what’s rightfully, or maybe not so rightfully, yours.
NEXT WEEK: The perfect book for every young girl on your shopping list.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.