Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shadow Tag; Louise Erdrich


Title:  Shadow Tag
Author:  Louise Erdrich
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Record Books - Harper
Edition: audiobook
Reader: Coleen Marlo (very good)
Setting: Minnesota
Source: library
Date Completed: November/2012
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

Shadow Tag is one of those stories where a married couple, this one with (3) children, stay together even though everyone knows that they would be better off living apart. Well, everyone in the family at least; to the outside world, they seem like the perfect Native American family.

The couple is Irene and Gil, two people who have a love-hate relationship, with their constant fighting, anger, rage, and downright hatred playing out on a regular basis. Their children, ages 14 to 6, Florian, Riel and Stoney are often witnesses to much of what goes on between the parents, and even the children and family dog are sensitive to the tension.  Each knows when to get out of the way of the parents. Irene wants a divorce from Gil. He's a somewhat famous artist, and Irene has been his model for some 15 years.  She has often being subjected to posing in crude demeaning positions, even looking beaten, bruised and bloodied.  She's conflicted - she has been working on her graduate degree and dissertation for many years and often drinks too much as well. She wants out of her marriage, but she hangs in there believing that she is doing it for her children because Gil will not let her leave with them.

When Irene discovers early on that Gil has been reading her personal diary, she comes up with an idea to really give him something to read, that may make him want to divorce after all.  The red diary embellished with statements that are meant to set her husband off (which Gil reads), she writes of her sexual encounters with other men. The blue diary (kept safely locked) is the one where Irene writes with honesty the frustrations about her marriage to Gil.  Of course, nothing good can come from her plan.

This story as I'm sure you have gathered was very dark, and even tragic.  I did not like either of the parents in this story and felt for the children -- each distinctly different and damaged by their surroundings.  Each of the children, I was able to sympathize with.  Listening to this audio book was like having this black cloud brooding above me. Although, I was not sure how this rather short novel was going to end, I was still taken aback when I turned the final pages.

As with any Louise Erdrich book I've read, I was not disappointed.

19 comments:

  1. It sounds like a very interesting story and I enjoyed your review. Not sure I will read this one though. I like happy endings and this one doesn't look like it is heading that way. Could be wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this author Diane! I am reading The Round House right now. I will have to add this one to my list.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also enjoyed this book but a friend of mine that lived through her parent's destructive relationship had a difficult time with it - too many triggers. I think Erdrich really captured the atmosphere of an unhappy marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my, I'm torn on this one. I'm definitely intrigued, but maybe I'll read it rather than listen. Black cloud + stressful commute = not good.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hmmm . .. not sure I could handle the degredation this woman had to endure. I'm not too good with domestic violence after seeing my cousin live though an abusive marriage. Glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I read this in print and *loved* it. As you said, Erdrich never disappoints.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am not sure, but I might like it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This sounds good. I actually know a couple like that - they're both miserable in their marriage and it affects their whole lives.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sounds like a bad idea to write in your diary for your husband to read (and get jealous). But for a novel plot, it's a very intriguing idea!

    I hadn't heard of this book, and will keep it in mind.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds like a lot of potential for drama, and maybe a bit dark for my tastes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sounds like a dangerous game she is playing. Edrich is going onto my list of must read authors.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It does sound dark, but I'd like to read it. Louise Erdrich sounds like a talented author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This sounds wonderful, Diane, dark but worth reading. I will keep an eye out for Shadow Tag. Terrific, concise review!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Initially I thought I did not want to read this book. But now I want to know how it ended. Great review, Diane.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My last run-in with this author didn't turn out so well, but I value your opinion and think that I might enjoy this one, dark tones and all. I'm going to look it up at my library.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dark indeed! But sounds like it really makes an impact. Can't wait to read it!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I still haven't read Erdrich. Looks like I;m missing out. Which should I read first?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I enjoyed this one too. It was my first Erdrich, but I'm planning to read The Round House soon.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, that sounds like a pretty explosive premise. I'll keep an eye out. After The Round House I really want to read more Erdrich.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.