by Julie HaleFebruary, 2004
The Master Butchers Singing Club
Ojibwe author Erdrich continues to chronicle life in North Dakota with her eighth novel, a sprawling historical tale of a German family set in the early 1900s. Fidelis Waldvogel comes home from World War I to marry Eva, the widow of his best friend who died in battle. Together, they make a new life in Argus, North Dakota, where Fidelis works as a butcher and forms a singing club made up of the best male singers in the community. The Waldvogels have four sons, but when Eva falls sick and dies, Fidelis must struggle on without her as a single father. Enter Delphine Watzka, a kind-hearted vaudeville performer who gives the thick-skinned, angel-voiced butcher hope for the future. This is a wonderful story of friendship, family and community, written with wisdom and compassion by Erdrich, whose poetic style perfectly captures the desires, fears and hopes hidden in the human heart. A reading group guide is available in print and online at www.harpercollins.com/readers.