Erdrich continues her critically acclaimed Ojibwe chronicles with this new installment in the series. Returning to the story of Fleur Pillager, the strong-willed, mysterious Ojibwe heroine she introduced in the 1988 novel Tracks, Erdrich offers up another lyrical tale of loyalty, revenge and kinship. Traveling to Minneapolis from her beloved North Dakota, Fleur is searching for the man who stole and then laid waste to her tribal land. She finds the person she is looking for an invalid named John James Mauser ensconced in a fancy mansion presided over by his haughty wife, Placide. Fleur takes a job in the house as a laundress in hopes of having the opportunity to murder Mauser. Instead, she seduces him. Later, Fleur gives birth to their autistic child and takes over the household. But in the end, she feels lonely and burdened and turns to alcohol to ease her wounds. Fleur eventually returns with her son to the reservation and stakes a final claim to her land. In classic Erdrich style, the novel is narrated in turn by various characters, including Nanapush, Fleur's grandfather and his wife, Margaret, and an Indian-hater named Polly Elizabeth, who is Mauser's sister-in-law. The book provides a fascinating look at Ojibwe customs and the inevitable clash of cultures that ensues as the Indians fight to keep their native traditions alive in a predominantly white world. Readers will welcome this return by Erdrich to familiar territory and unforgettable characters.
A reading group guide is available online at www.harpercollins.com.