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Extended Audio Sample Shadow Tag: A Novel, by Louise Erdrich Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,541 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Louise Erdrich Narrator: Coleen Marlo Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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"Here is the most telling fact: you wish to possess me.

Here is another fact: I loved you and let you think you could."

When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary—hidden where Gil will find it—into a manipulative farce. Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, Shadow Tag is an eerily gripping read.

When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the nineteenth-century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife—work that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shocking—realizes that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career.

Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, at the beginning of the end.

As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies. In brilliantly controlled prose, Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A portrait of an ‘iconic’ marriage on its way to dissolution…Erdrich’s unbridled urgency yields startlingly original phrasing as well as flashes of blinding lucidity.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A masterpiece…a captivating work of fiction…exquisite…tightly focused…arresting…This profoundly tragic novel captures that lament in some of Erdrich’s most beautiful and urgent writing.”

    Washington Post

  • “Gripping…a hushed and haunting tale that chillingly and convincingly reflects the upper-middle-class American experience, not only the Native American one.”

    USA Today

  • “Clear, urgent, deep as a swift river…accomplishes the literary miracle of making a reader ravenous to finish it, while stinging with regret at how soon it must end.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Read this if: you’re looking for a well-written, well-told tale that is thought—and discussion—provoking.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “A page-turner…A most compelling novel.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Into this deeply personal novel about marriage, family and individual identity, Erdrich weaves broader questions about cause and effect in history...A small masterpiece of compelling, painfully moving fiction.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A fierce novel…raw…alive…vividly present…It marks a breakthrough for the author.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “A domestic drama that builds an almost thriller-like momentum…A novel as dark and tragic as it is difficult to put down.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • “An exquisite, character-driven tale…Its piercing insights into sex, family, and power are breathtaking…A masterfully concentrated and gripping novel of image and conquest, autonomy and love, inheritance and loss.”


  • Selected for the February 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2010 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Callie | 2/20/2014

    " I found this at a used bookstore and bought it because I was too cheap to buy a hardcover of Round House, which is what I am actually dying to read. This book only got me more excited to read Round House, I loved the children in this book and I loved how Erdrich doesn't hesitate to expose her women as complicated and pained people. The ending killed me, but I guess, that was kind of her point. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Joann | 2/9/2014

    " Louise Erdrich is amazing as usual. Love her books even though the images can be so depressing. Think of the stories for days after finishing. This book is about the love hate relationship of a couple and what it does to the family. Some historical info about the Mandan tribe. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Susan | 2/5/2014

    " Fast reading, dark, humorous. This book would make an excellent play. The first of Erdrich's books I've read, but will definitely read more now. The premise is, I think, intriguing: A woman keeps two diaries, one which she knows her husband is secretly reading and which she uses as a weapon in their destructive marriage. The other one, kept in a safe deposit box, is the truthful one. The novel is the story about their relationship and their personalities and the effect of both on them and their children. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Brenna | 2/2/2014

    " Violent, heartbreaking, and gut-wrenching. This was a hard book to read, but a really beautifully and carefully written one. I'm thankful that this book was a quick read, because I don't think I could have stood it for a long time. As it is, it will stay with me for a long time. "

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