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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: February 2010 ISBN: 9780061953637
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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.”

    Booklist

  • 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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sally Goyette | 1/19/2014

    " Well written and moves fast but I found it depressing. Irene is married to a famous artist, Gil, who paints her nude. They have a volatile marriage. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle Peters | 1/11/2014

    " Very absorbing and intense. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vern | 1/9/2014

    " Great book...but sad. Louise Erdrich is just such a great writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lyra | 12/23/2013

    " This was not a feel good book. A harsh portrayal of a disintegrating marriage. But captivating and beautifully written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tina Hvitfeldt | 12/11/2013

    " Insightful account of a marriage going wrong. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 KellyWells | 12/2/2013

    " Sad and thoughtful and clear "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista | 9/10/2013

    " I read this book while waiting for this author's new book to come out (The Round House) ... I really like her writing! Deep characters... thoughtful "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 6/11/2013

    " As always with Erdrich, beautifully written. But the story line is different from her other novels, my guess is more personally based viz-a-viz her native american ancestral base. It's a tough but rewarding read, not for everyone. Bottom line, I loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marge | 4/12/2013

    " Erdrich is an author that gets deeply into the characters and allows the reader to share the feelings. The husband and wife of this family are having their issues and how will it be resolved and what will be the impact on the children. Very well written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gwendolyn | 12/4/2012

    " She's a great writer. Depressing book! Just awful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 11/22/2012

    " After a long lyrical read, the ending just happens. Not my favorite. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David Culver | 11/7/2012

    " Interesting format for the story telling, but that's about it. I found the characters very dry and everything repetitive to the point of no longer mattering. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie Angel | 9/25/2012

    " A gripping story--wheels within wheels of interlocking neurotic dependencies, artistic husband exploiting his wife in paintings,did't like the main characters that much--she surely can write, though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristine | 8/23/2012

    " A dark look at obsession within a marriage. Not for the faint of heart. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Eden | 5/18/2012

    " Another book I had to put down before finishing...there were no quotation marks, which made it nearly impossible to tell who was saying what. I didn't enjoy the author's voice, and was shocked to see how many books she'd written prior to this one! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shelly | 1/12/2012

    " It was good but sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeanette | 12/16/2011

    " This book was really different than I expected. I was thinking fluff, light reading. Well, It's not difficult but is downright suspenseful toward the end, and a bit dark. These are people I don't know, and am not sure I like. Still, definitely gripping enough to keep me reading. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Molly | 5/24/2011

    " This was disappointing to me as I am a huge Erdrich fan. It was very depressing really, from start to finish. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cornelia | 5/17/2011

    " I didn't want to put this book down- Great writing! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stef | 5/17/2011

    " This is a beautiful, moving, disturbing portrait of a marriage and a family. Erdrich absolutely nails the family dynamic in so few words and gestures. It's so clear that she is a master writer and storyteller. Emotional and fast paced. Great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Courtney | 5/15/2011

    " A depressing book about a decaying marriage (Gil and Irene). Too dark for me to relate to. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 jo | 5/15/2011

    " a review when i'll recover. this book nearly killed me. i didn't know louise erdrich had such a devastating book in her. yikes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brenda | 5/9/2011

    " I enjoy Erdrich's writing always, but I found this story more dark, and less redemptive than I would have enjoyed. However I realize this was her purpose, not necessarily to entertain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michele | 5/2/2011

    " Brutal story. The characters range from flawed to just downright bad. But I could not put the book down--had to read it through to the bitter end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eli | 4/28/2011

    " Actually finished this very shortly after starting it, just noticed I hadn't updated, and now can't remember much but that it was as well-written and wrenching as I've come to expect from LE, but the twist at the end felt a bit contrived. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katherine | 4/25/2011

    " If you like dark and depressing, this would be a good read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara | 4/16/2011

    " The darkness of this story was unrelenting. Well told, but sad beyond belief. "

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