“Family stories repeat themselves in patterns and waves, generation to generation, across blood and time. Once the pattern is set, we go on replicating it.”—Louise Erdrich, The Antelope Wife
Rooted in the landscape of city life yet continually influenced by the power of the Ojibwa family, the intricacies of Ojibwa language, and religious belief, The Antelope Wife reflects the irrevocable patterns set in motion by certain fateful acts. It is a story of connections in which history, lust, contemporary urban Native American life, hand-me-down names, legends, and sacred myth combine.
Set in Minneapolis, originally an important trading center and hunting ground, and still a magnet for many native people from nearby reservations, the story travels back in time. It begins with a soldier who deserts the cavalry during a cruel raid on an Ojibwa village to chase a dog carrying a baby on a cradle board strung with breathtaking blue beads. Generations later, a fast-talking trader kidnaps a silent and graceful woman from a powwow.
In a haunting re-creation of a native tale, the woman is part antelope. Hunter and hunted change identities. The Antelope Wife changes people. Nothing is ever the same again for friends and family.
The intertwining themes of the story include tragic loss, confusions of passion, transformation, betrayals, revenge, a dog who is “almost soup,” and an obsession to re-create a perfect German cake, remembered from a taste decades earlier.
A mix of vibrant cultures and ideas, The Antelope Wife extends the branches of the families who populate Louise Erdrich’s earlier, award-winning novels, and once again, her unsentimental, unsparing writing and reading capture the Native American sense of despair, magic, and humor in an unforgettable audiobook.
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