18 February 2011

Imprint Friday: Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Harper Perennial. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

On Tuesday, I offered you a tease from Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag. This intense novel examines marriage, trust, and families and is almost impossible to put down. Here's the publisher's summary:

When Irene America discovers that her artist 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 marriage, while turning her Red Diary—hidden where Gil will find it—into a manipulative charade. As Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children, their home becomes a place of increasing violence and secrecy. And Irene drifts into alcoholism, moving ever closer to the ultimate destruction of a relationship filled with shadowy need and strange ironies.

Alternating between Irene's twin journals and an unflinching third-person narrative, Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and the anatomy of one family's struggle for survival and redemption.
I have been a fan of Erdrich's for many years, and Shadow Tag does not disappoint. I love the evocative nature her writing and I especially love the truth of her words: "Women are always swimming trustingly toward men! We're as curious as otters when we should be wary as snakes." The undercurrent of bitterness mixed with love and overlain by manipulation and desperation is evident almost immediately. Yet, despite the painful realities of the novel, the surprises, shocks, and emotional entanglements keep you in the moment of the story instead of dragging you under.

Here are some other thoughts:
  • Dawn at 5 Minutes for Books writes: "I was impressed with the quality of writing, the insistent tone, and the way that the characters came alive through the author’s unique-feeling prose."
  • Melissa from The Betty and Boo Chronicles says: "Erdrich gives her reader two very strong, well-defined characters and prose that glides off the page, but the stark pain that is evident throughout this novel doesn't give the reader many reasons to smile."
  • Ron Charles at The Washington Post says "If you haven't lived through this sad story yourself, you know someone who has. And of course it's the plot of a library's worth of domestic novels, but Erdrich distinguishes her own version in a variety of exquisite ways."
Shadow Tag was an Indie Next Pick for February 2010, the month of the hardcover release. Book clubs will find the online reading guide to be helpful.

Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.

Shadow Tag at an Indie
Shadow Tag at Powell's
Shadow Tag at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780061536106


Beth Kephart 2/18/11, 6:09 AM  

I have read so much of Erdrich and loved in particular her early works. How does this compare to her more recent novels, for you?

Beth F 2/18/11, 7:55 AM  

@Beth: This is definitely different from her other novels, but totally absorbing.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) 2/18/11, 9:39 AM  

Wow, this looks really good but really intense. I haven't read any of her previous stuff. Can I start with this one? Or should I go back and read her earlier stuff first?

Heather 2/18/11, 9:41 AM  

I've only read two of Louise's books, but loved both of them. I do have more of hers on my reading list.

Beth F 2/18/11, 9:46 AM  

@Pam: all of Erdrich's books are standalone (as far as I know), so dive right in with whichever title you want.

Julie P. 2/18/11, 11:31 AM  

I've never read her. Maybe I'll start with this one.

bermudaonion 2/18/11, 3:25 PM  

I've never read her work, but boy, does this sound fascinating!

Lisa@ButteryBooks 2/18/11, 9:29 PM  

This definitely sounds like an engaging read. I think I will be reading this one. Thanks for the review!

Athira 2/18/11, 10:54 PM  

I'm reading this one next, and I really can't wait to start. I haven't read any of her books - this one has me really excited!

Rebecca Rasmussen 2/19/11, 11:17 AM  

I love Louise Erdrich so much! So SO much!

Dorte H 2/19/11, 2:49 PM  

Two versions of Irene´s story - I like that idea.

BookGeek 2/19/11, 2:52 PM  

Now this is a story I would like to read. I love the concept of two different diaries. I can only imagine the secrets, and the pain of keeping them even from yourself, and how it could fracture a marriage. I have not read any of this author's works, but this is a likely choice for me.

Tribute Books 2/21/11, 12:11 PM  

Very interesting premise of the two journals...

Unknown 2/22/11, 1:25 PM  

I haven't read anything by this author before but based on your review I'm interested. It sounds like a very intense book.

Erica 2/28/11, 12:14 PM  

Anyone who hasn't read Erdrich before can definitely start with this one--I think this and Master Butcher's Singing Club are the two most accessible ones.

Jennifer 3/3/11, 10:26 AM  

I am a huge Erdrich fan and am super excited to read this book. I remember hearing her talk about the book on NPR and thinking, I must get my hands on this book. I can't believe I haven't gotten around to reading it yet!

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