You're not in Kansas anymore…

Love Medicine

Today I come to you with a great read: Love Medicine (1984) by wonderful American author Louise Erdrich (1954-). It is a beautiful and amazing novel about members of a (fictional) Chippewa society in North Dakota. The publishing year can be disputed though, as a revised version came out in 1993, and another revision was published in 2009 (I have only read the 1993 version). The main differences between the editions are that chapters have been moved around, added or removed. The fluent nature of the story becomes apparent through these revisions, and it brings into focus the everchanging truths of its characters.

The novel opens with the death of June Morrissey, and we learn details of her life through her niece, Albertine. We then go further back in time and are told of an old love triangle which still affects the people involved and their numerous children; stories are told about the various larger-than-life characters that inhabit, or have inhabited, the reservation and we see how events from the past still determine the lives of those left to deal with the consequences.

Each chapter is told by different narrators, and various members of the tribe have their say. Sometimes, you are presented with several versions of the same events, or the narrators add backstory to, or describe the aftermath of, each other’s tales. Beautifully written, with interesting characters and intriguing storylines, Love Medicine is one of my favourite books. Erdrich has also published other novels revolving around the same community with mostly the same cast of characters (although different characters hold focus in the novels), including Tracks (1988), set prior to the events of Love Medicine, and The Bingo Palace (1994) which mainly revolves around events in the wake of the first two novels. I thouroughly recommend all of them, and everything else you may come across by this wonderful author.

Love, Mari

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