Tales of Burning Love

by Louise Erdrich

Hardcover, 1996




New York : HarperCollins, 1996


Fiction. Literature. HTML: "Romantic love, religious ecstasy, the strange mixture of devotion and misunderstanding that runs through families�??all are steeped together. The result is a rich and fragrant infusion. . . . [Written] with great poignancy and charm." �?? New York Times Book Review A darkly humorous novel of wild romance and heartbreak set against a raging North Dakota blizzard as five Native American women bond over their shared connection to one man, from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Louise Erdrich Five very different women have married Jack Mauser, a charming, infuriating schemer whose passions never survive the long haul. Now, stranded in a North Dakota blizzard, they have come face-to-face�??and each has an astonishing story to tell. Huddling for warmth, they pass the endless night by remembering the stories of how each came to love, marry, and ultimately move beyond Jack. At times painful, at times heartbreaking, and oftentimes comic, their tales become the adhesive that holds them together�??in their love for Jack and in their lives as women. With her characteristic powers of observation and luminescent prose, Louise Erdrich brings these women's unforgettable tales to life in a tour de force from one of the most formidable American writers at work… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member LibroLindsay
It took me a few years to read this book. It is not the punch-in-the-stomach Erdrich read as most other of her books. There are moments of brilliance, but it takes a bit of patience to get to each in this one. Still, she's one of the few writers that give me pause while reading to admire how much
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she fiercely loves her characters. Even if this isn't my favorite, Erdrich still has the main line to my soul.
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LibraryThing member bookishbunny
This was different from what I expected. I really enjoyed it. It was optisitic without the over-sentimentality into which so many 'relationship' based stories fall.
LibraryThing member llm822
Another great book by Louise Erdrich. Lots of storylines from previous books converge and are seen here from new perspectives. Love it!!
LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
This book is a slow burn but a fascinating entry into Erdrich's Love Medicine series. You will certainly want to read The Bingo Palace first, as this acts as a quasi-sequel. Like, the novel can stand alone, but it works best as a part of the Love Medicine saga that Erdrich has crafted. Jack
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Mauser's former wives all have much to say and they spin out their tales in the middle of a deadly blizzard. It's a simple concept that almost doesn't work at the beginning, but totally does at the end.
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LibraryThing member Cariola
Depending on how you looks at it, Jack Mauser hasn't been lucky in love (or in much else, or that matter): he has been married five times. He met his first wife, June, in a bar and asked her to marry him that same night. Following an argument, June walked off into a snowstorm. It's hard to say
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whether she got lost or committed suicide, but Jack is haunted by the fact that he didn't follow her. Eleanor was an emotionally fragile self-proclaimed scholar who focused on saints and religious ecstasy and eventually retreated into a convent to conduct research and her own spirituality. He met his third wife, a dentist named Candace, when a toothache hit and dental reconstruction ensued. As with June, Jack met his fourth and much younger wife, Marliss, in a bar, where she was not a customer but a server. She was to become the mother of his only child. Dot, Jack's last wife, just may have been a bigamist, albeit unknowingly. Her husband was serving jail time, escaped, and disappeared following a small plane crash.

The first half of the book details events in Jack's life and the bare bones of each marriage. He started out working on his uncle's sunflower seed farm but eventually veered into construction, investing in a rather shady scheme to build a subdivision. He has had almost as much trouble with the law as with his wives. But the story really kicks off after his wives attend his funeral (even though there is no body) and they become stranded together, along with a hitchhiker, in a car in the middle of a dangerous North Dakota snow storm. We've heard Jack's side of the story; now we are about to hear theirs. And despite many disappointments, each woman still loves Jack in her own way.

There's a lot more to the story (or "tales," as the title calls them), but I'll leave all the details and resolutions for you to discover. As usual, Erdrich's characters are all Native Americans, and a few that are familiar in earlier books reappear. Overall, I enjoyed the novel, which at times was sad but more often very funny. My only criticism is that it seemed unnecessarily long, and my attention often wandered. But I'm glad I didn't give up on Tales of Burning Love.
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Minnesota Book Awards (Finalist — Novel — 1997)



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