This book was so haunting. I am so torn over this book. The writing is so beautiful and yet there are truly disturbing elements in this story. When I first read the book I felt angry because hope was continually stripped away from the characters lives. But this story has endured in my mind more clearly than any other book. My reaction was so strong and long lasting that I came to realize that this story really touched me, and will always be with me.
I didn't plan to read this book, but read the reviews and decided to give it a try before someone requested it from my inventory. What a wonderful surprise. I won't be letting this one go. Rich language, beautifully crafted, what a storyteller Erdrich is. I'll be ordering another copy to share with family.
Erlich's "The Master Butchers Singing Club" is a beautifully written book full of characters that lift off the pages as real and vivid. There are twists and turns in the underlying mysteries. I stayed up late several nights reading this one. History, romance, adventure, and family saga all rolled up into one. The story quickly moves from Germany to North Dakota and has two central characters--Fidelis from Germany and Delphine from the states. He comes to make his fortune and raise a family. She is a loving, industrious person trying to rise above an alcoholic father and mysterious past.
Fidelis Waldvogel survives WWI as a German sniper, recovers at home and then sets out to the home of Eva the girlfriend of his best friend Johannes who died in combat. Fidelis means to inform Eva of her lover's death but ends up marrying her, fathering Johannes's unborn child, and three other sons including twins.
Fidelis emigrates to America, sets up his butcher shop and then sends for Eva and his sister Tante. Eva befriends Delphine, who is just as much a main character as Fidelis is in this book. Delphine has a mysterious background, and a best friend Clarisse the town undertaker.
Louise Erdrich is a master at creating living breathing characters, and I would have given this book more stars if more of these great characters were given the attention and ending I felt they each deserved. There were so many great themes and plot lines in this book -- great first loves, the American dream and allegiance to the Mother Land, marriages of convenience that blossom into true love, surrogate love... Maybe The Master Butchers Singing Club should have been 3 separate, more complete books.
At its end I was left with an appreciation of the writing, sympathy for lots of characters, but also aggravatingly unanswered questions like: How did Clarisse get syphilis? Why didn't bff's Clarisse and Delphine talk truthfully to each other about their relationships? How could Sherriff Hock have a case against Clarisse if he was the one who ripped her dress apart?
"The Master Butchers Singing Club" is a very interesting chronicle of related and unrelated characters. The characters' lives tangle together in an interesting time and place. Very lush prose and descriptive writing. Some of the characters are a bit strange but you feel drawn in by the story. An interesting read!
In the past year, I have read only three books which totally held my attention and fascinated me. One was The Master Butchers Singing Club (the other two were Ahab's Wife and Water for Elephants). This novel by Louise Erdich takes place between WWI and WWII and the post-war years and is the story of a German immigrant, Fidelis and his family after WWI who move to a small town in North Dakota. Once settled, he and his wife Eva and their sons become fast friends with a local woman, Delphine Watzks who has also had a difficult adjustment to life in this small town. When Eva dies, Delphine and Fidelis marry and she raises his sons. The stoic and emotionless Fidelis seems a difficult man to love because of his aloofness. The only time he is able to demonstrate any zest for life is when he is interacting with his singing club. Delphine has led a mysterious life and much of it has been wasted on her drunken father, and yet she is able to make the effort to show warmth and love to her new family of men. This is a truly wonderful book. I could not put it down. Genny
An excellent story full of interesting characters. A must read-- as Louise Erdrich spins a page turning story about immigrants and Native Americans in the northern mid-west during the early to mid 20th century.
This was a pretty good book - not my favorite of hers, but a nice, wide-sweeping story of Germans in America from WWI to the 1950s. I really did enjoy reading it. A lot happened but it did feel more like being told a story than really experiencing it. Still, it was an interesting read, though quite sad. The ending twist was quite a surprise. I just wish that there had been a little more happiness in it...
Along with "The Last REport on the Miracles at Little No Horse" this is one of my favorite Louise Erdrich books. You are sucked into the lives of the characters and the love and dedication between the female characters. One difference between this book and the other Erdrich books, is there is really no connecting of the characters of this book and her other books. This is not a fault, only that I have found I want to read all her books to see how the characters between the books are connected.
My impression of this book is WOW. It's loaded with intriging characters who are fascinating and real. The author's ability to evoke emotion and care for her characters is unparalleled. I couldn't put it down.
There was enough mystery and emotion to keep you wanting to turn the page. The author is very descriptive, I could clearly see the characters in my mind. It felt dark to me, in that there is alot of death and sadness in the story. I was left wanting more of the bits of happiness/humor or some sort of closer for my favorite characters throughout.
I gave this book a high rating because it captured my interest and held it for the duration. It gives us an insight into a family which arrives upon the streets of NY from Germany and travels to N Dakota to set up a Butcher's shop in a small town with the father, an exGerman soldier, starting a singing club. The family's association with people from the area form unbreakable bonds as the family works diligently to find success during the period between WWI and WWII. The reader will appreciate accurate history, and basic human emotions tugging at the minds of the characters which mesh into a very good story. I enjoyed it and at times found I could not put it down.
This was fantastic, and I'm not usually much of a Louise Erdrich fan. Maybe because this was based on a member of her own family, but her characters are vibrant and alive, and the story made my brain fizz with delight. I've recommended this book to everyone I know who has even the slightest interest in books. It's that good.
Kari B. reviewed The Master Butchers Singing Club on
What a cast of characters! What surprises! This book was masterfully written and I kept thinking about it for days after reading it. I didn't know whether to laugh out loud or cry! My book discussion group plans to discuss it in November.
Very absorbing story with characters to care about. Erdrich is so complete in her characterzations, her descriptions of places, events, people, relationships. Her prose is so lyrical. It's one of those I will probably read again someday. I agree with reviewers who say it's "Emotionally powerful, richly detailed..." "...poignant in the mysteries it evokes..." and "Intimate and epic, tender and violent..." (from Minneapolis Star Tribune, L.A Times Book Review & People.)
Beautifully crafted characters who bring this story to you in three dimensions. When I read it is to travel and meet new people. It's the perfect way to experience the world outside my personal universe. For me it isn't about how things are written. It is about where I'm taken by the story how much fun the journey is.
This book took me to a dusty upper Midwest, Germany and two wars. It covered the years my parents survived and were molded by. Delphine is forever transformed by a world of her own making. She is the ultimate survivor of life's constant obstacles.
I hadn't read any Louise Erdrich in years and am gratefully hearing the butchers ð¤ After a day of very hard work putting food on the tables of the townspeople. This is a tale of a few specific people but it paints situations and individuals and communities brilliantly. Talent to bring an entirely world alive is rare, but when writing in a historical setting it is critical. Current day assumptions must be suspended or the story will be tainted by the reader. Erdrich leaves no room for such mistakes with her rich work.
I really enjoyed this book - it was very interesting. However, it was also very sad. At every turn something terrible was happening. However, much of the book takes place during the Great Depression and times of war which of course was a somber time. Regardless of the somewhat depressing nature of this book, it does have a lot about love and family and contain bits of humor.