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Four Souls Kindle Edition

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Length: 240 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fleur Pillager, one of Erdrich's most intriguing characters, embarks on a path of revenge in this continuation of the Ojibwe saga that began with Tracks. As a young woman, Fleur journeys from her native North Dakota to avenge the theft of her land. In Minneapolis, she locates the grand house of the thief: one John James Mauser, whom she plans to kill. But Fleur is patient and stealthy; she gets herself hired by Mauser's sister-in-law, Polly Elizabeth, as a laundress. Polly acts as the household manager, tending to the invalid Mauser as well as her sister, the flaky and frigid Placide. Fleur upends this domestic arrangement by ensnaring Mauser, who marries her in a desperate act of atonement. Revenge becomes complicated as Fleur herself suffers under its weight: she descends into alcoholism and gives birth to an autistic boy. In Erdrich's trademark style, chapters are narrated by alternating characters—in this case Polly Elizabeth, as well as Nanapush, the elderly man from Tracks, and his wife, Margaret. (Nanapush and Margaret's relationship, and the jealousies and revenge that ensue, play out as a parallel narrative.) More so than in other of Erdrich's books, this tale feels like an insider's experience: without the aid of jacket copy, new readers will have trouble feeling a sure sense of place and time. And Fleur herself—though fascinating—remains elusive. Nevertheless, the rich detail of Indian culture and community is engrossing, and Erdrich is deft (though never heavy-handed) in depicting the struggle to keep this culture alive in the face of North American "progress." The themes of fruitless revenge and redemption are strong here, especially when combined with the pull of her lyrical prose; Erdrich may not ensnare many new readers, but she will certainly satisfy her already significant audience.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Erdrich has been universally hailed as one of the most talented writers of her generation, one who has captured the social, cultural, spiritual, and magical nature of the Ojibwe people and the rural landscape of North Dakota. Most critics agree that in the tragicomic Four Souls, narrated by three people, Erdrich is in top form, her magical realism and lyrical storytelling as vibrant and powerful as they were in the first books in this series, Love Medicine and Tracks. Only The New York Times takes Erdrich to task—not for her writing, but for the story itself, which seems “predictable and trite.” Other critics overlooked these faults in favor of Erdrich’s masterful descriptions, characterizations, and lyricism.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 744 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Publication Date: October 13, 2009
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,939 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of twelve novels as well as volumes of poetry, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her debut novel, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent novel, The Plague of Doves, a New York Times bestseller, received the highest praise from Philip Roth, who wrote, "Louise Erdrich's imaginative freedom has reached its zenith--The Plague of Doves is her dazzling masterpiece." Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Fleur Pillager is one of Louise Erdrich's legendary characters. Fleur is legendary within the world Erdrich has created as well as being an iconic character of Erdrich's work as a whole. "Four Souls" continues the story of Fleur that was begun in Erdrich's second novel "Tracks". Having lost her land to the white developers when Margaret Rushes Bear chose to use the money to save her own son Nector's piece of the land rather than Fleur's, Fleur Pillager walked away from the reservation. She walked until she was exhausted, and then she kept walking until she reached the Cities. She stopped, as if she was drawn, in front of a house that was hiring a cleaning woman. The house belonged to John James Mauser (a family name you should recognize from "Tales of Burning Love"). Mauser is the developer who purchased Fleur's land and she seeks to exact revenge on Mauser. Fleur's revenge is not the typical revenge where the person is quickly killed. No. Fleur's revenge has Fleur become part of the household so that she can build up Mauser enough that he can sufficiently know what he is going to lose when Fleur decides it is time to take her revenge.
The novel is narrated by two characters. The first is the trickster, Nanapush. Nanapush tells the story of Fleur as he knows it (at no time is Fleur the narrator the story), so as he tells Fleur's story, he also tells his own. The other narrator is Polly Elizabeth Gheen. Polly Elizabeth is the sister of Mauser's wife. She is able to tell more of the story of Fleur's arrival to the household and what the impact there was. She also reveals a bit more of her family's history and that of Mauser's history. In Erdrich's world, everything is interconnected.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Smith on August 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read most of the author's works and while I would not say this is my favorite, I have to say that she has matured so much as an author over the years that this is a must read book. I particularly like how she shares imagery and concepts in this book without feeling the need to explain them to the non-Anishinaabe audience, and potentially interrupting the poetry of the work itself. - It was amazing how she brought back to mind things I knew and had forgotten, simply through the force of her writing. The greatest impact for me was the effect the book had even 4 days later - the themes of this book are both universal and incredible. Thank you for such an outstanding book!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There is no revenge like success, as the saying goes, and Fleur Pillager is out for both. She adopts her mother's name, Four Souls, and sets foot on a mission to seek restitution from the robber baron who has stripped bare the Minnesota forests her Ojibwe ancestors called home.

As the scheme to avenge her family unfolds, Fleur proves to be no ordinary woman. She is so complex, in fact, that it takes several narrators to tell her story, a device that makes FOUR SOULS a fascinating and enigmatic tale of the myths, sorrows and passions of a vanishing civilization.

There is old Nanapush, tribal elder, who observes as Fleur launches her private incursion against the ailing World War I veteran, John James Mauser, lumber baron and social scion of Minneapolis society. Polly Elizabeth, Mr. Mauser's sister-in-law, who runs the household, hires Fleur as a housemaid and laundress. She seems efficient and is seemingly everywhere and nowhere, all at once. Little does Polly Elizabeth know how Fleur will change the lives of all within the walls of the Mauser mansion.

Fleur discovers that her nemesis is far too ill to thoroughly appreciate his demise at her hand, so she sets out to cure him of odd maladies from World War I wounds. Her tender mercies lead instead to marriage to Mauser, and as Polly Elizabeth says, "Nothing in the look of her and the ignorant silence told me she could possibly end up connected to me." Nor could Polly Elizabeth or John James Mauser ever imagine where that connection would lead.

FOUR SOULS evolves slowly and as magically as the mists on a summer morning pond. Louise Erdrich, who wrote the bestseller TRACKS, which is a precursor to FOUR SOULS, seems to know the minds, voices and ways of the Ojibwe Indians.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Thelma C. Johnson on July 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There are very few novels written about Indians with actual Indian authors. I believe Louise Erdrich to be the best. She not only tells a story that is witty, powerful, and compelling, but she draws the reader into the mind and culture of Indians, especially of the Chippewa of whom she writes. Fred Manfred and Oliver LaFarge, to mention two, have written great novels about Indians; and certainly Tony Hillerman has given us insight into the religion and life styles of the Southwestern Indians, especially the Navajos, but these writers are still outsiders. Erdrich is lyrical and brilliant and tells her story as an insider without bias or sentimentality. This book and others of hers should be required reading by every student of American History. Facts about treaties and population may be interesting in their own way, but they don't say anything about the soul of a people.
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