Cover image for Four souls
Title:
Four souls
Author:
Erdrich, Louise.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
210 pages : 1 illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Sequel to: Tracks.
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.7 10.0 79890.
ISBN:
9780066209753
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Louise Erdrich comes a haunting novel that continues the rich and enthralling Ojibwe saga begun in her novel Tracks.

After taking her mother's name, Four Souls, for strength, the strange and compelling Fleur Pillager walks from her Ojibwe reservation to the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. She is seeking restitution from and revenge on the lumber baron who has stripped her tribe's land. But revenge is never simple, and her intentions are complicated by her dangerous compassion for the man who wronged her.


Author Notes

Karen Louise Erdrich was born on June 7, 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where both of her parents were employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Erdrich graduated from Dartmouth College in 1976 with an AB degree, and she received a Master of Arts in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University in 1979.

Erdrich published a number of poems and short stories from 1978 to 1982. In 1981 she married author and anthropologist Michael Dorris, and together they published The World's Greatest Fisherman, which won the Nelson Algren Award in 1982. In 1984 she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Love Medicine, which is an expansion of a story that she had co-written with Dorris. Love Medicine was also awarded the Virginia McCormick Scully Prize (1984), the Sue Kaufman Prize (1985) and the Los Angeles Times Award for best novel (1985).

In addition to her prose, Erdrich has written several volumes of poetry, a textbook, children's books, and short stories and essays for popular magazines. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for professional excellence, including the National Magazine Fiction Award in 1983 and a first-prize O. Henry Award in 1987. Erdrich has also received the Pushcart Prize in Poetry, the Western Literacy Association Award, the 1999 World Fantasy Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2006. In 2007 she refused to accept an honorary doctorate from the University of North Dakota in protest of its use of the "Fighting Sioux" name and logo.

Erdrich's novel The Round House made the New York Times bestseller list in 2013. Her other New York Times bestsellers include Future Home of the Living God (2017).

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This small but incredibly rich chapter in Erdrich's ongoing Native American saga is a continuation of the story of the enigmatic Fleur Pillager, begun in Tracks (1988). Such are Erdrich's storytelling skills that even readers unfamiliar with that book will immediately be drawn into this novel. The decimation of Ojibwe land continues unabated, but the implacable Fleur has decided to exact revenge on one John James Mauser, who has built his wealth by acquiring Ojibwe land through underhanded tactics. She is hired on at his mansion as a laundress, but her plan suffers a setback when she learns that he is ill with a severe muscle disorder; she sets about curing him so that she can wreck him while he is in good condition, but in a bizarre twist, her relationship with Mauser takes a very different turn. Narrated in alternating chapters by aged and comical wise man Nanapush; his visionary, stubborn wife, Margaret; and Mauser's spinster sister-in-law, the novel holds as its central theme the process of transformation, as each character is drawn toward healing and love in the most astonishing fashion. Effortlessly moving between the sacred and the profane, between grotesquerie and transcendence, Erdrich continues to spin her unique and compelling fiction. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (July 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Erdrich continues the saga of Fleur Pillager. Look for a New Yorker excerpt. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Four Souls A Novel Chapter One The Roads Nanapush Fleur took the small roads, the rutted paths through the woods traversing slough edge and heavy underbrush, trackless, unmapped, unknown and always bearing east. She took the roads that the deer took, trails that hadn't a name yet and stopped abruptly or petered out in useless ditch. She took the roads she had to make herself, chopping alder and flattening reeds. She crossed fields and skirted lakes, pulled her cart over farmland and pasture, heard the small clock and shift of her ancestors' bones when she halted, spent of all but the core of her spirit. Through rain she slept beneath the cart's bed. When the sun shone with slant warmth she rose and went on, kept walking until she came to the iron road. The road had two trails, parallel and slender. This was the path she had been looking for, the one she wanted. The man who had stolen her trees took this same way. She followed his tracks. She nailed tin grooves to the wheels of her cart and kept going on that road, taking one step and then the next step, and the next. She wore her makizinan to shreds, then stole a pair of boots off the porch of a farmhouse, strangling a fat dog to do it. She skinned the dog, boiled and ate it, leaving only the bones behind, sucked hollow. She dug cattails from the potholes and roasted the sweet root. She ate mud hens and snared muskrats, and still she traveled east. She traveled until the iron road met up with another, until the twin roads grew hot from the thunder and lightning of so many trains passing and she had to walk beside. The night before she reached the city the sky opened and it snowed. The ground wasn't frozen and her fire kept her warm. She thought hard. She found a tree and under it she buried the bones and the clan markers, tied a red prayer flag to the highest branches, and then slept beneath the tree. That was the night she took her mother's secret name to herself, named her spirit. Four Souls, she was called. She would need the name where she was going. The next morning, Fleur pushed the cart into heavy bramble and piled brush over to hide it. She washed herself in ditch water, braided her hair, and tied the braids together in a loop that hung down her back. She put on the one dress she had that wasn't ripped and torn, a quiet brown. And the heavy boots. A blanket for a shawl. Then she began to walk toward the city, carrying her bundle, thinking of the man who had taken her land and her trees. She was still following his trail. Far across the fields she could hear the city rumbling as she came near, breathing in and out like a great sleeping animal. The cold deepened. The rushing sound of wheels in slush made her dizzy, and the odor that poured, hot, from the doorways and windows and back porches caused her throat to shut. She sat down on a rock by the side of the road and ate the last pinch of pemmican from a sack at her waist. The familiar taste of the pounded weyass, the dried berries, nearly brought tears to her eyes. Exhaustion and longing filled her. She sang her mother's song, low, then louder, until her heart strengthened, and when she could feel her dead around her, gathering, she straightened her back. She kept on going, passed into the first whitened streets and on into the swirling heart of horns and traffic. The movement of mechanical, random things sickened her. The buildings upon buildings piled together shocked her eyes. The strange lack of plant growth confused her. The people stared through her as though she were invisible until she thought she was, and walked more easily then, just a cloud reflected in a stream. Below the heart of the city, where the stomach would be, strange meadows opened made of stuff clipped and green. For a long while she stood before a leafless box hedge, upset into a state of wonder at its square shape, amazed that it should grow in so unusual a fashion, its twigs gnarled in smooth planes. She looked up into the bank of stone walls, of brick houses and wooden curlicued porches that towered farther uphill. In the white distance one mansion shimmered, light glancing bold off its blank windowpanes and turrets and painted rails. Fleur blinked and passed her hand across her eyes. But then, behind the warm shadow of her fingers, she recovered her inner sight and slowly across her face there passed a haunted, white, wolf grin. Sometimes an old man doesn't know how he knows things. He can't remember where knowledge came from. Sometimes it is clear. Fleur told me all about this part of her life some years after she lived it. For the rest, though, my long talks with Father Damien resulted in a history of the great house that Fleur grinned up at that day. I pieced together the story of how it was formed. The priest and I sat long on the benches set against my little house, or at a slow fire, or even inside at the table carefully arranged on the linoleum floor over which Margaret got so particular. During those long conversations Father Damien and I exchanged rumors, word, and speculation about Fleur's life and about the great house where she went. What else did we have to talk about? The snow fell deep. The same people lived in the same old shacks here. Over endless games of cards or chess we amused ourselves by wondering about Fleur Pillager. For instance, we guessed that she followed her trees and, from that, we grew convinced that she was determined to cut down the man who took them. She had lived among those oak and pine trees when their roots grew deep beneath her and their leaves thick above. Four Souls A Novel . Copyright © by Louise Erdrich. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Four Souls: A Novel by Louise Erdrich All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.