A powerful new novel of from one of America's most important and entertaining writers In 1918, Fidelis walks home from the Great War to a Germany broken and defeated. He finds himself inexplicably drawn to the fiancee of his dead best friend and they marry but, knowing he cannot make his fortune here, Fidelis heads for America. When he leaves, ...
A powerful new novel of from one of America's most important and entertaining writers In 1918, Fidelis walks home from the Great War to a Germany broken and defeated. He finds himself inexplicably drawn to the fiancee of his dead best friend and they marry but, knowing he cannot make his fortune here, Fidelis heads for America. When he leaves, 'The inside pockets of his father's suit held all he needed.' He leaves behind his family of master butchers, but not the skills he has learned from them and in America his sausages gradually become legendary...Moving to small-town America, he is soon joined by his wife and son, opens a deli and life seems to be perfect. But there are always the locals to contend with and when they meet Delphine and Cyprian, two eccentric travelling circus performers, things begin to get interesting. There is the problem of the unresolved dead bodies discovered rotting in the basement of Delphine's father's house, for one. And then there is the rivalry over the local singing groups -- will Fidelis be able to prove his superiority? Spanning two continents, this epic look at post-war immigrants' America is Louise Erdrich at her engrossing best. Warm, human, funny, deeply sad Erdrich's cast of oddball characters are infinitely loveable. The Master Butchers Singing Club will delight the legions of existing Erdrich fans but is also sure to amaze and entrance those coming to her work for the first time.
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If you are from Minnesota or the Dakotas you may find it interesting because of the local upper midwest context and its view of early settlers point of view and because it is a Minnesota author.
Jun 15, 2009
Really liked it!
I really liked this beautifully written book. It had great characters that made the story seem very realistic.
Jan 22, 2008
I absolutely loved this book and found it to be almost impossible to put down. The characters are richly drawn and played upon their stage. The pages turn fast when reading this novel. Delphine was my favorite character along with Markus. Their interaction was as if they really were mother and son. Fidelis was a bit one dimensional but overall interesting. This story itself conveyed to me the starkness of it's time setting and gave a good look at North Dakota from a different angle than is normally given for this state. This book gives an accurate description of the kind of people who came and settled this land and persevered. The story very much interested me and I have recommended it to several friends who I know will enjoy it as much as I did. Ms. Erdrich is a very talented writer and I intend to read more of her books.
Oct 25, 2007
Enjoyed the ride
I read this as one of my book club's selections, otherwise I would probably never have picked up this title to read. I enjoyed the colorful, diverse cast of characters, was at times surprised by events and situations, intrigued by the proseful descriptions, but went willingly along for the ride. Some in book club faulted the author for the easy acceptance of delphine by eva and their instant bond, but having made instant connections in life myself, i found their relationship believable. others found fault in the fact the master butcher's singing club really had nothing to do with the plot. this is true, a waste of a good title! a good read, not a great book, with some loose ends loosely tied in the end.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-12-23 All of the virtues of Erdrich's best works-her lyrical precision, bleakly beautiful North Dakota settings, deft interweaving of characters and subplots, and haunting evocation of love and its attendant mysteries-are on full display in this superb novel. Drawing on her paternal German ancestry, Erdrich tells the story of Fidelis Waldvogel, a WWI sniper and master butcher with a "talent for stillness" and for singing. After marrying Eva, the pregnant fiance of his best friend, who was killed in the war, he emigrates to America. Settling in Argus, N.Dak., he and Eva establish a butcher shop known for its Old World expertise and for housing Fidelis's beloved singing club. The focus then shifts to Delphine Watzka, a performer in a traveling vaudeville act, who has recently returned to Argus to care for her alcoholic father, Roy. Roy's health problems pale beside his legal problems: the predatory Sheriff Hock is investigating how the Chavers family came to perish in Roy's basement. Not willing to abandon Roy, Delphine and her vaudeville partner, Cyprian Lazarre, a homosexual Ojibwa, set up house in Argus, where Delphine soon befriends Eva and develops a disturbing attraction to Fidelis. Erdrich's plot spans 36 years, covering two world wars, several violent deaths, near-deaths, illnesses, accidents and crimes-"awful things occurring to other humans," but somehow not to Delphine, who draws on reserves of toughness and compassion to sustain herself as well as the surprisingly vulnerable Waldvogel family. Some readers may be disappointed by the trajectory of the Fidelis-Delphine love story, which is consummated without quite the fireworks display Erdrich seems to promise, but many others will be deeply moved by the complicated romance. With its lush prose, jolts of wisdom and historical sweep, this story is as rich and resonant as any Erdrich has told. BOMC alternate selection; 6-city author tour. (Feb. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-05 Erdrich's quiet, gentle voice is so soft, it's as if she's carefully reading a bedtime story. Yet this novel would not put anyone to sleep. Woven with intrigue, romance, death, sex and humor, it's an emotionally complex tale of European immigrants who have settled in the fictional town of Erdrich's previous novels, Argus, N.Dak. Bordering on magical realism, this marvelous yarn introduces a world of rich, expansive imagery and an abundance of memorably compelling characters. There's Delphine, who acts as a human table for her lover, Cyprian, a lesbian Ojibwa balancing artist. Delphine cares for her father, Roy, an alcoholic accused of neglectfully murdering an entire family. And then there's Fidelis, a former sniper for the German army who is now the singing butcher of the title. Although some breaks in cadence occur throughout the reading-it seems almost as if Erdrich is seeing the material for the first time-her soft style gradually blends with the story and, rather than seeming inappropriate, becomes invisible. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 23, 2002). (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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