Louise Erdrich is a masterful writer. If you haven’t read any (or many) of her works, you are missing out. In the first sections of The Master Butchers Singing Club, I thought I knew the plot. (I don’t know about you, but I read a lot of books and can often pick out the plot quite early.) Yet, as I continued to read I realized the plot was nothing that I expected, and as usual I was pulled in by the precise and captivating language of Erdrich.
Around every corner loomed another twist and turn. We travel with Fidelis, a stoic German eager to make a life in America with his suitcase full of knives and the butchering skills passed down to him from his father. He’s married his best friend’s wife after his death in WWI. Making a new life isn’t easy but Fidelis is determined to succeed. The struggles of his life are both unexpected and enthralling.
From there, we are swept away by Delphine—a woman desperate to leave her hometown but pulled reluctantly back to care for her alcoholic father. Delphine brings her lover–a man she suspects may be more attracted to men than women. She befriends Eva, the wife of Fidelis, and is drawn into their life. The friendship that blossoms endures through tragedy and death.
This is the kind of book you can’t put down once you’re in it. You will be thinking about these characters long after you’ve finished the book. Erdrich explores so many aspects of love in these relationships—its complications, duty, forcefulness, and haunting qualities—you can’t help but to leave this book without thinking about your own relationships. I highly recommend this book.