Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Four Souls: A Review

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
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.

I have to be upfront in saying that Louise Erdrich has long been my favorite author, and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to the publication of a new novel. “Four Souls” did not disappoint me. Rather than having a simple plot, Louise Erdrich and “Four Souls” tells a story of Fleur Pillager, of revenge (in many forms), of love, and Erdrich continues to craft out a world that feels very real. Each volume only serves to add to the richness and the color of The Little No Horse Reservation and the characters which inhabit and intersect with it. This is a very lyrical (and perhaps spiritual) story and while it may not be the type of story that every reader is looking for, it is one that I love.

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