Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich is at once a disturbing, yet fascinating glimpse into a marriage and family that is falling apart.
Upon first impressions, one would think that Irene and Gil have the perfect life. Gil is a successful painter, they have three beautiful children and a wonderful home. Yet appearances can be very deceiving as under the veneer of this perfection lurks an incredibly dysfunctional marriage and family.
Our first hint of trouble hits us bang on with the very first sentence: I have two diaries now. Irene suspects Gil of reading her private thoughts so she goes to the bank, gets a safety deposit box, and starts another diary with her true thoughts in it. All this might be ok but what she does with the diary at home really isn’t. She starts writing in it things that she knows will affect Gil negatively and very likely drive him crazy. Anything that Irene knows Gil is insecure about where she is concerned is what she uses to send him to the edges of insanity, hoping in the end that he will leave them.
Irene met Gil when she was young and has always been his model. The subject matter of these pictures is at times very disturbing. As times goes on and Irene falls more and more out of love with Gil, the thrill of being an artist’s muse leaves her feeling nothing but cold. In effect Irene and Gil’s marriage has spiraled to the point where things are becoming more and more violent and really neither of them is any better – they seem to thrive on the dysfunction of their relationship. Most disturbing is that their children are caught in the middle of all this and are often caught in the web of violence.
Nothing good can come of this relationship. Both Irene and Gil turn to alcohol and spend much of their time drunk. The children spend much of their time trying to stay out of the way. I didn’t like either Irene or Gil. I found Gil just plain crazy with thoughts verging on dangerous and Irene to me didn’t have enough backbone. As I said the two seemed to thrive on their relationship and really that’s just sick especially where children are involved.
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich is a very intense and sometimes disturbing novel to read. It is extremely well written but heartbreaking. The ending of this novel completely blew me away. It was not one I expected and not one I wanted. I can’t say that this novel will be a favorite of mine but at the same time it thoroughly kept my attention as I kept turning the pages to see what kind of resolution this couple would come to, if any. A person would have to be in the mood for a novel of this kind as it evokes powerful emotions. It is well worth the read though if you’re looking for this type of story.
I read Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. You can pop in and see what others have thought of the book by checking out the tour list here. You can pick up your own copy here in the US and here in Canada.
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My copy of Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich was received for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher HarperCollins.
Great review, Darlene! I want to read this one.
I have long been interested in this book, and think it sounds deliciously dark, and very, very interesting. Your review was wonderful, Dar, and makes me want to rush out and get this one!
Perhaps the book would be too intense for me, I think I might have tried something from her before and gotten that feeling
I'm intrigued by the second diary and also about what she wrote in the original to drive Gil nuts. This sounds oddly appealing to me.
Give Sammie a squeeze for me!
Tribute Books Mama says
thanks! for sharing this.
This sounds really good. I actually own this one but haven't gotten around to reading it. I'll have to read it sooner than later. Great review.
I'm very intrigued by your review because the last book of hers that I tried to read I absolutely hated. I think I got to page 75 and threw my hands up in despair. I would certainly give her another chance and there's something about the story that has me curious!! Excellent thoughts on this one Dar!!!!!!!!!
I agree you have to be in the right mood for this book. I did not like it but could not put it down.
Oh I wouldn't be able to read something like this. I have to like at least one character and I don't think that would happen here.
Teddy Rose says
This one has been on my TBR for awhile now. I suspected that it would be pretty heavy and your wonderful review has confirmed that. It does sound worthwhile.
I really enjoyed your review, Dar. This sounds like a powerful and intense book. I have always meant to read some of Louise Erdrich's work but haven't yet. Shadow Tag intrigues particularly the ending as it shocked you. I like reading books that make me thing and are somewhat disturbing, occasionally. I'm going to think about reading this one & list on my tbr list.
Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours says
This book certainly seems to have made an impact on you! I know what you mean about having to be in the right mood for a book like this. It sounds like it's one that will stay with you for a long time even if it isn't a favorite.
Thanks for being on this tour.
sounds like you had a sort of love/hate thing going with this one…and I must say it sounds interesting and yet not sure I would want to read it.
nomadreader (Carrie) says
I completely agree with you! It won't be a favorite of mine either, but I have immense respect for it and am so glad to have read it. I hope to read more Erdrich soon too, as this novel was my first.
Alice Teh says
This is one story that I would like to read. Interesting storyline.