Love Medicine is Louise Erdrich’s first novel published in 1984. It won her the National Book Critics Circle Award that same year. The novel is highly acclaimed and features on a number of prominent university’s literature reading lists.
Here is the blurb from GoodReads:
“The stunning first novel in Louise Erdrich’s Native American series, Love Medicine tells the story of two families, the Kashpaws and the Lamartines. Written in Erdrich’s uniquely poetic, powerful style, it is a multi-generational portrait of strong men and women caught in an unforgettable drama of anger, desire, and the healing power that is love medicine.”
Erdrich has a way of taking ordinary lives and their dramas and revealing what is special about the people in her stories. Essentially, she shows us that everyone is special no matter how ordinary we feel and no matter how many people have been through what we have been through. I have always believed that all people and thus their life experiences are unique but Erdrich has made filling a novel with what many people go through an art. She has a way of connecting all these people’s stories in such an insightful way. She shows human truths through her writing about ‘normality’.
Of added interest to me is life on the reservation, the Indian families that live there, and their interactions with white America. I love this element in her novels. I liked the inclusion of the powers of knowing of the Nanapush family and Marie Kashpaw. A huge part of why I loved this book was how she told it. She had each chapter as a perspective of events from a different character from the various families. They were from different generations (as this story spans some 60 years) and different parts of the families which at the end of the book you realise are all interconnected – one big family. Each character had not only a different emotional perspective of events but different knowledge of those events. And so we get to know their stories and the people just as you would as a family member; from different family members over time revealing the greater story in pieces.
It goes without saying that Erdrich’s writing is beautiful – poetic – an absolute pleasure to read. I’ve read two of her novels now and both have left me feeling like she dropped a bunch of pearls of wisdom and yet I’m not sure that I caught sight of them all. It is rare that I finish a novel feeling like I will have to read it again but this is one that I’ll have to go back over. I highly recommend this novel!