The Painted Drum, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


From the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, 2012 comes this elegantly crafted novel that explores the strange power that lost children exert on the memories of those they leave behindWhen Faye Travers is sent to appraise a family estate in a small New Hampshire town and comes across a forgotten set of valuable Native American artefacts, she is not surprised by the discovery.

However, she is shocked when she finds a rare drum - particularly because without even touching the instrument she hears its deep resonant sound.Following the discovery, we trace the drum's passage both backwards and forwards in time.

We hear the voice of Bernard Shaawano, an Ojibwe, who tells of how his grandfather created the drum after years of mourning his younger daughter's death and how it changes the paths of those who cross it.

Through Faye, we experience her anguished relationship with a local sculptor who also mourns the loss of a daughter, and witness the life Faye has made alone with her mother, in the shadow of her sister's death.Erdich poetically captures the intricate, transformative rhythms of human grief that these losses create within her characters with grace, wit, captivating prose and surprising beauty.


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This story is about several generations of Ojibwe Indians and is an interesting psychological study of how parents’ problems can get passed on to their children and their children and their children. I didn’t so much buy the mystical allusions about the drum itself. Some terribly sad and horrifying things happen to children in this story. I wanted to love this book as I generally love fiction and non-fiction books about Native Americans. But I had a few problems with the fairy tale style of the book. I would like to read some of Louise Erdrich’s other books about Ojibwe Indians, as I’ve heard many of them are rated higher by many readers.

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