The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich
A Novel

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When a woman named Faye Travers is called upon to appraise the estate of a family in her small New Hampshire town, she isn't surprised to discover a forgotten cache of valuable Native American artifacts. After all, the family descends from an Indian agent who worked on the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation that is home to her mother's family. However, she stops dead in her tracks when she finds in the collection a rare drum -- a powerful yet delicate object, made from a massive moose skin stretched across a hollow of cedar, ornamented with symbols she doesn't recognize and dressed in red tassels and a beaded belt and skirt -- especially since, withouttouching the instrument, she hears it sound.

From Faye's discovery, we trace the drum's passage both backward and forward in time, from the reservation on the northern plains to New Hampshire and back. Through the voice of Bernard Shaawano, an Ojibwe, we hear how his grandfather fashioned the drum after years of mourning his young daughter's death, and how it changes the lives of those whose paths its crosses. And through Faye we hear of her anguished relationship with a local sculptor, who himself mourns the loss of a daughter, and of the life she has made alone with her mother, in the shadow of the death of Faye's sister.

Through these compelling voices, The Painted Drum explores the strange power that lost children exert on the memories of those theyleave behind, and as the novel unfolds, its elegantly crafted narrative comes to embody the intricate, transformative rhythms of human grief. One finds throughout the grace and wit, the captivating prose and surprising beauty, that characterize Louise Erdrich's finest work.


About Louise Erdrich

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Louise Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and is the author of many bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. She lives in Minnesota with her family, where she runs an independent bookstore, The Birchbark House. You can visit her online at and
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 304 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Business & Economics. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Painted Drum

Kirkus Reviews

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The drum is found, in a New Hampshire farmhouse following a sudden death, by Faye Travers, a middleaged divorcée of mixed ethnic origin, whose complicated personal life dominates the novel’s expository opening section.

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The New York Times

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I've tried to stay true to both.'' In the process of assimilating the two kinds of story, Erdrich allows Faye, inspired by her Ojibwa roots, to give in to some unlikely sentimentalizing: ''You have to love.

Sep 11 2005 | Read Full Review of The Painted Drum: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Though Erdrich's latest lyrical novel returns to Ojibwe territory (Four Souls ;

Jun 27 2005 | Read Full Review of The Painted Drum: A Novel

Book Reporter

The tale of the Ojibwe painted drum is told in three parts that twine and weave together through the past and the present.

Jan 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Painted Drum: A Novel

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Entertainment Weekly

Louise Erdrich's lovely novel The Painted Drum follows the travels of an Ojibwe drum — an enormous, powerful, intricately decorated, and possibly magical instrument — that turns up in the estate of an eccentric New England miser.

Sep 02 2005 | Read Full Review of The Painted Drum: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Nora Seton Chicago Sun-Times 1.5 of 5 Stars "Erdrich’s somber characters .

Oct 15 2007 | Read Full Review of The Painted Drum: A Novel

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