Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich: A review
The mystery is why these accomplished and responsible women each fell in love with this loser of a man. The man they describe, perhaps accidentally, is an incredibly selfish and short-sighted person. He is completely irresponsible and seems to have betrayed everyone he had ever had a serious relationship with. Still, these women loved him and some of them still do and it seems likely that on some level he returned their love. At least of some of them. There is no explaining the ways of the human heart.
But perhaps the experience of loving the wrong person at some point in our lives is something that most of us can relate to. In this sense, the "burning love" that Erdrich describes is a pain that all of us have felt.
Each of the four women telling their story here is a very different person. It seems the only thing they really have in common is Jack. Only one of the women had a child with him, but, ironically, she seems to be the least affected by his death and perhaps the least committed to him in life.
Each of these characters - Jack Mauser and his four wives, Eleanor, Candice, Marlis, and Dot - are dysfunctional human beings, and yet it could be argued that they all did the best they could. Their lives are messed up, but then whose life isn't at some time and on some level? Each of these messed up human beings are getting through life the best way they know how and what more can we expect of anyone?
Erdrich writes of them all with affection and humor. The humor, in fact, is the saving grace of this book, in my opinion. I didn't really like most of the characters and for that reason, it was a bit difficult for me to "connect" with it. But Erdrich writes so beautifully that she almost pulls it off in spite of her unlikeable characters. And anyway, any Erdrich book is always worth reading.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars