Thursday 7 May 2015

Shadow Tag

Finished May 7
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

A novel about a dysfunctional marriage. Irene and Gil live in Minneapolis with their three children, Florian, Riel, and Stoney. Gil is an artist, and while he did landscapes before he met Irene, she has been him subject ever since. He is older than her and while they both are native, her bloodline is stronger than his, something that he always feels. Gil wants to control, and Irene has begun to feel stifled by this control. His paintings of her have grown darker over the years, and Irene has begun to take her refuge in wine, something Gil encourages.
But Irene's resentment has grown, and as the violence in their marriage has started to affect the children, she has started to hide her feelings. She knows that he has been reading her diary, and so she has written things in it to control him. Her real diary is hidden somewhere he cannot reach.
The two older children, Florian and Riel have been watching their parents, talking with each other, and discussing possibilities. Unexpectedly, Irene is still mourning the loss of her mother a couple of years earlier and when she finds someone else she can call family, it gives her the strength to continue her struggle to free herself from Gil.
The bond, however dysfunctional, between these two is a complex one. They need each other, but are very bad for each other. The playing out of their relationship seems almost inevitable, even as you are wishing it could be different.
This is a book that has complex characters, and a relationship between them just as complex. I found it a book that I had to read in short sections, wanting to think about it before picking it up again.

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