Reviewed by Renée Bosman, Government Information Librarian
At the center of this amazing work of storytelling are the four ex-wives of Jack Mauser, who become stranded together in a blizzard after attending his funeral. To pass the time, stay alert, and ensure their survival, they huddle together and share stories of how their lives intersected with Jack—a charming, self-destructive man who let his first wife die in a snowstorm, an incident which haunts him throughout his subsequent marriages.
"Pretend this car is a confessional," says Dot. "Rule one...No shutting up until dawn. Rule two. Tell a true story. Rule three. The story has to be about you. Something that you've never told another soul, a story that would scorch paper, heat up the air!"
Erdrich skillfully weaves the wives' stories together with exquisite prose, setting them against the background of a stark, expansive North Dakota landscape. The narrative structure of the book is also very compelling; the style with which it swings back and forth between memories and the present from different points of view (yet never confusingly so) adds to the dreamlike quality of the stories that unfurl.