I am utterly stunned by Louise Erdrich's writing. I read Tracks in Semester 1 and loved it, and was given this for Christmas. To be perfectly honest, I can't afford any reading for "pleasure" at the moment (what with 6 weeks or so until my dissertation and two final essays have to be handed in)... But procrastination or no procrastination, this book was beautiful.
Characters are presented in careful, but not overwhelming detail, and the same goes for Erdrich's setting of North Dakota.
There is so much feeling in the way she writes - the words jump off the page and wrap themselves around you. Erdrich's prose is sensual and surprising; the story is dynamic despite not being especially dramatic - there are a couple of surreal events, but what I love is her skill in engrossing the reader in the everday. Her portraits of longing, insecurity, loneliness, guilt, and redemption.
On another note, the Harper Perrenial edition (pictured) has the added appeal of a Q&A and Interview with the Author, as well as a small critical segment - which I found interesting both while reading, and as something to run my eyes over while absorbing the end of the novel.
The tree drew him with its delicate perfume. His cheeks went pink, he stretched his arms out like a sleepwalker, and in one long transfixed motion he floated to the tree and buried his face in its white petals.