My Ántonia

Thoughts myantbywc My Ántonia  by Willa Cather, Barnes&Noble Classics 2005 (orig 1918), 288 pages

Blurb from  “Widely recognized as Willa Cather’s greatest novel, My Ántonia is a soulful and rich portrait of a pioneer woman’s simple yet heroic life. The spirited daughter of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia must adapt to a hard existence on the desolate prairies of the Midwest. Enduring childhood poverty, teenage seduction, and family tragedy, she eventually becomes a wife and mother on a Nebraska farm. A fictional record of how women helped forge the communities that formed a nation, My Ántonia is also a hauntingly eloquent celebration of the strength, courage, and spirit of America’s early pioneers.”

This is considered a classic. I could easily count it for the American Classic category or the 20th Century Classic category. I can’t decide. It might also be used as a slot filler for the NAME category of What’s in a Name 2014. What to do? I am shocked not to find it on the 1001+ Books To Read Before I Die. Do tell me if I just failed to find it.

What’s it ABOUT: The blurb above probably tells you more than I typically would. It is accurate.

What’s GOOD: I read somewhere that My Ántonia is Little House on the Prairie with sex and violence. That is an apt description, too.

What’s NOT so good:  Not a thing. I had resisted Willa Cather and ‘plains’ fiction because it is what I know, where I was raised. I thought I would find it dreadfully dull. Why would I want to read about that boring flat land? (Shame on me.) But a friend loaned me this and insisted I read it. So I did. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the characters and especially how Cather explores the lives of women, the choices and their destinies.

The contrast of reading this while sitting on a beach at Waikiki Hawaii was also interesting. I look up and see the waves of the Pacific Ocean. I look back at my book and I’m bumping along a dirt trail looking at the waving red grasses.

FINAL Thoughts: I was struck not only by the thought that lives were hard in those times, that place. Carving a farm out of wild plains with rattlesnakes and climate extremes – very cold and very hot, was a difficult struggle. I wondered about this time period knowing that more struggle was coming  – the Depression, drought, war. Nebraskans are tough people, I know. Good people, mostly. This book is a slice of life.

RATING:  fourpie I cannot believe I didn’t note any encounters with pie! What is wrong with me? Surely this book had a pie mention. Sigh…


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21 thoughts on “My Ántonia

  1. litandlife

    I’m hoping to get to this one this year. Read Cather’s O’ Pioneers a couple of years ago and loved it. Much different than reading Cather when I was in high school!

  2. trish422

    Crap. You liked it. Now I have to read it. It’s been sitting on my shelves for decades (well a decade and a half) and I have just never started.

  3. I bet you get even more out of this then I did. It really did surprise me. The character of Lena is very interesting, too, considering the time it was written and what she does. But then, Ms. Cather herself defied convention.

  4. So many readers I trust love Willa Cather. I bought an old battered copy of My Antonia a long time ago, I think I should dig it out of the book pile soon.

  5. Thank you for this kick in the pants! I read DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP in college and really loved it. I’ve always meant to read more Cather, and I think I have this on the shelves somewhere.

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