Blurb from goodreads.com: “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.