Thursday, August 30, 2007

BOOK: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

I was expecting Little House on the Prairie with this book but got a big ole soap opera. Well, as soap opera-y as you can get written in 1913. But there was a lot more character action than I expected.
Set in Nebraska, it wasn't an easy life, mostly because it seemed like immigrants landed there and expected to be able to be farmers with no expereince. Hello? Alexandra was the oldest in her family, and her Swedish father recognized that she was the smartest and on his death bed, had her brothers agree to listen to her. She was smart, and strong, but not all that good at her own emotional stuff. She built up the farm but never married. Lots of American dreams being realized here, including getting successful enough that the youngest can go to school and not have to be a farmer. When will parents realize that telling their kids they can't do something (farm) isn't any different from making them do it. No choice.
It seemed a little rushed, and the characters and actions could have been a lot more drawn out, but maybe shorter was better. I could see this being studied in American high schools, because a lot of emotions and motives could be studied: politics, family relations, role of women, jealousy, violence, gun control, the family farm.
The Nebraska wheat fields are beautifully described and the characters love of land comes through. The multicultural background of America - Swedes, Bohemians, French, is nicely described, and could explain the modern day 'midwestern' character, when you see the people and customs that built it.
Another one for the decades challenge (1910s) and the summer classic challenge.


  1. I've only read one Willa Cather book, My Antonia . . . but it's on my mental all-time favorites list. Have you read that one?


  2. bookfool - is that you? No, this was my first Willa Cather, and I'd read another. All time favorite list? that's high praise, so I'll add it to 'the list'. I've read so many new authors this year, with so many good books, I don't know if I'll eveer catch up. sigh

  3. I love the descriptions as well - so vivid! Cather really excelled at that. I suggest reading My Antonia for more descriptions.


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