Monday, July 15, 2013
A few of my favorite books.....
One of America’s greatest women writers, Willa Cather established her talent and her reputation with this extraordinary novel—the first of her books set on the Nebraska frontier. A tale of the prairie land encountered by America’s Swedish, Czech, Bohemian, and French immigrants, as well as a story of how the land challenged them, changed them, and, in some cases, defeated them, Cather’s novel is a uniquely American epic.
Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father’s farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather’s great heroines—all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather’s books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: “The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us.”
Willa Cather, perhaps more than any other American writer, was able to re-create the real drama of the pioneers, capturing for later generations a time, a place, and a spirit that has become part of our national heritage.
I first read O Pioneers while in high school, I loved the story and the beauty of Willa Cather's writing, since then I have re-read it several times. I love it for all the same reasons but have grown to appreciate it on another level. Alexandra Bergstrom is a fascinating and rare character in early American literature, to have such a strong determined female successfully running a large farm on equal terms terms with the men is exciting and fresh! The story captures all the beauty, hardship, struggle, joy and heartbreak of life on the early plains. The characters are bit one dimensional but I think that is by design, the book despite being beautifully written is concise and without unnecessary detail. The characters themselves represent the changes and opportunity available on the thriving prairie even though they have their own story.
If you haven't read O Pioneers, I highly recommend it. It is the rare classic that will not bog you down, it is a light quick enjoyable read. And when your done check out My Antonia, another very enjoyable Willa Cather novel.