Monday, December 19, 2011

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

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.
~~synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts on O Pioneers! ~~

O Pioneers! was selected as the 'classic' read that my book group read this month. I loved the book; the writing and the characters. It is amazing to me that this book was written almost 100 years ago and and it is still a great read, you know what I mean? The language and writing seemed very modern and there was not that challenge to 'get used to' the dialogue or the vocabulary that she used. It flowed very well.That's a sign of a great classic!

All of us in the group loved the book. There is a very strong female character, actually she is the main character, and the thought among us was that this was a very feminist book for it's time. Rather unusual.

I grew up about 30 miles from Red Cloud, which is where Willa Cather grew up. She uses Red Cloud as the model for the settings in a lot of her books. I am kind of ashamed to admit that I don't remember reading any of Cather's books before now. I can't imagine that we didn't have to read any of them in school, but for the life of me, I don't remember reading any. I really need to change that.

Probably one of her most well known books is My Antonia. This title is available as a free e-book. I downloaded it last night and will be reading it soon. Gotta love the classics!


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