Sunday, August 28, 2011
Book review of #3 My Antonia by Willa Cather
Author Name: Willa Cather
Publisher: Bantam classic
Type of book: Young adult-adult, prairie, immigrants, Nebraska, late 1800s-early 1900s
Year it was published: 1918 (version I have 1994)
Antonia Shimerda returns to Black Hawk, Nebraska, to make a fresh start after eloping with a railway conductor following the tragic death of her father. Accustomed to living in a sod house and toiling alongside the men in the fields, she is unprepared for the lecherous reaction her lush sensuality provokes when she moves to the city. Despite betrayal and crushing opposition, Antonia steadfastly pursues her quest for happiness-a moving struggle that mirrors the quiet drama of the American landscape.
Some characters always described Antonia as special and whatnot, but maybe its me, but I didn't understand how and why she was special. The characters are all interesting, although the author chose to get rid of some interesting characters, (the Ukrainians for instance, or the men who took care of Jim on the way to his grandparents' farm.)
If you're thinking that this is a plot wise, it's not. This seems more like memoir type story, or perhaps somewhat like Laura Ingalls Wilder stories but without a theme. (At least the theme was not visible to me.) If you would like to learn how immigrants from different countries viewed one another and how neighborly they were, then this might be a book one could enjoy. For one reason or another, it also tends to be similar to YA books Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan.
Unfortunately I believed the summary when I read the book, thus I was disappointed. The summary written above isn't very accurate. This was told in first person narrative and as I mentioned, the male character completely admired Antonia and gave of himself very little. (Maybe that's why I had a hard time figuring out that he was in love with Antonia.)
Willa Seibert Cather (December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947) was an American author who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and The Song of the Lark. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922), a novel set during World War I. Cather grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska; she lived and worked in Pittsburgh for ten years; at age 33 she moved to New York for the rest of her adult life and writing career.(from wikipedia)
First of all the summary is not very accurate. Most of the book deals with friendship between Antonia and Jim, and we learn very little about Jim such as his inner self, for he completely focuses on Antonia Shimerda, and somewhat on Lena Lingaard, two of the 'hired girls'. It's difficult to believe that he's in love with her. I think the book is styled like a movie, all picturesque and beautiful but very little psychology or motivations towards actions. (At least it seems that way to me.) I also felt that it ended rather abruptly. In beginning, an uknown character talks about Jim Burden and gives a little of his life. Jim begins to talk about Antonia, writes his memories of her and her family (he was asked to do so,) the reader reads it and moves on with life so to speak.
2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)