Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
One of the loveliest books ever
on 8 August 2013
Cather is sublime. Above all, her characters (here orphaned American boy Jim and Antonia, daughter of poor immigrant farmers) live on in the reader's mind and heart for ever. They are archetypes. Like the places visited in her books, from the prairies to the canyons, from New York to 17th-century Quebec, her characters come to life so naturally that they become unforgettable. The introduction to My Antonia, which, at just two or three pages, is actually a key part of the novel, is one of my favourite passages in all literature, and in this lovely Dover paperback you get a bit more of it than you do in other editions, where it is curtailed, reflecting a cut made to the passage by the author herself after publication - a rare misjudgement on her part. The relationship between the two central characters is also one of the loveliest relationships in literature. Cather and her characters have many qualities, one of which is strength, another lack of sentiment but great warmth. As a writer, Cather is economical but her prose is consistently fine. Her writing is a joy to read, and it is no exaggeration to call her great. What she has to say and how she says it are inseparable, indispensable, enduringly fine. When you have discovered her, you will struggle to find her equal. Her short stories are as good as the novels. For the full-length books, start with Antonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop, Shadows on the Rock, Song of the Lark, and One of Ours - and somewhere among them dip into the Collected Stories (including the magnificent Neighbour Rosicky and Tom Outland's Story, later incorporated into another of the novels: The Professor's House). For me the early novels Alexander's Bridge and the later Sapphira and the Slave Girl are less good, but overall Cather is one of the finest writers in the English language.