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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
110
4.4 out of 5 stars
My Antonia
Format: Paperback|Change


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.
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on 17 January 2016
Why have I not come come across Willa Cather before? Despite being written a hundred years ago this book had an immediacy and vividness I loved. Is it because she is American that it lacked the stuffiness of English writers of the time? It gave me a real flavour of the immigrant pioneers and the wildness that was the mid West at the time.
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on 14 April 1999
Willa Cather's novel is the most beautiful story of the lives of plain people that I have ever read.
Her strength as a novelist lies in her ability to weave a wonderful story around the lives of ordinary characters; ordinary in the sense that everything they feel, every word that they speak, and all that they do, is perfectly understandable to the reader.
Every time I read My Antonia, I wish I could find, like young Jim Burden does, a warm yellow pumpkin to lean my back against, and feel the sun warm my face as I watched the wind push the prarie grass in rolling waves of shimmering green. I am sure that in doing so I would find real happiness.
Cather is an artist, and the full, rich landscape of the frontier prarie is her canvas. On it she creates beautiful images of sunsets and prarie flowers; disturbing pictures of suicide and infidelity; brushstrokes of true friendship and true hardship and determination and strength.
The reunion of Jim and Antonia is beautifully unforgettable, and tells the whole story: when Jim's success as a big city attorney is squared against the humility of Antonia's existence - her fruit cave and orchard trees and grape arbour, and her wriggling, giggling flock of children, it fades down and disappears like a setting sun.
In finishing the story with this visit, Cather preserves the magic of the land, the strength of those who tamed it, and the unbreakable bond between the two.
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on 2 April 2014
I wish all novels were as well written as this - a joy to read, evocative of a time long gone but it gives clues as to the rural communities in America today, their history and that of their largely European origins writ large. Wonderful read, all too short, recommended
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on 27 April 2017
Once I got into this book I really enjoyed it - really well written and some excellent characters.
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on 12 July 2013
A wonderfully atmospheric book. You really got the sense of the trials the pioneers had to endure and out of that environment some wonderful characters emerged.
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on 18 July 2017
Really good book . A very complete read.
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on 27 December 2015
Interesting narrative detailing conditions as America was opened up and settled by European immigrants.
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on 9 May 2009
This book is beautifully written and is a sensitive story well told from an age that is past. The fact that I shall re-read it at some time in the future indicates its classic status.
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on 27 October 2017
excellent!
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