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on 13 August 2002
I enjoyed this book, a story of lost youth and opportunities. It is told largely restrospectively, the tale of the young Tom Outland and his impact on the lives of his mentor and his family. As you would expect from Cather, the characters are moving and well drawn and her descriptions of landscapes and ruins with personalities of their own don't disappoint.
This is a very good book, better than most things I've read recently, and I would highly recommend it. As with some of her other books, the sense of place and atmosphere stayed with me a long time after I'd finished.
But it's not "My Antonia" or "Death Comes for the Archbishop", and perhaps I'm unfairly holding that against it.
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on 26 June 2009
The Professors House is a beautifully written piece of prose, however this edition of the book was full of grammical errors. In some places symbols replaced font, and letters were missing. There was even a part in the middle of the book where a whole series of paragraphs were repeated, which lead me to believe that some of the book could also be missing. My advice would be read it but get a different edition because this one needs a good proof read.
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on 14 March 2009
I thought this book excellent. It is episodic in the way that her Death comes for the Archbishop is also. There are insights into the development of character without complete definition. Much like life itself. If you are interested in the complexity of the real world of the late 19th and early 20th century in Western USA these books are for you.
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on 12 March 2014
Set after the First World War, this American novel follows Professor St Peter (yes, that is his name) who is resisting moving from his old house to a new build. Preferring his dingy yet comfortable study in the old house, the Professor cannot see why anyone would want to give up this comfortable space. The novel follows the Professor and his family, along with the ghost of Tom Outland. He died in the war and and left his then fiancée, one of St Peter’s daughters, a hefty sum of money. This creates a wedge between his two daughters and the entire story is haunted by the genuine warmth that Tom brought to the family.

The story is divided into three sections and the middle part tells us more about Tom Outland. Whilst it was interesting to read about Tom’s love for the treasures he discovers while out West, I found this section the most tedious. I understood the principles that Cather was referring to, but found the surrounding sections about the Professor and his family more of an absorbing read. I only wish that Cather had elaborated more on Tom’s discovery that led to him being so wealthy, and feel that I might have understood his character a bit more as a consequence.

I felt sorry for St Peter and how tiresome he feels towards life. Whilst his wife and family are off gallivanting in Paris, he is left, quite content, at home. When readers rejoin the Professor after Tom’s story, he is suddenly very tired of life around him and I felt so sorry for him that the rest of his family were not nearby. It is clear he held Tom in his highest regards and think that if given the opportunity he would do anything to spend some more time with his close friend.

I enjoyed reading this but don’t think I would read it again. The middle section was not as enjoyable as the rest of the story but I did find it clever how Cather made the Professor and Tom appear quite wistful in their ideals.
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VINE VOICEon 24 July 2010
Willa Cather is an author I've heard a lot about but whose work I've never read until now. I should probably have started with her most famous book, My Antonia, but something drew me to this one, The Professor's House.

The Professor of the title is Godfrey St Peter, a man in his fifties, around the same age as Willa Cather was when she wrote this novel. At the beginning of the book, St Peter and his wife are preparing to move into their new home. At the last minute the Professor decides that he doesn't want to give up his old house just yet, so that he can continue to work in his old study and spend some time alone with his memories.

Most of the book revolves around St Peter reminiscing about his family and friends and coming to terms with the idea of leaving the past behind and embracing modern life. At the forefront of the Professor's thoughts is his former student Tom Outland, who had once been engaged to his daughter Rosamond. On his death in the First World War, Outland left everything he had to Rosamond - and this inheritance is causing trouble for the St Peter family.

If you prefer books with a gripping plot and lots of action you'll want to avoid this one, as it was one of the slowest moving books I've ever read. I have to admit there were a few times during the first few chapters that I came close to abandoning it, but I kept reading because it was so well written. I would describe this as a calm, quiet, reflective book; one with such powerful, eloquent writing and beautiful imagery that it doesn't really matter that not much actually happens.

The Professor's House is possibly a book I would appreciate more if I read it again when I'm older, as I found it difficult to identify with a fifty-two year old man looking back on his life. This was my first experience of Willa Cather and although I don't think she's going to be a favourite author, I will probably read more of her work at some point in the future.
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on 2 August 2009
I haven't read enough of Willa Cather to judge whether this is up to her best; all I can say is, if she wrote novels that were even better than The Professor's House ... well, what treats are in store because this has made me want to read everything else that she has written.
It is a book that will speak eloquently to middleaged readers, as the Professor examines the good, albeit imperfect man that he is, and ponders how that man derived from the boy that he used to be.
The Professor has kept his youthful vigour longer than most for, just as it was fading, by chance there came into his life the gifted young self-taught student Tom Outland. Tom's story is an exquisitely beautiful riff in the middle of the book; Cather's descriptions of a ruined Mexican Indian pueblo, an (almost) ideal civilisation discovered by Tom and his friend are hauntingly lovely.
But had Tom survived WW1 would his life have have become as muddied by modern life and the consumerism of wives/daughters as the Prof's is now?
What a writer and how unforgettably she describes the lavender-tones of a fur, or sunrise catching the mesa, or a cart of pink dahlias wrapped in chestnut leaves in Paris. I know that in years to come I shall read this again and again.
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on 7 December 2012
The Wilder Publications edition of the book is incredibly poor. The cover and the pages feel cheap, and it's full of grammatical errors. In some places, where there should be an accent or a diacritic in a word, the letter is replaced by a string of symbols, paragraphs break off mid-sentence, and at one point in this copy an entire chapter is repeated.

Additionally, the book is meant to be split into three parts, with chapters dividing sections within those parts, but this edition does neither. The entire novel is here printed as one single trawl, and a new chapter is only marked by a new line.

I'd definitely recommend The Professor's House, but if you plan on reading it make sure you buy the Virago edition.
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on 14 September 2013
How annoying the typos are in this book! Ok, it cost less than one pound but it has the most odd typos I have come across. Fiancee is spelt fiaA@nce and Pyrenees comes out as PyrAN~@es !! In fact I can't reproduce them exactly as they have Spanish/French accents unavailable on this kindle typeface. At first I thought they were historical references which may later become clear but halfway through book realise they are simply litter. Apart from this, its a good read!
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on 10 February 2011
Typos galore in this printing of the book. Random indenting in a few spots, missing quotation marks, and anytime there should be an è there is a À© or a § instead. I'm less than halfway through but I've encountered at least 7 cases of mistakes. Not trying to be a spelling Nazi, but I would expect spell check to be used for £6.70. If grammatical accuracy is not your aim however then buy away, I have no complaints beyond these.
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on 12 February 2014
Reminded me of 'Stoner'. Another take of a dissatisfied American professor, with disappointing women around him. Very odd bit in the middle about a mysterious Mesa in the desert, which is very poetic and evocative, though rather an odd combination.
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