Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

I read My Ántonia with my book club but I also get to cross it off my 2011 To Be Read Challenge list (it's been on my shelf since 12/29/09).

This is a beautifully written story told from a man named Jim's point of view as he reflects on his life, starting at age ten when he moved to Nebraska to live with his grandparents after his mom and dad die within a year of each other. The story takes place in the late 1800s when people in the Midwest were pioneers living off the land. Ántonia is a neighbor girl a little older than Jim whose family has immigrated from Bohemia and are struggling at every turn (not unlike immigrants today).

One part that brought back a nice memory for me was when Jim's grandparents sell the farm and move to town. Shortly thereafter Ántonia moves to town as well as a hired girl. "All the young men felt the attraction of the fine, well-set-up country girls who had come to town to earn a living..." I had a friend in college that used to call me "Country Come to Town" since I am a small town girl who is dazzled by simple things. I wonder if my friend got that term from this book?

Although Ms. Cather mastered creating imagery with words, I felt the story lacked real problem/solution plot. It is a snapshot of Jim's growth from boy to man with Ántonia a symbol of America itself, as she creates life from soil and labors to survive in this land of opportunity.

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