Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Book Review - O Pioneers!

Here's another book about the Nebraska praries and people trying to tame them: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather. A big difference between it and "Giants in the Earth" is that Alexandra loves the land.

Usually I advocate reading the introduction to books first, but I wish I hadn't in this case. The Penguin edition has a very scholarly introduction by Blanche E. Gelfant that reminds me of papers I had to write in college comparing Gabriel Garcia Marquez to William Faulkner to Alice Walker. I don't so much mind that the plot was given away as that I wish I could have made my own impressions about things like Alexandra and Carl's relationship on my own instead of them being shaded by Gelfant's talk of what "friends" means. This is the kind of book that warrants being read over again and dissected, so now I will read the introduction again.

Alexandra has to take over the farm when her father dies, because her father knows that she is better suited than her two brothers. She has great vision and leads the family through hard times, and is like a mother to her third, youngest brother. There is drama and, in my opinion melodrama. The book is so full of imagery about the land. Cather manages to tell a story, paint vivid pictures of the land, and let us inside the characters heads (some more than others). I especially enjoyed the comparisons of the Swedish immigrants to the French and Bohemian.

I will not say more because you can read much better reviews at Amazon. I look forward to reading more by Will Cather.

(This is in our Anna K. library)

1 comment:

Kristen said...

When you reviewed Giants of the Earth, it brought to mind this Willa Cather story as well as her My Antonia. The prairie really is a main character in these books. And don't forget Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose books take place in prairies in several states. I read these books over and over as a kid.