Sunday, January 20, 2019
Posted by JaneGS
I just finished my first classic of 2019, Willa Cather's O Pioneers!. It is the first in what is termed her Great Plains Trilogy, which also includes Song of the Lark and My Antonia. I plan to read all three books this year, and this first book reconfirmed this plan.
Oh, Pioneers was simply marvelous. The writing was superb--strong, clear, deceptively simple, just like the story Cather told in the novel. The heroine, Alexandra Bergson, is the daughter of Swedish immigrants who settle in Nebraska around 1900. Alexandra's father dies early in the story, leaving his level-headed daughter in charge of the family farm in lieu of her brothers, whom he doesn't feel have the right stuff to manage the farm and the family's finances. Alexandra proves him right, and manages to bring the family through hard times to prosperity.
The novel spans several decades and we see the family evolve along with the west. There is joy and sorrow, tragedy and triumph as the Bergsons farm the land, participate in the melting pot community of immigrants who are also trying to build a new home on the American prairie, and seek to take advantage of the educational opportunities that America provides.
The story is a richly detailed account of life on the prairie before WWI changed the world, both the incredible harshness of the land and the beauty and vastness of it.
An excellent start to my classic reading for this year.
Not going to peg this for the Back to the Classics Challenge for 2019 as I have other books in mind for the categories into which it would fit.