Book Review: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

December 20, 2012
Article first published as Book Review: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather on Blogcritics.

O Pioneers!By Willa Cather was written in 1913 and is considered the first novel of the Great Plains trilogy. The novel has many themes including isolation, love and feminism.

  • 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486277852

Book Review O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

My rating for O Pioneers!3

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More Books by Willa Cather

I’ve only been recently introduced to the writing of Willa Cather. I believe it was on some “top 100” list (who said they’re lame?) and figured I’ll give it a try.

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather is considered a classic and I can certainly understand why. The writing is outstanding and it has all the makings of the great American novel. The story tells of hard work, wide eyed innocence towards the future and opportunities abound as seen through the eyes of the immigrant class.

The scenery plays a major part in the novel, the lyrical episodes about the pastoral land are sprawling and majestic. As is with many other novels, the setting of the harsh and beautiful land is playing out as another character in the book. The Midwestern prairie which the pioneers labor over is an essential part of character development and profound understanding of themselves, the land and life.

On the contrary, the parts which deal with people are concise and sparring much like the personalities of those that worked the acrid land. Cather manages to convey the sense of community despite the vastness of the land, a testament to her writing skills and ability to personalize a storyline.

While I loved the descriptions and prose, the dialog seemed a bit stilted, it just didn’t seem as if that’s how the characters wouldspeak, especially when among friends and relatives. However the storyline is exemplary and the characterization – amazing; I found myself caring about the people in the story and breathlessly waiting to find out what will happen to them.

The Bergsons immigrated from Switzerland to Hanover, Nebraska at the turn of the 20th Century. When the patriarch of the family dies, his daughter Alexandra, inherits the farm and devotes her life to making it a viable enterprise at a time when others give up and leave.

Buy this book in paper or FREE in electronic format

More Books by Willa Cather

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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  • Sharon HenningDecember 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Nice review. I can’t remember if I’ve read O Pioneers, it doesn’t ring a bell. I did read My Antonia, though, and enjoyed it. If you liked O Pioneers, you’ll probably also enjoy My Antonia.

  • April KemplerDecember 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you for your lovely review. This is a book on my to-be-read shelf. Now I can’t wait to read it!

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