Book Review: My Ántonia by Willa Cather

May 1, 2013

My Ántonia by Willa Cather was written in 1918 and is considered the last in the “Prairie Trilogy” following O Pioneers! (review) And The Song of the Lark. This book is considered one of the greatest novels written by an American.

  • 176 pages
  • Publisher:Dover Publications
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0486282406

Book Review My Ántonia by Willa Cather

My rat­ing for My Ántonia —4

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My Ántonia by Willa Cather is a story within a story. The narrator is a friend of Jim who is stuck in a loveless marriage. Jim is consumed by a fantasy girl, Ántonia, who he remembers from childhood.

The characters in the book well written, realistic but form a strange group, Ms. Cather does an amazing job writing a book from the perspective of a young man. To be honest, if I knew that this would be the case I probably won’t have read the book to begin with. I’m always weary of stories written from a perspective which the author can never perceive. Even though a man tells the story, this is not how a man would tell a story. The narrative might be in the voice of a man, but it is a woman writing as a man, with all the insights, gentleness and motivations which comes with it. While writing from that perspective might not always work, this novel comes off as a realistic fantasy of a middle aged man, thinking back on his life, the mistakes he has made and what “could have been”.

Ántonia seems to be the perfect woman, told by an unreliable narrator who remembers her without any faults. It’s as if you made contact with your high-school sweetheart, decades after you saw one another and expect nothing to change. Jim puts Ántonia on a pedestal, the reader knows she’s not perfect and the mistakes, is lovely as they are, are still seen through rose colored glasses worn by a man who adores her but simply doesn’t understand her.

This is certainly a book of quality; Cather makes this character driven novel come alive with her vivid descriptions of Nebraska. It seems that the characters belong to each other as much as they belong to the land and to the American immigrant literary experience.

Ántonia Shimerda’s story is told through the eyes of Jim Burden, a childhood friend. Even though Jim left town, he never forgot the Bohemian girl who influenced, and still influences his life from afar.

Ántonia has always worked hard, first helping her parents farm in an unfriendly land and later to preserve though the hardships life throws at her. Ántonia always prevails with spirit that cannot be broken, that of a pioneer.

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More Books by Willa Cather

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free.
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  • stacybuckeyeMay 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I listened to the first half of this on audio and really didn’t like it, but when I finished it up on paper I had a much better response. Sometimes the way you read it matters!

  • AlyceMay 2, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I usually have my doubts about stories with protagonists of a gender different from the author as well. I have heard that this is supposed to be a wonderful classic though, but I haven’t given it a try yet.

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