Summary

Widely recognized as Willa Cather's finest book and one of the outstanding novels of American literature, My Antonia details of the life of early American pioneers in Nebraska.
Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland, with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society's heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia.
Infused with a gracious passion for the land, My Antonia is a deeply moving portrait of an entire community and its way of life.
©2012 Willa Cather
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Critic reviews

"No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia." (H. L. Mencken)
" My Antonia is packed with the feel of the country. A scant paragraph sets you out on the plains, and the breath of the wind that billows the long grass never leaves your face." ( Chicago Daily News)
"In Antonia, Willa Cather portrays one of the great women of literature: strong, capable, and honest. My Antonia is a book to read to children to show them what women can be, or to read and remind yourself." (Erica Bauermeister, 500 Great Books by Women)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Mirium on 18-07-09

Sweet, but vaguely disappointing

This was a very sweet book - wonderfully evocative of a time and place, but ultimately I found it unsatisfactory. I kept expecting there to be some sort of plot, but it was just a (beautifully-described) series of events. At the end it just seemed to tail off into nothing......

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Helena on 09-02-08

Pioneering life, love and loss on the prairie

As I am unfamiliar with pioneering history and American literature in general, I was not sure if I'd like this; but the love of the land shone through from the beginning and had me hooked immediately. The author's knowledge of Nebraska and her changing seasons is as deep as Thomas Hardy's feeling for his native Wessex. The separate but intermingled tales of the immigrant families and their unequal struggle to settle the land; their later drift away from the land towards town; their homesickness; the struggle of the girls, whose work is never finished and who must yet not be seen to enjoy themselves, all conjure up an exquisite picture of small-town Nebraska and its social mores.

The narration jarred at first, the pace seeming a little fast, but I soon adjusted. I have listened to this book for a little over a week, and on finishing it feel saddened, as if waving goodbye to an old friend.

My own comparison of this work with Thomas Hardy's novels had made we wonder if this too would have a tragic ending. I'm pleased to observe that Cather's charcters were not similarly fated: hope survives, interspersed with tragedies great and small. All in all, a true classic, engaging as it does with the broad themes of journeying and returning; of the roles of love, memory, and landscape. Highly recommended.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Western Canada on 19-04-08

applause for a classic

This is a must read/listen for anyone interested in pioneers of the Great Plains area of Canada and the US. Cather's descriptions are extremely well-written giving a great sense of place without excess wordiness. Her characters as well are developed through their deeds, actions and words without volumes of text to support them.As a result, the characters become 'real' humans, filled with loyalites,contradictions and dilemmas of everyday life. Finally, this book recalls a time when the influence of a natural landscape was most profound. Fans of prairie and pioneer history will truly enjoy this classic.

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39 of 40 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Sher from Provo on 31-03-14

Good book

"My Antonia" (emphasis on the "i") has been on my "to-read" list for a very long time. Oddly, I ended up with three versions of this book: Physical book, Kindle edition, and audio. I read all of them simultaneously. (I love doing that!) It is beautifully written by the great Willa Cather, and I understand it is very much autobiographical. Basically, it is the story of the Great Melting Pot, how foreign born families immigrated to the United States, specifically the Great Plains, and did their best to fit in, make a living, and give their children an opportunity that could not be had anywhere else in the world. It was not an easy life. These families left everything they knew, even their native languages, to come to the great unknown, with the promise of a better life. My own great-grandparents left Denmark in the late 1800s, in a similar time frame and reason as the people in this book, and brought their three young sons with them, boys who would never know their native land, or ever see it again. That takes guts, and these were gutsy people. Antonia was a strong, smart girl who grew up to raise a big family in the best way she knew how. I admire her.

With all this said, it is not the most compelling book I have ever read. Yes, I cared about the characters, and was involved with their lives, but it is not a serious page turner. It is an easy read, and may be best read by a young adult. In my opinion, it is a good book, and has many elements that make it very worthwhile reading. I just don't think I would categorize it as great. The narrator of the audio book was good, but not great either. He was easy to listen to and did a good job of reading it, but I was always conscious of his reading. He didn't suck me into the story the way a really great narrator can.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about pioneers, and how our country became "e pluribus unum."

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84 of 89 people found this review helpful

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