Hello, readers! I am excited, as this is my first post on The Ladies Library. I am Hailey Renée, and I will be posting reviews of classic literature. Well, for part of my literature studies this year, I had to read My Ántonia by Willa Cather.
My Ántonia is a beautiful work of craftsmanship, written by Cather in 1918, but set in a bit earlier times in rural Nebraska. The story is about a boy named Jim Quayle, who is orphaned in Virginia and is sent to live with his grandparents on the prairie. There he meets a beautiful Bohemian girl named Ántonia (pronounced AN-toh-nee-ah). The first part of the story follows Jim's idyllic childhood and friendship with Ántonia. In the second part, Jim, his grandparents, and Ántonia's family move to a town called Black Hawk. Here, Jim begins to mature, and so does Ántonia. He makes friends with many other immigrants at this time, and it ends with him graduating and ready to go to college. The third book picks up with Jim at school, where he is re-acquainted with his old friend, Lena Lingard. I don't think I ought to tell more of what the story goes like, for fear of giving away anything I ought not.
In this book, Miss Cather has captured the very heart of the prairie. It is sweetly nostalgic, sometimes melancholy, but always simple and lovely. This is some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read, and Cather has a knack for creating very diverse characters.
But, with this diversity of characters, there are some rather violent ones. There is a side story in this novel of a husband and wife who hate each other, and it ends messily. Also, there is one suicide, and another girl commits a sexual sin that results in pregnancy. However, most of the violence is really in stories within the story.
All in all, I loved this book. You can feel Cather's love of the prairie and the people who live there, and the storytelling is superb. I highly recommend this for ages 13 or up.