Willa Cather's works are more reminiscent of paintings than books. They are better described by words such a `warm', `vibrant' and `rich' than by `suspenseful', `fascinating' or `page-turner'. In "Death Comes for the Archbishop" she does to New Mexico with black ink what Georgia O'Keefe needed a whole palette of colors to do.
"Death Comes for the Archbishop" is a multidimensional work skillfully woven together. On one hand Cather tells the story of New Mexico in the early days of its occupation by the United States and of the clash of two cultures trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, to get along.
On the other hand it is a portrait of a life. It is the story of Father Latour, a French priest sent to Santa Fe by the church to serve as an impartial intermediary between the protestant Anglo government and the Mexican Catholic population. He leaves behind all that is dear to him and dedicates himself to a life of service in a distant outpost far from what he must have considered civilization.
While it's true that the book may be `episodic' or `anecdotal', few of us recall our own lives as a smooth, day-to-day rendering. What we remember are the high points and low points of our lives, and so it is here. This is, after all, the story of the life, and death, of a man.
If you read books just to find out how they end, I'll save you the trouble. He dies. But if you read to experience the world through the heart and eyes of a great author, this book is for you. And once you read it you will find that, for you, Father Latour, hasn't really died. He'll stay with you forever.