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Death Comes for the Archbishop (Vintage Classics) Paperback – June 16, 1990
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In what reads like a series of short stories, the priests travel throughout the area and meet a wide variety of people along the way. Always, their adventures take on mythical and religious significance, such as when Father Latour finds himself quite lost and then sees a juniper tree in the shape of a cross that leads him to food and shelter. Each of these stories has a crisis and each crisis is answered by a religious experience. This deepens the faith of the two priests who share their common religious feelings even though they have very different personalities.
Ms. Cather had the uncanny ability to capture exactly what each character felt and let the reader experience it moment to moment. Her detailed descriptions are many faceted. For example she uses the character of Kit Carson to show both gentleness and compassion as well as vile cruelty to the Indians. Always, she just lays out the story and lets the reader make his or her own judgments.
One of the problems I had with the book was my own desire to have the priests confront some difficult choice. That didn't happen. Their faith was always there.Read more ›
I admit, I am part of the third group. I fell in love with the writing of Cather as a teenager. To date, I have found no other author who can illustrate the great expanse of America and the vision of our ancestors in the way she could. Being set in New Mexico, the feeling of expanse of the American West permeates every page. I agree with another reviewer that this book is the writing equivalent of O'Keefe.
While I can understand the young ones criticizing the book after being forced to read it, I don't understand adults who were dissatisfied. Was this their first Cather? Hopefully not (I'd recommend starting with "Song of the Lark" or "O Pioneers". Her writing is not an unknown quantity.
I've read the book many times over the past thirty years, and it's not a book for those who like to have their plots laid out for them. The plot is obscure, as Cather leaves the main story line with chapters diverging like side trails off a main path. Though not hard to read, it's not a book for those in a hurry. It's best being read in a comfy chair on a rainy afternoon next to a window. The sense of timeliness, of the stretching on into eternity, is seldom better conveyed than in this book.Read more ›
"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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I grew up in Santa Fe and found the whole history both familiar and refreshing. A very good read.Published 2 days ago by C. L. Wilson
Beautifully written using wonderfully descriptions of geological formations, native and Mexican people and life as a Missionary in the SW during the mid 19th Century.Published 9 days ago by Marilane McCartney
When I started this book I wanted to race through it just to finish it for book club. However, about a fourth of the way through it, I began to absorb the amazingly detailed... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Redlila
poetic writing style.... images are beautifully developed and absorbed by the reader.Published 10 days ago by Steve Abril
I love to read stories about what a Catholic prelate should really be like. I think this gives current Churchmen (and laity alike) a goal to strive for as we live out our... Read morePublished 10 days ago by 60Shirley
Short novel about the church in the early Southwest (Santa Fe as the hub). For Southwest aficionados you'll like the references to the places and culture of the region. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Alan R. Tower
Willa Cather's portrayal of two French priests' adventures and hardships after they are assigned to newly- formed diocese in Santa Fe is one of the classic picturesque novels of... Read morePublished 18 days ago by literary genus
Two important themes in one novel. I am so interested in knowing about New Mexico and the Southweat historical development and I enjoy clerical characters in a historical fiction... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Jeannee Marker