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Lucy Gayheart (Vintage Classics) Paperback – September 26, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (September 26, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679728880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679728887
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The unity of Miss Cather's design, the clarity and distinction of this book, should put it beside her first great success, My Ántonia." —The Times Literary Supplement (London)

From the Inside Flap

Lucy Gayheart ist achtzehn, einen temperamentvolle junge Frau voller Charme und Vitalitaet und eine gute Pianistin. Als das Leben in dem Provinzstaedtchen Haverford sie zu ersticken droht, flieht sie nach Chicago, um dort Musik zu studieren. Doch sie ist nicht zur Kuenstlerin geboren, denn fuer eine grosse Karriere fehlt es ihr an Wille und Disziplin. Diese bittere Erkenntnis trifft Lucy wie ein Blitz, als sie den Opernsaenger Sebastian zum ersten Mal singen hoert. Es ist eine Begegnung, die ihr weiteres Leben schicksalhaft veraendern soll.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
This beautiful and tragic book ranks as one of my favorite Willa Cather novels.
C. Conlee
Though difficult to describe to one who is unfamiliar with the style, the story is lovely, wistfully romantic... and Cather's sparkling prose is simply unequaled.
Natalie
She is confronted by choices that will determine a future of introspection and sadness.
M. Schilling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Natalie on July 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Lucy Gayheart is one of the greatest books in my memory, certainly the best among the five Willa Cather books I have read. Though difficult to describe to one who is unfamiliar with the style, the story is lovely, wistfully romantic... and Cather's sparkling prose is simply unequaled. I especially loved the novel's reflection of the creative spirit - Lucy is a young artist full of ardent longing, passion, and ultimately pain.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Willa Cather's short poignant novel was written in 1935. The story takes place in the early twentienth century and contrasts the American plains, the small town of Haverford, Nebraska, with Chicago, large urban American with its promise and perils. The heroine of the book, Lucy Gayheart, has great pianistic talent. She leaves Haverford at the age of 18 to study piano, and to give music lessons, in Chicago.
In Chicago she meets a great but disillusioned and world-weary singer, Clement Sebastian, and has the opportunity to work with him as an accompanyist. There are wonderful descriptions of Schubert song-cycles: the Winterreise and the Miller's Lovely Daughter. She ultimately is seemingly faced with the choice between Sebastian and her hometown sweetheart.
Faced with tragedy from both men in Chicago, Lucy returns home. She gears herself to begin life anew but tragedy again intervenes.
There is a great deal of description in the book of the snow andthe cold, in both Chicago and Haverford. The book also has for me a feel for the tragic sense of life, with a hint of the power of art and religious faith to overcome it. The opposition between city life and provincial town life is similar to Sinclair Lewis's Main Street but with more depth and craft in the writing. The love for music, the human voice and the piano eloquently comes through the book.
This is a beautifully wrought book which deserves to be better known.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary T. Miller on February 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
A hundred years after the novel is set, the contrast between Chicago and Nebraska still rings true. Having lived in both places, I admire Cather's abiltiy to show the readers the strengths and weak points of each setting. Lucy is so in tune with her surroundings that the settings act almost as characters.
My book discussion group is reading "Lucy Gayheart" because we've all read the "major" Cather works. We chose this one because none of us knew anything about it. It will never be considered one of her great works, but it certainly can stand against the works of many other writers. Cather delicately touches on the subjects of change as a part of leaving home and growing up, the yearning for what is ethereal and lovely, and the difficulty & loneliness of creating a life as an artist.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Lucy Gayheart is a young, spirited, intelligent music student from Havorford, on the South Platte River. In the winters, she attends a conservatory in Chicago, under the tutelage of Professor Auerbach. In Chicago, she lives in a room above a German bakery, where she takes her breakfasts and suppers. These small quarters do not distress her; indeed, she craves the solitude of her own will, her own piano, her own bed. She walks hungrily through Chicago, her appetite for life never disappointed by the thriving midwestern metropolis. She is beautiful, she is talented, and her young heart has never been broke. The year is 1901. At some point in everyone's life, you meet someone whom you think can lift you beyond where you are, to a place where you always wished to be, but weren't sure how to get there. For some, this crossroads leads to success; for others, to despair. For a time, Lucy Gayheart feels the assurance of a bright future reaffirmed daily. And then a tragedy strikes, an undreamed-of turn of events, something which happens every day, and yet which we never address, because it is unthinkable. So will Lucy allow tragedy to beat her down into an existence she has long scorned? Or will she find the mettle to not only endure, but to grow in the face of, her heartbreak? This book was published in 1935. Its syntax can be long-winded, but its imagery is unforgettable. The author conveys a deep love for her fellow man, and for the inexpressible promise of a young life. I believe there is a Lucy Gayheart in all of us.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Conlee on September 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This beautiful and tragic book ranks as one of my favorite Willa Cather novels. Nowhere else is a pervading sense of tragedy so well contrasted with the all-present beauty of nature. All of Cather's novels are pastoral, but none are quite as tragic as this one.
The story--similar to "The Song of the Lark"--follows an artistically gifted women out of her small town, and into a large city (Chicago) full of promise and angst. The adultry of the young artist falling in love with an older, married, successful artist has an Anna Karanina tinge (a book much admired by Cather): of subdued moral complexity. There are never blanket moral diatribes, but one gets the feeling that not all is well, especially near the end of the book.
Ultimately, this book is about the immortality of youth, and especially art. Cather admired art, in all its forms, which is profoundly reflected in this book.
(If you have read Alexander's Bridge, note also the similar metaphor of drowning: the weak bringing down the strong.)
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