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O Pioneers! [Kindle Edition]

Willa Cather , Doris Grumbach
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)

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Book Description

O Pioneers!, Willa Cather's first great novel, is the classic American story of pioneer life as embodied by one remarkable woman and her singular devotion to the land. Alexandra Bergson arrives on the wind-blasted prairie of Nebraska as a young girl and grows up to turn it into a prosperous farm. In this unforgettable story,Cather conveys both the physical realities of the landscape, as well as the mythic sweep of the transformation of the frontier, more faithfully and perhaps more fully than any other work of fiction.


Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—This work, written in 1913, was the first in Cather's "Great Plains" trilogy, and it was followed by The Song of the Lark and My Antonia. Strong-willed, intelligent Alexandra Bergson is the daughter of Swedish immigrants. She inherits her father's farmland instead of it being left to her brothers, Emil, Oscar, and Lou, because she has the vision and foresight to try new crops, buy additional lands, and take risks in order to reap future rewards. Cather's poetic and lyrical writing captures the Nebraska prairie and rolling hills. Using a variety of voices and capturing the dialects of the various immigrants who inhabit the novel, reader Betsy Bronson is impeccable. Her melodic voice imbues Cather's words with the sentiments of love, envy, jealousy, and peace that drive the story. This recording is delightful and leaves one with the understanding and appreciation that the land is always there for those who take time to truly see and appreciate it.—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, Mt. Carmel

Review

"A direct, human tale of love and struggle and attainment -- American in the best sense of the word." -- New York Times The New York Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 238 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0395083656
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 1, 1997)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IPPW42
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,891 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
114 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For a Dream, there is a Price February 2, 2002
Format:Paperback
Cather published her second novel, O Pioneers, in 1913 at the age of 40. Together with My Antonia it is the novel for which she is best known. Years after writing the book, Cather wrote of it " Since I wrote this book for myself, I ignored all the situations and accents that were then thought to be necessary."
The book takes place on the plains of Nebraska in the late 19th Century as the Prairie is settled be Swedish, Bohemian, and French immigrants trying to eke out a living from what appears to be a harsh, inhospitable land. The heroine of the book is Alexandra Bergson who inherits her father's farm as a young woman, raises his three sons and stays with the farm through the harsh times to become a successful landowner and farmer.
The books speaks of being wedded to the land and to place. In this sense it is an instance of the American dream of a home. It also speaks of a strong woman, not in cliched, late 20th Century terms but with a sense of ambiguity, difficulty and loss.
This is a story as well of thwarted love, of the difficult nature of sexualtiy, and of human passion. There is also the beginning of what in Cather's works will become an increased sense of religion, Catholicism in particular, as a haven and a solace for the sorrow she finds at the heart of human endeavor. Above all it is a picuure of stark life in the midwest.
There is almost as much blood-letting in this short book as in an Elizabethan tragedy. Cather's picture of American life on the plains, even in her earliest books, is not an easy or simple one. Some readers may quarrel with the seemingly happy ending of the book. I don't think any will deny that Alexandra's happiness is dearly bought or that it is bittersweet.
I tendend to shy away from this book in favor of Cather's later novels.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O what a classic! October 30, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In "O Pioneers!", her classic novel first published in 1913, Willa Cather wrote, "The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman." By revealing to us the hearts of those pioneer immigrants in this book, Cather offers a moving meditation on United States culture and history.
"O Pioneers!" tells the story of a community in Nebraska farm country. Her main character, Alexandra Bergson, is a Swedish immigrant. Cather creates a marvelous portrait of the community and its rich mix of European ethnic groups: Norwegian, Swedish, French, etc. It is especially fascinating to see the multicultural, multiethnic world they created in the United States. Cather also depicts the cultural and linguistic "shift" that takes place along generational lines.
Cather's story deals with issues of economics, gender roles, and sexuality. In addition to the formidable Alexandra, she creates a cast of compelling characters. And her luminous prose style evokes all of the sensations of Alexandra's world: the smell of ripe wheat, the chirping of insects in the long grass, the golden play of light in an apple orchard.
But this is Alexandra's book. She is a great American heroine who reminds me of such beloved characters as Zora Neale Hurston's Janie (from "Their Eyes Were Watching God") or Alice Walker's Celie (from "The Color Purple"). Like those great characters, Alexandra will break your heart, deeply touch your soul, and ultimately leave you feeling richer for having known her.
Finally, as an interesting companion text to "O Pioneers!" try "Anna Christie," the 1922 play by U.S. writer Eugene O'Neill. O'Neill's life and career were contemporary with Cather's, and "Anna Christie," like "O Pioneers!", deals with a Swedish immigrant woman in the United States.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The true pioneering spirit December 21, 2009
Format:Paperback
Some writers are identified with a particular country or region, others with a specific period in history. Willa Cather is known for both. When I think of her, I think of the prairie states, especially Nebraska, and I think of the days of the intrepid pioneers of the prairies, struggling to make a life for themselves that was tenuous, at best.

Although Cather spent only a few years of her childhood on the vast prairie lands of Nebraska, she returned to those memories again and again in her most powerful and famous fiction, such as My Antonia and The Song of the Lark.

The title of one of her celebrated novels, O Pioneers! is rather unique in that it has an exclamation point at the end of it. Think about it: how many other book titles do you know that have exclamation points? That sense of breathlessness, excitement, and fierce determination which is conveyed in the very look of the title O Pioneers! comes across from the very first pages of this novel.

This is the story of Alexandra Bergson and her family who risk everything they have to carve out a home in the unforgiving Nebraska landscape. Alexandra is forced at a very young age to take on the responsibility for her mother and brothers after her father dies. Before he dies, her father makes Alexandra, his most trusted child, promise to keep the farm and to make it thrive. This she does, although at a high personal cost.

The novel is a short one and moves quickly from decade to decade. It begins with a touching scene involving Alexandra's youngest brother Emil, whose stray kitten is rescued by Alexandra's best friend, Carl. The moment is a sweet one, and all ends well; but this is perhaps the only time in the book that we see problems so easily and satisfactorily resolved.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I enjoyed the book for its history but it was a little predictable.
Published 22 hours ago by Ann Memmott
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story
I didn't even realize that this was part of a trilogy when I first read it, as it works very well on its own apparently. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Peter Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE OF LIFE, LOVE OF LAND, BEAUTY OF THE PRAIRIES
This book is short but encompasses so much. This is the story of pioneers, some from foreign lands, others American born who are tameing the land. Read more
Published 25 days ago by josephine briggs
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This book really captured the difficulty of the times.
Published 1 month ago by Eileen M. Bannat
3.0 out of 5 stars It was a good story with a quick ending
It was a good story with a quick ending. I like Cather's other works better as this one seemed to ramble.
Published 1 month ago by Gina Mynsberge
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Super tightly crafted and highly evocative read. Highly recommended
Published 1 month ago by DinBrussels
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
extremely well written and provoked a lot of thought
Published 2 months ago by John R. Whiffen
5.0 out of 5 stars Willa Cather, Willa Cather
Human experience on this earth, circa early 1900's, midwest America. Beautifully written, dreamlike, a memory; scenes of poverty, almost overwhelming despair, scenes of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Randy Stark
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Days on American Frontier
Good novel. Much like "The Jungle" in terms of depicting the trials and tribulations experienced in an earlier difficult time.
Published 3 months ago by Fred A. Gray
4.0 out of 5 stars Willa Cather is marvelous.
This was another beautiful book by Willa Cather. I recommend picking up one her books this summer if you've never read her work.
Published 3 months ago by K. Spangler
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