Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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O Pioneers! Kindle Edition
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|Kindle, October 1, 1997||
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
"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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book. I love reading books on western expansion. The writing was descriptive and beautiful. It seemed as though I could smell and feel the land and the people.Published 1 day ago by Diane Seguine
My goal this year is to read one classic per month, and I'm glad I chose this one to start. The development of our country was based upon these adventurous, brave individuals. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Gayle Padfield
Not the story for me but it might appeal to others. The plot was good but the story dragged and I only finished it because it was a book club choice.Published 17 days ago by Pat
A real classic. Extremely rich book, powerful characters including the land itself. Writing is very crisp and major ideas (role of women in society, how immigrants transition... Read morePublished 18 days ago by RHS
This book was a fast and easy read and informative about the time period about which it was written. I would like to have seen more in depth character development.Published 1 month ago by Carlson
I never read this when I was in school & was required. Great book! One can just feel the "love of the land" emanate off the pages.Published 2 months ago by Edith Starkey
I think that Willa Cather was a woman ahead of her time. The story was a wonderful read.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Enjoyed this novel a great deal.
The drama that played out in a small prairie town or even simply a widespread group of farms was tense. Read more
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