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One of Ours (Literary Classics) Paperback – May 1, 2004
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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About the Author
Willa Sibert Cather (1873 - 1947) was born in Virginia but spent most of her young adult life in Nebraska. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, she moved to Pittsburgh, where she worked as an editor for two small publications and then taught high-school English. She then moved to New York City and became the managing editor at McClure's Magazine from 1906 to 1912. Among her many novels are Alexander's Bridge, O Pioneers!, Song of the Lark, My Antonia, One of Ours, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Death Comes for the Archbishop, Shadows on the Rock, and many other works.
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Claude is one of those young men who truly finds himself, defines himself, when he discovers (after becoming a soldier) that ideas are more important than possessions or manufactured things. Willa Cather strategically laid the plans for Claude's moral development by making him a free-thinking humanist during college, and by bringing him together with intellectual people like the Ehrlich family in Lincoln, Nebraska. Where Willa Cather excels way beyond her contemporaries and even in the bright light of today's literary environment, is in character development. As I read this book, I felt like I was living in the Wheeler's farmhouse, feeling the emotions of Claude, his mother, and the old cook named Mahailey. I began to feel these people--as one does in reading a really good book--as my companions for a week or two, and they would cross my mind at odd moments, like friends of mine. They were very well sketched, understandable and even predictable at times (as when Claude chooses to follow his illusions about marriage and hooks up with the frigid Enid).
The end of the book, while difficult, is the best culmination for those characters during that period in history. A great read.
Her characters are genuine and believable. The main character, Claude Wheeler, is especially well drawn and allowed to develop as situations merit while the story moves along.
We are presented with a young man who cannot adjust to his role as a prosperous farmer's son. He wants an education but his reluctance to confront his father forces him into a second rate Bible college and even then he's required to drop out to take up his farm duties.
World War I intervenes and as he leads men into battle his life begins to have meaning.
Cather's sense of irony finds the reader again and again. This is a gripping tale of camaraderie and and pluck as only battle can define it. Cather spent time in France to lend geographic authenticity to the story. Oddly, she finds meaning and beauty in the devastation and destruction.
There may be better novels about WWI. There probably are. But this is outstanding. No one will regret having read it.