My Antonia, by Willa Cather

My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)Finished 12-30-11, rating 3/5, classic fiction, 266 pages, pub. 1918

“I came to ask you something, Tony.  Grandmother wants to know if you can’t go to the term of school that begins next week over at the sod schoolhouse.  She says there’s a good teacher, and you’d learn a lot.”

Antonia stood up, lifting and dropping her shoulders as if they were stiff.  “I ain’t got time to learn.  I can work like mans now.  My mother can’t say no more how Ambrosch do all and nobody to help him.  I can work as much as him.  School is all right for little boys.  I help make this land one good farm.”

Chapter 17

Let me start by saying that we listened to the first half of this in the car on our holiday travels, but I could not make Jason listen to more.  He hated it.  He told me there was a good chance of him falling asleep while driving if we listened to more.  I had to agree that the audio wasn’t good.  The Bohemian accents were laughable to me and really ruined Antonia.  And it was fairly boring on the Nebraska farm.

Once home, I picked up the book and finished.  I am happy to report that it got better for me.  Jim, the narrator, who had crushed on Antonia since he was a boy on the farm moved to town with his grandparents and Antonia soon followed him, working at the house next door.  Their friendship had its ups and downs, but remained the dominant relationship in Jim’s life even decades later.

This is a great study of early Nebraska and the people who settled there, many foreigners who didn’t understand the land, the language, or the people. Foreigners like Antonia and her family.   Life working the land was hard and it could make people mean, but not Jim’s grandparents.  Jim went there to live with them after his mom and dad died back in Virginia and was blessed with a relatively easy life compared to some.

I thought this was alternately boring and interesting.  Just when something interesting would capture my interest it would be followed by pages of details that didn’t move the story along for me.  I think it’s a good study of one Nebraska farm girl’s life, but it may have been more compelling told from her point of view so that she was not just seen on the fringes of Jim’s life.

I would rate the first half/audio a 2 and the second half/paper a 3.5.  I read this for the states challenge and I do feel like I’ve been there.

This was from my personal library.

11 thoughts on “My Antonia, by Willa Cather

  1. mkowalewski says:

    It seemed like every class in high school read this except for mine and it took me years after graduation to actually pick it up, but when I did (finally), I really liked it. 🙂

  2. Mary says:

    Didn’t Hallmark Hall of Fame do a production of this novel? I haven’t read it but I do have another Cather on my shelf – one that belonged to my great-aunt. I think I’ll look for it. Poor Jason, I can see why he wouldn’t want to listen while driving 😉

  3. Stephanie D. says:

    Poor Jason! I admit that an account of life on a Nebraska farm doesn’t sound very appealing. I’m glad I never had to read this in any of my English classes. Kudos to you for picking it up!


  4. Jo-Jo says:

    I remember reading this with my book club a year or so ago and thinking that although I enjoyed the writing, I also thought it was boring. I can only imagine that the audio would be excruciating! lol

  5. Caspette says:

    Its amazing how audio format can kill a book. I actually really like the sound of this book. Wonder if it is available in Australia? Thanks for the review and glad Jason didn’t fall asleep at the wheel!

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