Willa Cather, 1918
No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia.
The story revolves around European immigrants, in particular the Shimerda family and their lively daughter Antonia, as they eke out a bare existense in Nebraska at the end of the 19th century. We follow their hardships through the eyes of Jim Burden, who tells the story from a vantage point of about 30 years—a distancing technique used by Cather for some reason. (Truthfully, I need to think about why.)
What we take away from this story—or saga, really—is the grandeur of the country, the land, and our ancestors who struggled to become part of the American dream.
See our Reading Guide for My Antonia.
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