My Antonia (Review)

Labels: Great Works


My Antonia
Willa Cather, 1918
280 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
December 2007

Read this beautiful book. I should just stop here. So I will. On second thought, maybe not. At least I should explain. Truth is there's not much more to say about this American classic than what H.L. Mencken said in 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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