Sunday, October 24, 2021

O Pioneers!

O Pioneers!O Pioneers! 
by Willa Cather
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off." (p. 59)
This is such a beautiful book! Cather captures the beauty and the sadness of the prairie through both descriptions of the land and the thoughts and feelings of her characters. Alexandra Bergson, who is the center of the novel, is a wise, stoic woman who accepts the heavy responsibilities handed to her with grace and good sense. 
This book was originally published in 1913 and is set in Nebraska 30 years earlier. The (fictitious) French settlement of Sainte-Agnes plays a large part in the story. There is an interesting article, by Kathleen Danker, on the influence on Cather of her French neighbors which describes the French-Canadian town of Campbell, Nebraska. My great-grandparents, who were French-Canadian immigrants, lived in Campbell at the time this novel is set which added to my enjoyment of it. 


  1. I found my way to your blog via the Nonfiction November challenge, but as I scrolled down, I spotted this review. I love Cather and O Pioneers! is a favorite, as is My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop. I lived in Nebraska for nearly 25 years before moving to Oregon and Cather captures the beauty of the landscape as if painting with words. Lovely review, Mary!

    1. Thanks! I lived in Nebraska when I was little (just like Cather I was moved to a totally new landscape in my first decade of life) and my parents were both from there so her depictions of that landscape are special to me.


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