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My Antonia -What did you think?

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katrina 17th August 2006, 01:14 PM
Thumbs up
I finished this book a couple of days ago, and for me it was a book which I was rereading. I was surprised at how much I had remembered about the landscape and the setting of the novel. The countryside seems almost like another character as it is refered to so much and such an important part in the first half of the novel.
I always loved the Grandmas kitchen in the basement it seemed warm and iviting and the hub of their whole family life.

Antonia was enchanting, she had such a strong spirit and seemed so sure of everything she believed in
I always love the part with her family at the end, the busy family life, where everyone loves and defends the family

I thought it was interseting that the girls from the foreign families where more free to experience life than the girls from the American families, the foreign girls where independent, moved away, and set up businesses.

What did other people think?

Paul 17th August 2006, 02:40 PM
I'm only around 80 pages into it - but its my first time and I'm loving the whole feel of this book. The Characters are brilliantly drawn and so engaging ... the landscape and weather are certainly major characters -- I was shivering when reading it yesterday .....

I'll be back when I've finished it....

Momo 17th August 2006, 03:29 PM
Same here. I have only read a few chapters but I think the description of the characters and the landscape are so wonderful, this book is certainly worth reading.

Mungus 17th August 2006, 05:27 PM
I've just got to the 4th part. Started off loving it but I'm finding the later parts a real drag. I thought it was going to be a zippy read! I'm reserving judgement and will be back in due course.

Mungus 18th August 2006, 01:56 PM
Finished the book last night but I'm still not sure what I think. My initial reaction was that I didn't like it and I found the last part really hard going. I wasn't at all interested in Antonia's family or what had happened to her. The book is more a memoir than a story and I missed the lack of plot. I didn't find Antonia particularly captivating or interesting and I didn't think she featured enough to deserve to have the book named after her!

Then when I stopped to think a bit more and remembered when the book was written, I guess Antonia's character and behaviour become more extraordinary and more impressive. As Katrina has already said, the foreign girls certainly made more of their opportunities than the local girls.

All that said, I did love the opening two parts, first the country, then the town when the narrator was young. The descriptions of the harsh, endless environment were really powerful.

katrina 20th August 2006, 06:26 PM

I agree Mungus that the first part of the book was really the best part, and Antonia becomes only a minor character towards the end

Momo 21st August 2006, 08:02 AM
I don't know, at the end, the story still focusses around Ántonia.


Of course, she is grown up and has her own family but without her that family wouldn't exist or be the way they are.
I agree with Katrina that the foreign girls had more freedom than the American but that was certainly "normal" during that time. After all, in Europe the lower class girls had more freedom than the upper class ones as to jobs, marriage etc. And the foreign girls in America were certainly regarded as lower class.

I liked the book very much, overall, and even though I read here that it would get slower towards the end, I didn't have that feeling. Maybe because I was warned? I don't know. Anyway, I really enjoyed it.

Paul 22nd August 2006, 07:19 AM
I finished the book last night and I have to say I throughly enjoyed it. Rather than a real page turner I thought its episodic chapters did slow it down somewhat, but rather than a fault I thought it allowed me to dwell and think about what Cather was writing.

I did wonder whether the story was more about Jim Burdon rather than Antonia - it was written from his perspective, but really her character was the centrepiece for everything that was going on, and allowed me to get a true perspective of the actual timeline of the story. I thought it was wonderfully written, and as I said previously the descriptions of the landscape and houses were characters within the story. I did really escape to the cold winter and to the farmhouse - and then into Black Hawk. There was a simple naviety about the way of life then, but I did get the sense of that hardships and problems facing them -- but ultimately there was happiness.

So this was a book I probably wouldn't have picked up normally and that would have been my loss, a worthwhile read and one I'd certainly revisit again.

LesleyMP 23rd August 2006, 06:33 PM
I finished reading this book last night and thought it was lovely! I would never have selected this book for myself but, I have inherited 7 Willa Cather books recently (!) and when I saw that one of them was the BGO read - well I'd have been very silly not to!

I loved the fact that Antonia was the reference point to Jim's life, the person he came back to each time something important happened to him. When the book seems to drift away from her character, it is in fact Antonia (or the spirit of Antonia) that Jim always comes back to / looks to.

Oh and the landscape!



from Paul '.....the descriptions of the landscape and houses were characters within the story.'



from katrina '.....The countryside seems almost like another character.....'


I could not agree with you more! The description of the harsh winters, and the endless prairie landscape were fantastic!

Can you tell I liked it? I will definitely read the other books I have some time soon.

Mungus 23rd August 2006, 08:10 PM
I think the descriptions of the scenery and weather was the best bit about this book. They were very vivid and were constantly in my mind while I read the book. I'm currently reading Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier (another one that not my normal thing, but I'm off to Cornwall for the weekend!) and the first few chapters have a similarly strong athmospheric feel to them.

Momo 23rd August 2006, 09:49 PM



Originally Posted by LesleyMP
Can you tell I liked it? I will definitely read the other books I have some time soon.

Please, let us know about them once you finished reading. I have looked at the other titles and am very tempted to order some of them.
I agree with all of you, the description of the landscape is amazing. That's what I always think about first when I think about America, the wide spaces, the large fields. I'm from the countryside myself and the fields are pretty large, as well, but nothing compared to the American ones. The landscape felt peaceful but captivating.
I also liked the fact that this novel described the way the country was started. Most of those settlers were the first ones to try to cultivate the country. They did not only build the community, the social life but also the way they still farm the land there today. Fascinating.

donnae 26th September 2006, 02:40 PM
I had never heard of the book or the author before the Poll, and I didn't vote for it. I am very glad I read it though. The descriptions of both the landscape and the characters were so evocative. I had such vivid pictures in my head of the prairie and how the seasons affected it.

The struggles of Antonia's family show that the American Dream was not an easily achieved goal. I felt so sorry for Antonia's father, he wished to do the right thing for his family, but was so out of his depth. Antonia's life was harsh but she seemed more that content with it, when we meet with her at the end of the story.

I liked the strong characters of the women, especially Jim's grandmother, but I agree it did seem to be the immigrant girls that had more opportunities open to them.


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