My Antonia by Willa Cather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My Antonia is classic American historical fiction set in Nebraska in the 1880s.
It is told by Jim Burden, who met Antonia when they were both children. Jim was going to Black Hawk to live with his grandparents, while Antonia came with her family from Bohemia. Living close to each other, they quickly became friends.
This story tells of harsh pioneering times, when people spread across America in search of a better future. They tamed the land, withstood the seasons and the hardships that Mother Nature threw at them and many thrived. Antonia took to life on the land with ease, doing the work of men for many years. Her friendship with Jim drifted at times, especially when he left to study and become a lawyer, but, years later, they renewed their acquaintance.
I enjoy stories of early settlers and their strengths against adversity; I find them both humbling and motivating. This story involves a range of immigrants and their stories were all interesting; each worked hard for themselves and the future of their families. It makes me wonder how much the next generation and the ones after that really appreciated the hardships of their forefathers.
First published in 1918, this is a snapshot of a long past era. Even during the telling of this story change happened and progress marched confidently forward. Ideal for anyone, like me, who enjoys dipping back in history and losing themselves for a few hours of reading.
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My Antonia tells the stories of an orphaned boy from Virginia, Jim Burden, and the elder daughter in a family of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia Shimerda, who are each brought to be pioneers in Nebraska towards the end of the 19th century, as children. Ántonia must work as a servant on the farms of her neighbors after her father commits suicide. She elopes with a railway conductor but returns home and eventually becomes the patient and strong wife of a Bohemian farmer, Anton Cuzak, the mother of a large family and a typical woman of the pioneer West.
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