Monday, 16 November 2009

Book Review: My Ántonia

my antoniaMy Ántonia by Willa Cather

Category: Fiction

Synopsis: A story of young women on the American frontier (Nebraska). The story focuses primarily on the title character Ántonia and the rather hard life she end up leading as an immigrant woman in the American west. We also get to see the life of several other pioneer women and the choices they have made.

My Thoughts: I loved this book. It was well written. It had me gripped.
I loved that it portrayed the many different aspects of pioneer life. The hypocrisies, the joys and a the sorrows. I also liked that it was told from the perspective of a man who knew these women. It gave an impression of the women that I had not expected. One can tell that the author is female but I find it interesting that she uses a male to tell her story. I wonder if a man at the time would have seen and commented on the things that the narrator commented on?

I liked that the story followed several different women and showed them as independent characters, capable of taking care of themselves. The girls are all strong and learn to use their strengths to help themselves but also each other, despite what society around them might think.

One aspect that I found very relevant both for the time when the story was written and set and for today was the hypocrisies surrounding men and women and their roles. At the same time as the girls were capable of hard work and industry was admired a girl who worked at a “mans job” was seen as somehow less of a woman. She was looked down upon and talked about. I still find these attitudes today. The women themselves were doing it to survive and to help their families survive something that was required but they were seen as less than the women who lived in town.

Another significant aspect of which I had not thought about was the attitude of the Americans towards the newly arrived immigrants. The immigrants worked hard and were motivated but were often seen as having looser morals and differing attitudes. Lets be honest and say that this attitude still prevails in many societies today (my own included). It is an attitude I find sad.

I read this for both the Fall Into Reading and Women Unbound challenges. It fits really well into the Women Unbound challenge as it covers so many aspects of being a woman then and now. A truly timeless book that my students will be reading in the future.


Care said...

Wonderful review. I've always resisted Willa Cather for some odd unexplained reason. Maybe because I've lived in Nebraska and thus had to read something NON-Nebraska? not sure. Should probably analyze, maybe someday.

Amanda said...

I thought this book was okay, but later read Death Comes for the Archbishop and loved it far more. Still, it was well written.

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

What a great review! The book sounds fascinating. That is really interesting that she chose a male narrator for the story. Do you think it makes the story more or less believable? I mean, do you think that a male would necessarily have caught on some of the subtler subtext in women's relationships? Does it say something about women needing a man to be their mouthpiece? And if so, can a man really serve that function? I haven't read the book, so I don't really know what does go on and what he catches. But it is an interesting dynamic. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Aarti said...

Great review! I have this book on my shelf, but haven't read it. My sister got it for a class one year. This review certainly makes me want to read it!

J.C. Montgomery said...

I've had this on my shelf for a bit, and am inspired to take it out right now.

Thank you for a thoughtful and enlightening review.

Kristen M. said...

This is one of the first adult novels that my mom ever suggested I read but now it's been years since the last time I read it. I need to go dust off my copy and revisit it!

Zee said...

I found Jades questions above intriguing so I answered them in my Sunday Salon post here

Shellie (Layers of Thought) said...

This is one of all time favorite books. Over the years I have read it 3 times and each time I have loved it just as much. :)
I am so glad you enjoyed it.