Sunday, 6 April 2014

My Antonia, by Willa Cather

Why I read it: Western Canon

Podcasts: CBC Ideas

Brow: Upper Middle, but only if you already know how to pronounce the title character's name. Middle if you had to wait until Julia Turner said it on the Slate Culture Gabfest.

Summary: Jim Burden arrives in Nebraska at his grandparents' prosperous farm following the death of his parents back in Virginia. On the train with him is a poor but educated family of Bohemians who have bought a farm down the road. Jim is assigned by his grandmother to teach the oldest daughter, who is a few years his elder, English. The two strike up a lifelong friendship that endures even after Jim moves to town, finishes high school, and goes off to college, but is held back from turning into a romance by the gulf of social class. Years later, Jim, who has never married, returns and visits Antonia.

But should you read it? If you're a fan of Little House on the Prairie and doomed romances, this is definitely the book for you. If you get angry when two characters so obviously well-suited to each other are kept apart by their families' and society's expectations, perhaps you should give up on media altogether. It's also quite short at just 250 pages, probably just enough to tide you over during a train journey from Virginia to Nebraska.

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