“I was ten years old then; I had lost both my father and mother within a year, and my Virginia relatives were sending me out to my grandparents, who lived in Nebraska. I travelled in the care of a mountain boy, Jake Marpole, one of the “hands” on my father’s old farm under the Blue Ridge, who was now going West to work for my grandfather. Jake’s experience of the world was not much wider than mine. He had never been in a railway train until the morning when we set out together to try our fortunes in a new world.”
Jim Burden heads west for his new life, and Willa Cather’s My Antonia is told from his perspective, yet it is less the story of Jim Burden than it is of Antonia Shimerda, a free-spirited immigrant girl whose family arrives in the west without any knowledge of the land and unable to speak English.
It is also the story of our still-young country during the times of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the people who flocked to the West for their piece of land and life.
“I can remember exactly how the country looked to me as I walked beside my grandmother along the faint wagon-tracks on that early September morning. Perhaps the glide of long railway travel was still with me, for more than anything else I felt motion in the landscape; in the fresh, easy-blowing morning wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggy grass were a sort of loose hide, and underneath it herds of wild buffalo were galloping, galloping . . .”
If you enjoyed “Little House on the Prairie” when you were a kid, you will definitely enjoy My Antonia as an adult.
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BLOG ALERT! If you love reading blogs, here are five of my favorite posts from other blogs that I read this week:
http://stoltzfusinstrasburg.blogspot.com/2010/04/silver-haired-wisdom.html (make sure you read the comments at the bottom)
Check them out!
3 Replies to “My Antonia”
Shawn – thanks for this reminder of a book I remember my mother loving and commending to me, and a book I THOUGHT I remembered reading… until I failed to recognise a single element of the plot summary (including the “settler” context!).
I do remember that the mysterious Antonia pronounced her name in some exotically counter-intuitive way (to middle England me). My An-ton-eeeeee-ya. Or did I invent that as well?
You are right, Paula. The pronunciation emphasizes the 3rd syllable. It’s really a great book and a very quick read.
can you EVEN imagine how mortified I was when I saw that comment….I will admit I thought it was a practical joke at first, but after a few minutes I realized it’s 100% for real!!! Hey, I was just being honest…..but the comparison of that dear, precious lady to that WITCH!!!! OH, just shoot me now!!!!!!
Thanks for the “shout out”.
p.s. guest posting sounds like a plan. we’ll talk.
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