Thursday, January 30, 2014

O Pioneers!

My book group read this Willa Cather book for our discussion last week, and while there were mixed reviews, most of us liked it. We had all really enjoyed reading My Antonia several years ago, and while we probably liked that better, there was much to appreciate in this book, especially Cather's gift for description, the love for the land,  and the strong woman character.  O Pioneers is the story of Swedish immigrants who settled in Nebraska at the turn of the 20th century. Alexandra Bergson inherits her family's farm, and she spends her life making a prosperous and successful life on the prairie. I find it refreshing to read a book like this once in awhile...Cather's writing is spare and beautiful, and the story is simple, with a little bit of history, adventure, and romance. There were many passages in the book that I liked, but as a gardener, this one really resonated with me.

"Marie sat sewing or crocheting and tried to take a friendly interest in the game, but she was always thinking about the wide fields outside, where the snow was drifting over the fences; and about the orchards, where the snow was falling and packing, crust over crust. When she went out into the dark kitchen to fix her plants for the night, she used to stand by the window and look out at the white fields or watch the currents of snow whirling over the orchard. She seemed to feel the weight of all the snow that lay down there. The branches had become so hard that they wounded your hand if you but tried to break a twig. And yet, down under the frozen crusts, at the roots of the trees, the secret of life was still safe, warm as the blood in one's heart; and the spring would come again! Oh, it would come again!"

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