LBC3Reads – Book 04 – O Pioneer! – Willa Cather
Alexandra Bergson is the eldest child of a Swedish immigrant family newly arrived in the harsh untamed landscape of the American West. An original, determined child, she is driven by two forces: her fierce protective love for her younger brother, and a deep love of the beautiful country she has come to regard as her own. When her father dies, it is she who becomes the head of the family and struggles to soften the wild overgrown soil that surrounds her, nurturing it until, finally, it rewards her with a richness beyond measure..
Unfortunately, my notes from this discussion are very brief, so this will be the primary points, not a full recap. Sorry! I’m getting better at more immediate posting so hopefully this won’t happen again!
We very much enjoyed this book and found the writing to be very effective. The first in the Great Plains trilogy – there are two further books with unrelated plots. This is a story of the land and features a family of farmers…rather than the other way around.
We liked Alexandra though she was a very very VERY good person; far better a person than I would have been, especially with regards to Frank (though I think genuine repentance seems to have played a part in her forgiving spirit – we did acknowledge that in her eyes Emil and Marie were at least partially to blame.). She was also a bit emotionally naive. Personally I rejoiced when she finally realised that she loved Carl – I’d been getting a bit impatient. Character wise, the two brothers appeared at first glance to be a touch stereotypical of men of the period. They never seemed entirely happy with their fathers decision and their reaction to Carl was deeply frustrating and very selfish as well as being solidly rooted in sexism – after all, no one could have objected to their wives marrying in.
The elopement between Marie and Frank was painfully true to that old adage ‘marry in haste, repent in leisure’. The subsequent abusive relationship where the husband blamed everyone for anything that went wrong rather than accept his own faults was pretty grim; more so because of the societal tolerance of it. Conversely, the social acceptance of the affair was easier to understand. Frank did not even try. The book had seemed to be a moment in time, with not much actually happening, up until the affair. The affair itself was short lived but overshadowed the rest of the story and had Alex been aware of it; we agreed that she wouldn’t have approved and would have tried to put a stop to it.
Then I must have become engrossed in the discussion because I have nothing on the dreams, on Carl’s return, on the murders or any of the relaly *interesting* stuff which I know that we did mention!
My final scribble did state that it was noted by one book clubber that while this worked as a book, he wasn’t sure how it would translate onto a screen, especially as the sections worked as vignettes of life.
Posted on February 9, 2015, in All Posts, Avid Reader, Book Club, Books, LBC 3 Reads, LBC Book Reviews and tagged Alexandra Bergson, book club, immigrant family, LBC3Reads, o pioneers!, willa cather. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.