10 May 2007

O Pioneers! - Willa Cather

Date: May 10, 2007
Recommendation: The best 120-page novel you will ever read.

While reading this book, you can’t help but think of Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth, or even Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. O Pioneers tells the story of the Bergsons, a Swedish family that immigrated to Nebraska at the end of the 19th Century, much like many other European settlers.

Although only a novella, Cather manages to give the reader a strong attachment to the characters, not by so much what she says as by what she doesn’t say. Much like Steinbeck and Buck, Cather allows the land and soil to enrich the characters by creating context to their endeavours. The reader is left with the sense that the weaknesses of the flesh are but of ephemeral importance in comparison to the permanence of the land.

“We come and go, but the land is always here.” – Alexandra Bergson