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My Antonia | [Willa Cather]

My Antonia

Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland, with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society's heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia.
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Publisher's Summary

Widely recognized as Willa Cather's finest book and one of the outstanding novels of American literature, My Antonia details of the life of early American pioneers in Nebraska.

Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland, with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society's heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia.

Infused with a gracious passion for the land, My Antonia is a deeply moving portrait of an entire community and its way of life.

Bonus: In partnership with Audible and Playtone, the television and film producer behind the award-winning series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, this audiobook includes an original introduction, written and read by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns. For more from Audible and Playtone, click here.


(P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia." (H. L. Mencken)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (476 )
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4.1 (273 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tammy 11-09-07
    Tammy 11-09-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enthralling!!"

    Excellent description and step back in time. You felt like you were right there. It is refreshing to read a historical novel without all the depressing blood and guts and suspense of the modern books.

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin Midland, TX, USA 05-11-08
    Kevin Midland, TX, USA 05-11-08 Member Since 2008
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    "A Wonderful Book"

    My Antonia was a wonderful book, one of the best I have ever heard or read. The narrator for this audible book is outstanding, bringing the characters to life, speaking as they would speak. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 11-21-11
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 11-21-11 Member Since 2010
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    "A well written, occasionally sappy, memoir"

    I enjoyed this book, although I'd call it a memoir rather than a novel. I say that because it doesn't have much dramatic structure, and it consists in a series of remembrances. The characters portrayed are lively; the detailed account of how life was for children Nebraska around the beginning of the twentieth century is interesting. Cather can certainly bring a world to life in pose. My one criticism was that I found it sometimes a bit sappy. Yes, some bad things happen to people; there is poverty, depression, suicide and unwanted pregnancy. But the constant nostalgia--of the Bohemians for their old country and of the narrator for his childhood--can grow wearing. The narration is very good.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 03-31-14
    Amazon Customer Utah 03-31-14 Member Since 2009

    tired teacher

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    "Good book"

    "My Antonia" (emphasis on the "i") has been on my "to-read" list for a very long time. Oddly, I ended up with three versions of this book: Physical book, Kindle edition, and audio. I read all of them simultaneously. (I love doing that!) It is beautifully written by the great Willa Cather, and I understand it is very much autobiographical. Basically, it is the story of the Great Melting Pot, how foreign born families immigrated to the United States, specifically the Great Plains, and did their best to fit in, make a living, and give their children an opportunity that could not be had anywhere else in the world. It was not an easy life. These families left everything they knew, even their native languages, to come to the great unknown, with the promise of a better life. My own great-grandparents left Denmark in the late 1800s, in a similar time frame and reason as the people in this book, and brought their three young sons with them, boys who would never know their native land, or ever see it again. That takes guts, and these were gutsy people. Antonia was a strong, smart girl who grew up to raise a big family in the best way she knew how. I admire her.

    With all this said, it is not the most compelling book I have ever read. Yes, I cared about the characters, and was involved with their lives, but it is not a serious page turner. It is an easy read, and may be best read by a young adult. In my opinion, it is a good book, and has many elements that make it very worthwhile reading. I just don't think I would categorize it as great. The narrator of the audio book was good, but not great either. He was easy to listen to and did a good job of reading it, but I was always conscious of his reading. He didn't suck me into the story the way a really great narrator can.

    Bottom line: I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about pioneers, and how our country became "e pluribus unum."

    28 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Brandon, MB, Canada 04-19-08
    Karen Brandon, MB, Canada 04-19-08 Member Since 2004
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    "applause for a classic"

    This is a must read/listen for anyone interested in pioneers of the Great Plains area of Canada and the US. Cather's descriptions are extremely well-written giving a great sense of place without excess wordiness. Her characters as well are developed through their deeds, actions and words without volumes of text to support them.As a result, the characters become 'real' humans, filled with loyalites,contradictions and dilemmas of everyday life. Finally, this book recalls a time when the influence of a natural landscape was most profound. Fans of prairie and pioneer history will truly enjoy this classic.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Swierczewski Ozone Park, NY, United States 04-12-11
    Swierczewski Ozone Park, NY, United States 04-12-11
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    "Uplifting In So Many Ways"

    This story would be an absolute pleasure to read in the pages of a book and having the narration that it did only enhanced my infatuation with it. It's the language of Cather's, that masters the landscape and captures the essence of those people closest to Jim, that lets the narrator effortlessly tell this story and the listener feel like he's the one looking back.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Banff, AB, Canada 02-20-13
    Kathleen Banff, AB, Canada 02-20-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Still Relevant"
    What made the experience of listening to My Antonia the most enjoyable?

    The narrator made this book come alive for me. I could imagine the landscape and the characters because of Cather's description but also because of the way Jeff Cummings read the story. Somehow Cummings' voice seemed like part of the environment and kept me listening for hours.


    What other book might you compare My Antonia to and why?

    W.O. Mitchell's "Who Has Seen the Wind?" has many of the same qualities - the young boy who is learning about the hard life on the prairie and who can observe others who are struggling through hard times. Both Jim and Brian have families who give them security and ground them. Both authors love the prairie landscape as well.


    Have you listened to any of Jeff Cummings’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Not that I am aware of.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I found I wanted a break to savour some of the images and characters but I looked forward with anticipation to the next time I could listen the rest of the story.


    Any additional comments?

    I chose this book because of listening to Michael Enright on CBC's Sunday Edition where he described of the effects that this book had on him. As I enjoy listening to Mr. Enright who makes me think and challenges me, I wanted to hear this book so that I could understand what made him so excited. I am glad that I did.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-08-12 Member Since 2011

    Nurse by day, gangster knitter & book listener by night. Married w 2 girls, 3 dogs & many woodland creatures. Love Twain & meditation.

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    "Classic"
    What made the experience of listening to My Antonia the most enjoyable?

    Wanting to see what happened next... I loved how the story unfolded and the narrator did a most wonderful job.


    What other book might you compare My Antonia to and why?

    There is none. It is pure and honest Americana at its best... a time capsule where you walk out onto that prairie and feel the dust blowing across your face. It is everything... coming of age, love, jealousy, anger, and fighting for what you believe in most.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The dance hall.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes! I actually listened to it as I travelled across the state.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Camille Erda, UT, USA 12-17-08
    Camille Erda, UT, USA 12-17-08
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    "Great Narration!"

    This narration was excellent. The accents of the characters were right on and made the whole story come to life. A great easy-going read.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy L. Walters Erda, UT, United States 08-29-12
    Tracy L. Walters Erda, UT, United States 08-29-12 Member Since 2002

    bubbles

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    "Antonia.....what a beautiful name....."

    Antonia.....what a beautiful name.....and what a lovely and wonderful character for this dear little book. I just adored Antonia and how lively and bright she was throughout the entire book. Although she suffered great and grand hardships along the way of life....she never let her stop from seeing the 'silver lining' in every piece of her life. She was a beautiful girl who grew into a battered old woman by the end of the book but because of her beautiful soul.....she still continued to shine and give so much to those around her. Antonia's own children were just darling and they loved and adored her so much. They were always by her side and often begged her to tell them stories of her life as a young girl and woman.

    Jim was her best friend from the time they met as young children through adulthood and even though they had been separated by years of being in different places in their lives......they found that when they met again.....they had never stopped loving each other and would always be best friends.

    This is a sweet little book that gives you a glimpse into the lives of immigrant pioneers and the difficult times they had in trying to live in a world that was so different from their homelands...and Antonia is the center of this world and she brings all the people around her together to enjoy her love of life and desire to succeed. I had the best time reading this book and am so glad I just happened to find it by accident.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 34 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
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  • Mirium
    SAFFRON WALDEN, Essex, United Kingdom
    7/18/09
    Overall
    "Sweet, but vaguely disappointing"

    This was a very sweet book - wonderfully evocative of a time and place, but ultimately I found it unsatisfactory. I kept expecting there to be some sort of plot, but it was just a (beautifully-described) series of events. At the end it just seemed to tail off into nothing......

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Helena
    Stroud, United Kingdom
    2/9/08
    Overall
    "Pioneering life, love and loss on the prairie"

    As I am unfamiliar with pioneering history and American literature in general, I was not sure if I'd like this; but the love of the land shone through from the beginning and had me hooked immediately. The author's knowledge of Nebraska and her changing seasons is as deep as Thomas Hardy's feeling for his native Wessex. The separate but intermingled tales of the immigrant families and their unequal struggle to settle the land; their later drift away from the land towards town; their homesickness; the struggle of the girls, whose work is never finished and who must yet not be seen to enjoy themselves, all conjure up an exquisite picture of small-town Nebraska and its social mores.

    The narration jarred at first, the pace seeming a little fast, but I soon adjusted. I have listened to this book for a little over a week, and on finishing it feel saddened, as if waving goodbye to an old friend.

    My own comparison of this work with Thomas Hardy's novels had made we wonder if this too would have a tragic ending. I'm pleased to observe that Cather's charcters were not similarly fated: hope survives, interspersed with tragedies great and small. All in all, a true classic, engaging as it does with the broad themes of journeying and returning; of the roles of love, memory, and landscape. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Joanne
    Brighton, United Kingdom
    1/29/11
    Overall
    "Excellent"

    This it the best audiobook I've ever listened to. Not only is My Antonia beautifully written and full of memorable characters, but the narrator does a fantastic job of bringing the novel to life. He reads at just the right speed (brisk, but not in a rush) and his accents are wonderful. Each time I pressed play I found myself listening for much longer than I'd intended because the plot and storytelling captivated me. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    7/26/11
    Overall
    "A charming book!"

    I really enjoyed this lovely book and have no hesitation in recommending it! The beautiful descriptions of the Nebraska scenery, the characters, their personalities, were all brought very much to life by the excellent narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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