In One of Ours, Willa Cather explores the destiny of a grandchild of the pioneers, a young Nebraskan whose yearnings impel him toward a frontier bloodier and more distant than the one that vanished before his birth. It is a canny and vital portrait of an American psyche at once skeptical and romantic, restless and heroic.
(P)1998 Blackstone Audio Inc.
Yes. In fact, I plan to. I feel Cather has delivered a meaningful novel but I am too ignorant to translate it. I have marked this as re-readable because I want to read it again a few years from now. I would to relive Claude's struggle and perhaps understand him better than I did this time around. He deserves as much.
There are several memorable moments to this book. There was the time when Claude first found happiness in education - and then his father callously broke him. The last scene in the book was also quite memorable....but has admittedly caused me much confusion. I won't go into other examples so as not to spoil the story but they also don't seem to matter. I have fully accepted that I probably do not quite understand the book....but the more I think of it the more I question whether the book is about Claude at all....that it is instead about the change in American culture and customs from an Agricultural based economy to a more technology and convenience driven economy. I remain quite confused on the title.
Underwood's performance was very mechanical to me. Part of the joy of audiobooks is the benefit of having a bit of emotional play to the narration. Underwood was dry and business-like. I also didn't like how her voice made Claude's voice seem more feminine and tender.
It left me confused. It has been awhile since I have thought so much about a book after reading it. I have read dozens of reviews from others; 3-4 analyses of the book; a terribly-written college essay found on the internet. I feel like the book wants to tell me something and I want to hear it....I'm just not ready yet.
Half the book is about Claude's coming of age in the Midwest. He becomes disappointed with life as he grows into adulthood. He has to take over the family farm and end his university studies. Not only that, but he marries someone he shouldn't have. Cather writes well, but the protagonist and his plight is far from compelling. The other half is about Claude joining the military and fighting in World War I. Perhaps it's unfair, but I couldn't help but compare this to All Quiet on the Western Front. And the latter book covers all aspects of that war -- its horror and senselessness, its costs in lives and humanity -- much, much better.
Additionally, a lot of minor storylines are left unresolved. For example, his wife goes to China to help her ailing missionary sister and that's it. We never hear about her again.
I purchased this book because I really liked My Antonia, a masterpiece of Cather. I have read O'Pioneers-beautiful, but not like My Antonia. One of Ours was disappointing. Slow moving all throughout and the end was of no event.
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