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A Lost Lady

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,078 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
Written from the perspective of a male narrator, Willa Cather's classic novel is an American version of "Madame Bovary". It is a portrait of a talented woman trapped in the conventions and economic restraints of a marriage. It is the story of a woman who defies expectations, and whose personal changes coincide with the transforming American Frontier. In this work, Willa Ca ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Signet Classics (first published 1923)
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Feb 07, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half.

The elegant, beautiful Marian Forrester captivates not only her older husband, Captain Forrester, an elderly railroad pioneer, but also everyone she meets. She has energy, spirit and a passionate nature which helps in her move to the small town of Sweet Water, but she is also reckless and vulnerable. Captain Forrester values his wife and basks in her glory. He makes allowances for her behaviour and accepts her with an open heart.

This slim novel is powerful and very moving. Beauti
Jun 08, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Earlier this year, in the Fall, my family decided to go through all of my grandma's old books. She was a literature professor, so this was a pretty big task. My aunt boxed them all up and brought them in her van to the family reunion. My mom and her two sisters spent an entire morning going through the books, dividing them up like players in a fantasy football draft. I came in later and set a few aside for myself. I was looking at this book, A Lost Lady, when my cousin came in and told me how in ...more
May 25, 2015 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-usa, l-hbloomcanon
Há livros que me vejo perdida para opinar qualquer coisa sobre eles. Este por exemplo...
Comprei-o por instinto numa qualquer feira do livro e, provavelmente, morreria sem o ler caso não deparasse, num outro livro, com a referência à genialidade de Willa Cather.
Embora este não seja considerado o seu melhor romance, a sua leitura é um prazer, quer pela escrita - delicada e cativante -, quer pela história que conta: a de Marian Forrester, uma mulher que não renuncia ao amor, mesmo indo contra as c
May 31, 2009 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads-2009
A young man grows up worshiping an older, gracious woman but he can't forgive her for choosing a vigorous, full life over his youthful, staid definition propriety. You can feel his angst over his puppy love for her battling the static vision he needs from her. She however, has her own longing to keep living and loving to her fullest ability. They both find a type of peace in the end.

Cather explores how well we can actually know and understand others. As a young woman the aging heroine married a
Sep 14, 2014 Anastasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2012

La "signora perduta" che sta al centro di questo romanzo vive nel vecchio West. E' bellissima, nobile, affascina tutti. La vediamo attraverso gli occhi di un ragazzo che nulla ama al mondo quanto farle visita. Ma la "signora perduta" cela in sé un'attrazione per qualcosa tra il losco e il sordido, una sorta di perverso desiderio di degradazione.

Io mi chiedo che abbia capito l'Adelphi di questo libro se la descrizione e la sua reale essenza non potrebbero essere più diversi di così. Una signo
Mar 19, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This was one of those books that I felt was only okay while I was reading it, but when I finished it and started analyzing it, I really appreciated and enjoyed it. Cather is really growing on me as an author. I like her understated prose, and I like that her characters can simultaneously be symbols, yet vibrant and complex people that defy simple descriptions.

Cather thought of this book as a character study, which is gutsy, as Marian is narrated almost entirely through other people (and men, at
The pity is that I was first introduced to Willa Cather while in grade school. She was force fed to me because, surprise-surprise, I grew up in Nebraska. It has taken me years to come back around and give her a fair shake.

And yet, I still don't like this novel. Its an easy read, most of her works are. Thats not to say they are simple, just very aesthetic. She is a minimalist in her writing, and can do in a few short words what it takes other authors pages to do. Its her style, and she is marvell
Sep 07, 2009 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I continue to be amazed at the consistency of Willa Cather's work. As far as my favorite fiction writers go, only Flannery O'Connor comes close, but her published output is also significantly smaller than Cather's.

This is the sixth of Cather's books that I've read, and I honestly only picked this one because it's short and I needed something I could breeze through after slogging through Faulkner's The Unvanquished (which isn't especially long itself). Cather's also been a reliable bet, and A Los
Gertrude & Victoria
A Lost Lady is both an outstanding portrait of transitional America as well as a character sketch of a pioneering woman in a small prairie town of the central plains: Mrs. Marian Forrester. Her husband is an aging older man, influential and wealthy, who made his fortune in the railroad business. She is a woman with charm, passion, and intelligence, admired by many in the rural town of Sweet Water. The story follows her life, a life seemingly of quiet satisfaction and steadfast loyalty, through t ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Nikol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't you just love it when you pick up a novel without knowing anything about it? That's what happened with this one, and the one dollar I paid for this is what I call well-spent money.

It took me three tries to understand what was going on at first, but I forced myself to read fifty pages yesterday, and sometime that is the best way to get out of a slump. Today, I allowed myself to read as much as I wanted, and ended up finishing it. The main focus of this novel is Mrs. Forester, the wife of C
Dec 29, 2012 Petra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Willa Cather does it again. I really enjoyed this story. Willa Cather's descriptions of small town life and characters are superb. The way that Niel views Mrs. Forrester and the change from small town to capitalistic ways over the years is an interesting parallel.

Originally published in 1923, this short novel is set in the late 1800's. Summarizing from the back cover says it best:

"To the people of Sweet Water, a fading railroad town in the Western plains, Mrs. Forrester is the resident aristocrat, at once gracious and comfortably remote. To her aging husband she is a treasure whose value increases as his powers fail."

"Young Niel Herbert falls in love with her as a boy and becomes a confidant as a man, Mrs. Forrester is an enigma, by turns steadfas
Aug 26, 2014 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Thirty or forty years ago, in one of those grey towns along the Burlington railroad, which are so much greyer today than they were then, there was a house well known from Omaha to Denver for its hospitality and for a certain charm of atmosphere."

Mm. I knew from the very first sentence that I was going to enjoy this book. Cather’s writing is a delight throughout. Her prose is simple, direct, elegant, evocative.

I went into the book knowing next to nothing about it—something I rarely do—and found
Nov 09, 2008 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on the reviews that other people have written of this book, there seem to be a lot of different interpretations of what the story is fundamentally about. Here's mine: A Lost Lady is the story of a woman needing to be saved. At first she seems to be a romantic figure, but as time passes her pathetic situation becomes more apparent. She lacks something basic in her personality that would allow her to anchor herself, so instead she uses men as anchors. She has a deep passion for life, but no ...more
Oct 13, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Stephens
Jul 29, 2013 David Stephens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Lost Lady contains two prominent parallel narratives. The first is that of Niel Herbert, a young boy from Sweet Water, Nebraska whose vision of the world changes as he reaches his twenties. He initially has a romanticized view of Mrs. Forrester, a pretty young aristocrat in town, but eventually, his feelings toward her shift and become much more complex once he discovers her flaws.

Niel's narrative of disillusionment corresponds to the narrative of America. The country was still young throughou
Set in the fictional prairie town of Sweet Water, A Lost Lady is the story of Mrs. Marian Forrester and young Neil Herbert who adores her. The way she takes care of her husband, the stately manner she comports herself, is perfection in the eyes of Neil. But Marian is not perfect, and she begins her downfall in Neil's eyes when he discovers she is having an affair while her husband is away. Later in the story, after her husband has died, Marian has a relationship with the despised Ivy Peters, and ...more
Mar 16, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Okay so I actually enjoyed this one. It was all about people! Willa Cather is very much the observer and I think she has a great knack for aptly descibing people with very little description. I am looking forward to trying out the other stories that were recommended to me.

The story is very simple a boy, Niel, grows up watching and admiring the honorable and engaging Mr. and Mrs. Forrester. He is a man of certain fortitude and his wife beautiful and vivacious. Mostly Niel tells of his interactio
Marlli  Manco
Una narración fresca y ligera; una prosa sencilla, adecuada para un bloqueo lector, un tema muy del contexto, una historia de descripciones cortas, pero precisas que nos ayudan a entender un poco la época, las formas sociales y como estás se construyen y se desarrollan.
Jul 17, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Wow, I hate to give this two stars due to the fact that I absolutely loved My Ántonia. My life was a little hectic when I read this and I didn't read more than 10 pages at a time so maybe that contributed to my apathy about this book. I didn't like the characters, I didn't really "get" it. I almost felt like I was reading the middle section of a longer book because it felt like it was missing something essential, but ironically I didn't want more because it wasn't a captivating story in my opini ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Lost Lady / Willa Cather. This book was a treat, maybe a retreat. It has the familiarity of the Midwest and of my (precocious) childhood reading: quiet stories of everyday and, often, small town life with a stress on character and moral issues. The main characters are likely to be exceptional for their setting and the story will look back, frequently over a lifetime, at extraordinary memories about them. I think that Cather’s writing is much like Wallace Stegner’s fiction; he is in my literary ...more
Jun 13, 2015 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Marian Forrester, a young and vivacious woman who is married to a much older man, a bigwig with the railroad industry. Marian is exhuberant, lively, and flirtacious with others (men) but not very friendly with other women. Marian is the type of woman whom men love because she makes them feel like they are the most important person in the room. She is also the type of woman who does not really seem to have much of an identity apart from how men see her. The story is told main ...more
Apr 30, 2015 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Marian Forrester appears to own the world on her terms. She is the belle of the ball; parties seem to form by virtue of her presence. Men gather around her like bees to honey and she uses this to her great advantage. She married a wealthy railroad builder, Daniel Forrester who is twenty-five years her senior, becoming a small town aristocrat. But appearances are deceiving and fortunes change.

Through the observations of Neil Herbert, the young narrator who falls in love with Marian, we follow he
Donna LaValley
Apr 11, 2015 Donna LaValley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Willa Cather, being a major American writer (and one of the few females to be so recognized) is an author I hadn’t read for a long time. A Lost Lady fit the bill.

This book is “Literature” and not a book to be read solely for entertainment. It has so much more to offer the reader. It takes place in Sweet Water, a small place between Denver and Omaha, along the “Burlington Railroad” and mainly concerns the Forrester home, its occupants and visitors.

Mrs. Forrester married the Captain, a man much h
Feb 15, 2015 Fay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My son recommended Willa Cather years ago when he was an English literature major in college. I finally got started on her writing a few years back and try to read at least one a year. In part, I'm limiting myself that way as I don't want to finish with all her books ... it's so nice knowing there are still more out there for me. Her writing style is so relaxing. She truly is an artist with words. She actually paints beautiful pictures of the Midwest, which is the setting for many of her stories ...more
Jim Leckband
I was a little lost with "A Lost Lady", mainly because the lost lady of the title never seemed to get in focus to me - which hasn't happened before with Cather heroines (My Antonia, O Pioneers!). Then again, I am comparing this minor novella with two masterpieces of twentieth century fiction.

Mrs. Forrester is idealized by the "narrator" ('s third person, but it's all from Niel's point of view). Niel grows up with the image of Mrs. Forrester as pure virtue and goodness and her home as a o
Feb 15, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A simple read, interesting, but lots of food for thought. The character of Ivy is introduced as an older boy who blinds a woodpecker and releases it, just for sport. Later is is portrayed as an unscrupulous attorney. In today's society, he would have been sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Niel, a younger boy, tries to climb a tree to kill the injured woodpecker, and falls. Post injury, he is given first aid by Mrs. Forrester, and so begins his relationship with her. The story is about his journ ...more
Aug 03, 2014 Ayla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 25, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really interesting story. I picked it up simply based upon the title (and of course the author) and I was not disappointed.

My favorite passage:

"At night, when he was alone, when Mrs. Forrester had gone to bed
and the Captain was resting quietly, Niel found a kind of solemn
happiness in his vigils. It had been hard to give up that year;
most of his classmates were younger than he. It had cost him
something, but now that he had taken the step, he was glad. As he
put in the night hours, sitti
Jan 09, 2016 Pburmeister rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cather is one of my most favorite writers, so you may think it difficult for me to be objective about any one title. But A Lost Lady is a quiet gem and a good introduction to Cather's art. The heroine (Marian Forrester) of this book is never quite as she appears, being revealed and obscured in Cather's chronicle of a way of the American West. Told through the eyes of a principled young man who initially adores Mrs. Forrester, Cather's tale brings the reader in and out of seasons of a life, and e ...more
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Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virgina (Gore) in December 7, 1873. Her novels on frontier life brought her to national recognition. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours (1922), set during World War I. She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing ...more
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“Her husband had archaic ideas about jewels; a man bought them for his wife in acknowledgement of things he could not gracefully utter.” 6 likes
“He came to be very glad that he had known her, and that she had had a hand in breaking him in to life. He has known pretty women and clever ones since then,-- but never one like her, as she was in her best days. Her eyes, when they laughed for a moment into one`s own, seemed to promise a wild delight that he has not found in life. "I know where it is," they seemed to say, "I could show you!” 5 likes
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