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Plains Song

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  133 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Wright Morris (1910-1998) wrote thirty-three books, including The Home Place, also available in a Bison Books edition, and Field of Vision, which won the National Book Award. Charles Baxter is a professor of English at the University of Michigan and the author of numerous works, including The Feast of Love.
Paperback, 229 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Bison Books (first published 1980)
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Sophie's Choice by William StyronThe Corrections by Jonathan FranzenThe Shipping News by Annie ProulxInvisible Man by Ralph EllisonThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
National Book Award Winners
50th out of 103 books — 136 voters
Unwrapped by Chantilly WhitePearls of Pleasure by Chantilly WhitePearls of Wisdom by Chantilly WhitePearls of Passion by Chantilly WhiteMrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill
By Authors with January Birthdays
55th out of 103 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

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Oct 15, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it
Loved the depiction of the people living on the plains from about 1910 to 1980. The character of Cora holds the book together. The prose is spare but stunning. I wanted to give this small book 5 stars but the ending put me off. A peculiar character is introduced and I just didn't get it. Worth reading but a tad disappointing.
Dec 13, 2015 Ben rated it liked it
National Book Award for Fiction 1981 - Plains Song is the story of the Atkinson family and the woman in that. It centers around Cora who is in her late teens when the book starts and marries Emerson Atkinson, moving in with him and his brother Orion in Nebraska. The book then focuses on Cora's children and grandchildren and their life through the 20th Century. This is a book almost entirely of woman. Most of the children born to the family are girls and their husbands are merely secondary charac ...more
“When Cora came to the screen, fanning the dead air with her apron, and gazed across the green lawn with its pattern of posts and wickets, the striped balls gleaming like eggs painted for Easter, the sad keening of the mourning doves filled her with a sorrowful pleasure, more satisfying to her nature than a blithe, careless happiness. In the chill of the morning, or the cool of the evening, the air heavy with the drone of insects, Cora’s contentment might be so great it aroused her guilt. What h ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it
Great character sketches--loved his descriptions of the women's temperaments and living conditions but the plot was basically non-existent. I kept putting it down and it took me a long time to finish it since nothing was driving the story.
Dec 01, 2014 Mike rated it it was ok
Much too slow for my taste.

Cora's nobility has to do with her ability to bear up without complaint.
Susan Bybee
Jun 05, 2014 Susan Bybee rated it really liked it
Beautifully laconic narrative of three generations of Nebraska women. This is the most authentically midwestern novel I've ever read.
Jul 04, 2015 Keiko rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr-purchased
I read this for the KCRW Bookworm FaceBook Club discussion.

A slow paced book, not for everyone but I enjoyed it for it's "plainness".
For me, instead of reading in between the lines, it del like I was given the time to reflect on my own life and the women in my own family.

If you are looking for a quick read with romance, mystery and plot twists, this is not for you. However, if you are looking to savor the grit, dry winds, calloused hands and souls of those who lived in the plains (and escaped
Mar 02, 2016 Cynthia rated it liked it
Well written but somehow very unsatisfying.
Apr 24, 2015 Ilianna rated it it was ok
Way too slow.
Jun 06, 2008 Jim rated it liked it
A National Book of the Year, Morris' novel describes all the women in three generations of one family and so deftly written that one feels they know them all. When some minor incident in one of their lives makes them think of similar things that happened earlier to them, it wasn't uncommon for me to find myself staring out the window while remembering incidents in my past, too. As a grandfather looking back, however, most of the time I was glad that part of my life was over.
Mary Lou
Aug 10, 2011 Mary Lou rated it liked it
There are better books on this theme (women who settled the frontier, in this case the Great Plains). This is a multigenerational story of the women in one family in Nebraska.

The character of Sharon drove me crazy. She is the one woman in the family who chooses not to marry and instead, to follow a career and move to the big city (Chicago), but her motivations are not well explained.
Jun 24, 2009 Sue rated it did not like it
I didn't enjoy this dull book with underdeveloped characters and wonder why I bothered to finish it. There was nothing written in a positive sense, nothing to make you feel good or enjoy what you're reading. If everyone perceived life in this negative manner wouldn't we all be sad indeed.
Sheila Rocha
Dec 28, 2007 Sheila Rocha rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: readers of Great Plains literature
A somber and darker look at the limited reality of the plains/prairie woman. The starch is thick as life is filled with negation for passion and future.
It is filled with brutal honesty, but requires more character dimension. There must be more to some of the women in his novel.
The story of three generations of women as they farm and raise their children on the plains of Nebraska. Morris examines the relationships of the family as they change through the years.
Feb 05, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, subtle, heartbreaking ... a writer who could tell a lifetime by painting one downward glance ...
Jul 04, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I did my Master's Thesis on this author's salvaging of the past.
Apr 11, 2009 Cindy rated it it was ok
bleak, but compelling
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Wright Marion Morris was an American novelist, photographer, and essayist. He is known for his portrayals of the people and artifacts of the Great Plains in words and pictures, as well as for experimenting with narrative forms.
Morris won the National Book Award for The Field of Vision in 1956. His final novel, Plains Song won the American Book Award in 1981.
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