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One Of Ours

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  5,145 Ratings  ·  430 Reviews
Willa Cather’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of World War I.

The son of a prosperous farmer, Claude Wheeler’s future is laid out for him as clear and monotonous as the Nebraska sky—a few semesters at the local Christian college followed by marriage and a lifetime spent worrying about the price of wheat. Many young men would be happy to find themselves in Claude’s shoes, but
Paperback, 391 pages
Published by Vintage (first published 1922)
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John Freeman I was surprised too that she won for that and not her Great Plains trilogy. Almost as surprised as when I found out that Edna Ferber won for "So Big"…moreI was surprised too that she won for that and not her Great Plains trilogy. Almost as surprised as when I found out that Edna Ferber won for "So Big" when her other books, "Show Boat" or "Cimarron" were clearly my opinion.(less)
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"Ruin and new birth; the shudder of ugly things in the past, the trembling image of beautiful ones on the horizon; finding and losing; that was life, he saw." A mother's love for a distressed son. A son's love for his emotionally-abused and pious mother. A young man pondering life and what it has to offer. A war that has to be fought. A protagonist who feels the pull of duty to a war that summons American lives. If this is not a book about the inner turmoils of war and one's psychological batt ...more
Mar 19, 2009 Sparrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Derrick Jensen
Recommended to Sparrow by: 1932 Pulitzer
Leave it to Willa Cather to write the most peaceful book about war I have ever read. One of Ours is not my favorite story about World War I or my favorite Cather, but it is truly beautiful. Cather's description of the destruction caused by war and America's participation in global economy is fascinating, and I was surprised to find a perspective that I think of as common in post-Vietnam writing in a book published before the Great Depression.

One of the characteristics I love most about Cather as
Scott Axsom
Feb 01, 2015 Scott Axsom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Ours is another in a long line of beautiful works by Willa Cather, and the one she won a Pulitzer for. If you’re a Cather fan already, well, you’re used to her stories generally going not much of any place in particular. If you’re new to her work, prepare for a languorous, yet profound, journey through the lives of remarkably ordinary people. One of Ours hews to her style of magnificently in-depth characterizations and elegiac descriptions of the early twentieth century American Midwest.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1923. Claude Wheeler is a young man with, seemingly, everything. Well respected parents who own a good Nebraska farm that will someday belong to Claude, and he has a new wife. But Claude has bigger dreams that can't be fulfilled in this setting. His parent's are indifferent to his dreams, and his wife is only interested in her church and mission work. Then World War I comes along, and Claude sees this as his opportunity to do something meaningful with ...more
May 24, 2011 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Claude Wheeler, a college-age farmer's son in Nebraska, just before and during World War I. I try to put my finger on what is so appealing about Cather's prose, besides the sensitive and subtle presentation of her characters and her vivid descriptions of the physical world. I guess it's her non-judgmental choice of words--she presents some pretty repellent characters, but she never describes them in a way to prejudice the reader; she lets other characters be repelled by them. What s ...more
Oct 06, 2012 Ensiform rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, war
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this is the story of Claude Wheeler, an American farm boy who grows to manhood convinced that there is something more “splendid about life” than the quotidian existence he sees around him, that will be his future. Frustrated at his inability to attend anything but a small religious college, and entranced by glimpses of a more daring family who engage in intellectual debate and love the arts, he gets married but finds that his wife, too, lives only for Christian miss ...more
I loved the beginning of this book, then felt sort of bogged down in the middle, but was again very engaged at the end. I almost gave this book 3 stars because of the middle, but the parts of it that were beautiful were so beautiful that I think it deserves 4. One of my favorite passages was "Most of the boys who fell in this war were unknown, even to themselves. They were too young. They died and took their secret with them -- what they were and what they might have been", but there were many b ...more
Worthy of the Pulitzer. Wonderful writing that brings the reader to Nebraska and then France during WWI. A sad and touching coming of age story.
Christopher Sutch
Sep 01, 2012 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fine novel is deceptively easy to read, but I think was Cather's most complex and significant work up to the time of its publication (1922; won the Pulitzer Prize). Rather than stating explicitly where the novel is going or, when the narrative finally moves toward its climax, the links with the events that happened earlier), Cather's style becomes here much more high modernist (without the technical stylings of Faulkner or Hemingway, both concerned at times with similar subject matter): sur ...more
Jul 20, 2013 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who's the GREAT American writer ? Not Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wharton, Faulkner. Here she is : Willa Cather.
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
1923 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.[return][return]I ve lived in Nebraska and know well the rolling landscape, the hard-working but easy-going people who farm and ranch the land there. Willa Cather s prose, as far as I m concerned, reflects perfectly their characters. That is the first impression that a reader takes away from One of Ours. And its protagonist, Claude Wheeler, reminds me of young people I ve met there, who love their state and their families, but somehow don t quite fit ...more
Oct 16, 2015 Shawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Ours - Willa Cather was given the Pulitzer Prize for this book in 1923, although, in my humble opinion, it is not her best work. The story follows Claude Wheeler, a thoughtful yet inexplicably restless son of a Nebraska farmer, through his early adulthood and into the trenches of World War One. The book is unique among Cather’s works as it was considered by her contemporaries as a “war novel”. Claude is a second generation Nebraska and, as such, he comes of age twenty or twenty-five years ...more
Sep 02, 2016 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently, Willa Cather did not want this book to “be classed as a war story,” and after reading it, that makes a lot of sense to me.

Yes, Hemingway et al. did get their manties in a twist about how feeble the (surprisingly scanty) war parts were, but really, boys, that would seem to be missing the point. I mean, it’s right there in the title. No All Quiet on the Western Front for Cather; it’s One of Ours, and I read the “Ours” as we good old US of A-ers and the “One” as our hero, Claude Whee
Daniel Villines
Feb 10, 2011 Daniel Villines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of our Ours seems to be perceived as just another World War I novel but the truth is that the war is one of many settings in this novel that are used by Cather to tell a humanistic story. The book brings to life the beliefs of humans, the realities formed out of these beliefs, and their consequences. Specifically, she focuses on the people of small towns in rural America and one young adult who is in search of who he should become while living in a sea of strong-minded family and friends. Wh ...more
Pulitzer Prize winner or not, I almost quit during the first fifty pages. The opening is a dreadful bore. By modern standards, Cather commits almost every storytelling gaff. Even by 1922 standards, she should have compressed the first half of her story into half the space.

The story really begins when the Great War intrudes on the life of rural America. The protagonist breaks his provincial shell and enters the greater world. His life--and the story--begins as he sails past the Statue of Liberty
Mar 07, 2016 Bookslut rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
I don't like the way Willa Cather writes--it is such pared-down, understated prose that it doesn't sit easily on my brain. Nonetheless, this book really touched me. My critique is that the two parts of the novel do not relate well to each other. The first part is an in-depth character study, almost painfully slow, and the second is a fast, plot-heavy war story. The character study she's set up so carefully is almost lost, rather than developed, in the war portion. It's kind of a shame, since the ...more
Devyn Duffy
Aug 06, 2013 Devyn Duffy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Willa Cather deserves a nomination as the greatest American author.

For some reason, One of Ours doesn't seem to move many people, but I found it to be a wonderfully written story of a young man who can't seem to figure out how to live. The characters seem real, as they do in all of Cather's work, and Cather is one of the few authors I know of who can describe scenes in vivid detail without being boring.

I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it. You probably already know, howe
Carol Douglas
Mar 24, 2016 Carol Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many people who read Willa Cather's books like My Antonia and Death Comes to the Archbishop don't know that she wrote a book about World War I, One of Ours, or that that book won the Pulitzer Prize. I finally read the book and like it as well as anything else she wrote.
One of Ours is the story of a Nebraska farm boy who is by far the brightest in his family but whose attempts to expand intellectually are shot down again and again.
Cather describes Nebraska, and indeed every place, wonderfully
I'm afraid my experience with this book suffered a bit from what I've dubbed the Book Prize Oopsy Syndrome, wherein, according to this article, "winning a prestigious prize in the literary world seems to go hand-in-hand with a particularly sharp reduction in ratings of perceived quality". This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 and for me that's one of the best prizes a book can win. So I expected genius, and what I got was a good book. Just not genius.

But I am very interested to read more Will
I've read My Antonia, O Pioneers, and Neighbor Rosicky. I mistakenly thought that what I loved so much about Cather are her prairie/pioneer/struggling to make a living off the earth/work ethic themes. I've long avoided reading One of Ours, because I feared the WWI setting would lull me to sleep. The truth is, Willa Cather could write banking manuals and make me fall in love with the characters. She's just a truly great writer. I so enjoyed this story. I love stories, and Willa Cather is one of f ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing to discover a Cather work written in 1922 and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 - over 90 years ago - and have it thoroughly embrace you as though it were recently written. I was totally drawn in. Felt it was as much the story of a young man's growing up and early adult years in Nebraska, as it was a tale of the Great War, World War I. Loved it. Recommend.
Okay, I will not beat around the bush: I did not like this novel. This despite the fact that I find Willa Cather an interesting literary figure and was looking forward to reading it.

I have lots of complaints. Here are the first two that come to mind:

First, it drags. I don't just mean that the scenes and descriptions are elaborate; I mean that whole chunks of the novel drone on and on without any apparent reason. The title makes it pretty clear that the main character, Claude Wheeler, is going to
Karen Hagerman
Sep 28, 2013 Karen Hagerman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't possibly give Willa Cather anything less than 5 stars, although this wasn't my absolute favorite of hers. The first half, which takes place on the prairies and farms of Nebraska, is achingly beautiful and the main character, Claude Wheeler, will stay with me for a long time. I so sympathized with his general frustration - his desire to make more of himself, his disappointment in his frigid but efficient wife, his distaste for his father and his deep but unstated love for his mother. I co ...more
Mar 08, 2012 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Willa Cather, and each new book or story I read of hers just solidifies that opinion. I understood Claude so completely and, though I was frustrated with him at times, I also felt like he spoke my own thoughts and reflected the side of me that is too often discontented. It's not the "me" I show to the public, but too frequently it's the "me" inside.

And when, very late in the novel, I read this passage, I was so proud of him. I truly felt as though I'd watched him mature and become a man.

Feb 15, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, war
Willa Cather's One of Ours is the story of Claude Wheeler's part in World War One. I read this with it in mind as being a book about war, but now that I've finished it I don't think that the war was the main point. I think that this is a story of a young person trying to find themselves in an ever changing world. Claude is often directionless and lost, struggling to find his place in the world, with his hopes and desires failing to be realised again and again. The way I've read it, this places O ...more
Apr 07, 2015 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a book you read and keep thinking about it. Willa Cather's descriptions pull you into prairie life and war. This book is a sad reminder that sometimes war is a headline in a newspaper or a game that kids play. Not many people think about the destruction of people and countries. Those that fight the war and come home, sometimes do not do so well. I always think of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Mar 14, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘One of Ours’ is Willa Cather’s 1923 Pulitzer prize winning novel that I read for the ongoing Librarything Virago group’s Great War theme read.
Cather is particularly known for writing about Nebraskan frontier life, and this novel opens in the Nebraskan farming community at around the time that the First World War was starting in Europe. Claude Wheeler is the son of a successful farmer, his future on the farm, seems assured. Many of Claude’s friends and neighbours are European immigrants – sever
Mar 20, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer-fiction
I have a much higher opinion of Willa Cather after reading One of Ours, given the only book of hers I had previously read was O Pioneers. While not a native of the Midwest, Cather effortlessly writes about the farming families of the Nebraska Prairie, many of whom were European immigrants settling in the heartland barely within a generation of arriving on America’s shores. The main character in One of Ours, Claude Wheeler, is also from a family who settled a farmstead just a generation ago, thou ...more
Jun 29, 2016 Jimmy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzers
Willa Cather's Pulitzer winning novel about a young farmer boy from the heartland of the U.S. and his going off to fight in The Great War is, as usual for Cather, beautifully written. Cather has a lovely easy and measured style that is on full display in this story. The positive of this style is its lyricism. Reading Cather is like watching a slow motion, panoramic film shot of a beautiful sunset on lush corn fields in the Great Plains that is remarkable and breathtaking in its aesthetic, but do ...more
Heather Mize
Nov 09, 2011 Heather Mize rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Willa Cather remains one of the best female American authors. For her lesser known "One of Ours" she won a pulizter in 1923. She wrote this book after visiting the grave of a cousin who died in WWI. Cather's book starts on the Nebraska prarie, the backdrop of her own childhood.
Cather's writing in One of Ours is accessible, something she is known for, even if it's a smidge less accessible than O!Pioneers, or My Antonia. She continues to write using imagery, and a love of the natural world contin
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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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“Life was so short that it meant nothing at all unless it were continually reinforced by something that endured; unless the shadows of individual existence came and went against a background that held together.” 9 likes
“Women ought to be religious; faith was the natural fragrance of their minds. The more incredible the things they believed, the more lovely was the act of belief. To him the story of "Paradise Lost" was as mythical as the "Odyssey"; yet when his mother read it aloud to him, it was not only beautiful but true. A woman who didn't have holy thoughts about mysterious things far away would be prosaic and commonplace, like a man.” 8 likes
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