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My Ántonia (Great Plains Trilogy #3)

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3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  94,254 Ratings  ·  5,392 Reviews
Willa Cather’s heartfelt novel is the unforgettable story of an immigrant woman’s life on the hardscrabble Nebraska plains. Through Jim Burden’s affectionate reminiscence of his childhood friend, the free-spirited Ántonia Shimerda, a larger, uniquely American portrait emerges, both of a community struggling with unforgiving terrain and of a woman who, amid great hardship, ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published September 21st 1995 by Mariner Books (first published 1918)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
Feb 25, 2012 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: littry-fiction
i read this book the same day i found out that sparkling ice had introduced two new flavors, pineapple coconut and lemonade.

what does this have to do with anything, you ask??

well, sparkling ice is sort of a religion with me, and this book was wonderful, so it was kind of a great day, is all. i don't have a lot of those.

why have i never read willa cather before? i'm not sure. i think i just always associated her with old ladies, and i figured i would read her on my deathbed or something. maybe it
...more
Samadrita
I would have called 'My Ántonia' an immigrant novel. But then I realized that dubious distinction is reserved only for the creations of writers of colour - Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Xiaolu Guo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sunjeev Sahota, Yiyun Li, Lee Chang Rae and so on and so forth. Especially now when the word 'immigrant', hurled at us ad nauseam from the airwaves and the domains of heated social media discussions, invokes images of gaunt, exhausted but solemnly hopeful faces of Syrians knock ...more
Sparrow
Mar 10, 2011 Sparrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hemingway fans, good people
Recommended to Sparrow by: nobody, and why?!
Maybe what I love about Willa Cather is all the kinds of love and belonging she writes. Her unhappy marriages and her comfortable ones; her volatile love and her unconsummated longing; and her lone, happy people, are all so different, but so how I see the world. I think the way she writes them is wise. Unreliable narrators are delightful to read because, in the sense that the author has shown me their unreliability, she has also shown me their uniqueness and humanity. I think Jim Burden, the nar ...more
Rowena
Jul 16, 2015 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Cheryl
Shelves: american-lit
"There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made."- Willa Cather, My Ántonia

For someone who grew up watching "Little House on the Prairie", this was an interesting and nostalgic look at my childhood fancies and romanticized images of frontier life. Making a new life, taming the land, and c
...more
Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Here lie glorious character sketches. Be sure to pay your respects.

I dragged my feet. I came late to the party. I regret it.

This is one of those books I've known about for ages, but was ignorant and flat out mistaken about its subject matter. A friend in college wrote a poem based off of it and my impression from that experience was that My Antonia was about a man describing a woman for the length of an entire novel. That would be a gross oversimplification of the book. It's so much more than t
...more
Dolors
Apr 14, 2014 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those wanting to get hold of an elusive past
Shelves: read-in-2014
“Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.” (p.259)

More than a Wild West story about the adventurous frontier life in the Nebraska plains, I thought My Ántonia was a novel about red seas of prairie grass and hard blue skies and black ploughs outlined against crimson suns and adults chasing the casted shadows of their pasts. Prior to the comforting embrace of the Nebraskan landscape there was only the most profound homesickness. Homesickness for
...more
Ted

… more than anything else I felt motion in the landscape; in the fresh, easy-blowing morning wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggy grass were a sort of loose hide, and underneath it herds of wild buffalo were galloping, galloping …




High Plains mixed-grass prairie during springtime. Near Harrison, Nebraska.
From Flickr, by https://www.flickr.com/photos/terrano...


Willa Cather

Willa Cather – born 1873 near Winchester Virginia. Her family moved to Nebraska in 1883 when she was nine, joining h
...more
Himanshu
An'-ton-ee-ah

That's how her name is pronounced, and not like An'-tow-niya which is how I always thought it was. I found this clarification, at the very start of the book, remarkable(for me) because it changed the way I read about her, till the very last page. At every mention of her name, my mind tried to pronounce it the Bohemian way, thus, never letting me forget the eccentricity and congeniality of this unforgettable character.

I have somehow spent almost a month reading this little book and
...more
Henry Avila
Mar 11, 2015 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Quayle Burden, loses both his parents, at the tender age of ten in Virginia, by the Blue Ridge Mountains, sent by relatives to his grandparents (Josiah and Emmaline Burden), by train, in the custody of a trusted employee, that worked for his late father , teenager Jake Marpole, reaching the farm, safely, in the still wild prairie state of Nebraska, newly settled, by Americans, the Indians have been scattered, and are no longer a threat , but the harsh frontier land remains untamed. Colorfu ...more
Margitte
Two old friends meet on a train. They grew up together in the same town, and lived in the same city, New York, although they hardly ever saw each other there. They decided to do an unusual thing. They would write down their memories of one particular girl. In a community filled with the good, the bad and the unbelievable, she unknowingly became the primary color in many people's pictures of their lives on the remote prairies of Nebraska. She simply refused to fade away in anyone's memories.

Midd
...more
Cheryl
Jan 16, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Nidhi Singh
She makes me revel in the beauty of four seasons: burning summers when the world lies green and billowy beneath a brilliant sky...the color and smell of strong weeds and heavy harvests; blustery winters with little snow, when the whole country is stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron. I read her and I forsake all others, for she tells me that no one can give the sensation of place through narrative, and also deliver such soul-stirring and wistful storytelling quite like she can.

She gives me quiet
...more
Nidhi Singh
Feb 17, 2015 Nidhi Singh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nidhi by: Dolors
To speak her name was to call up pictures of peoples and places, to set a quiet drama going in one’s brain.


‘My Antonia’ is a story of home and homesickness. Of the memories of a lost home that persist in the mindscape as the warm gusts of wind and the singing of the larks. The home of that golden sunshine and yellow leaves, red shaggy grass and blue skies. The images which make me think of home as the quietest, friendliest corner of a crowded and uncaring street, of that kind touch in midst of
...more
Glenn Sumi


My rating for My Ántonia? 5 stars shining brightly in the cloudless Nebraska sky, so vividly and lovingly evoked by Willa Cather in this elegiac novel about farmers and immigrant settlers making lives for themselves in the harsh, beautiful, bountiful prairies.

(Sorry about that graceless run-on incomplete sentence. Cather, with her clear, descriptive, unpretentious prose, would never commit such a sin.)

Some people and places are forever etched in our memories. Can you recall the landscapes of you
...more
The Book Maven
When I first arrived in Indiana in August 2004, I didn't know what I was expecting. My ancestors had first arrived in that Midwestern state in 1820, when it was still comparatively wild and unsettled. They were the true pioneers, but nonetheless, as I got out of my little Corolla to stretch my legs, I felt like I was a trailblazer, too.

We had stopped at a little gas station and truck stop just beyond the Indiana state line. I took a moment to call the relatives, let them know I was two hours aw
...more
Terence
Dec 29, 2008 Terence rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps an example of the danger of reading something before being intellectually or critically able to handle it. I wasn't "forced" to read this in high school but it was on a list of books an English teacher asked us to choose from and report on.

The experience was so awful that I've never cracked another Cather novel since.

Added 12/29/08: Apparently I was not the only young man "traumatized" by an early experience with Cather. In a completely serendipitous convergence I came across this paragr
...more
John
Nov 27, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: who care about American literature
Recommended to John by: read it to teach it
My latest encounter with a masterwork -- a novel I just completed in order to teach, and one that seduced me wonderfully and quite unexpectedly. Cather's Nebraska story goes over ground that's never much mattered to me, Midwestern farm country. Yet she made made the experience ache and thrill marvelously, via her poetic command of landscape and season, her exactitude when it comes to tools and foods and skin texture, and above all her penetrating sympathy for every figure, from the venal to the ...more
Fabian
Sep 16, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Nebraska prairie civilization is like the dog-town that lives below it. It is a web of families and favors. And that's the way of life. Antonia, the magnetic and emblematic figure in the middle of it all-- in this narrative of remembrance, of singular impressions-- is a strong rock, a hardworking beacon of goodness in a world that is simultaneously vast and asphyxiating, with its rattlesnakes, sicknesses, suicides and slight silver linings. Also a sight to behold: the kindness of strangers, ...more
Trish
Aug 09, 2016 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
If there were no girls like them in the world, there would be no poetry.

Frankly, I don't quite trust myself to put into words just how beautiful and hypnotizing Willa Cather's writing and story-telling ability is. This is one of those books you just have to read for yourself. The prose in this novel is outstanding and the characters and setting come to life as easily as breathing. Trust me, this is a hidden gem in a sea of classics.
Ben Winch
Oct 01, 2012 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, anglo, 5-stars
I'm not sure I can tell you what's so great about My Antonia, except that you can't read it without loving its subject, or at least I couldn't. And that it's transparent - miraculously so - as without flash or ego as anything I've read in a long time. But ironically, this rare attribute may help conceal Cather's artistry. In her earlier O Pioneers!, from the first line her virtuosity was evident, but perhaps if I hadn't been so impressed by it there I wouldn't so instinctively have grasped it he ...more
Matt
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-novels
Like many kids, the first “real” books I loved were Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. Their great and continuing popularity makes perfect sense. Kids crave security and a sense of protection; Little House on the Prairie hammered on that theme repeatedly, while only giving the reader a frisson of the actual dangers and hardships of frontier life. There was never any explicit threat in any of the books, with the exception of the near fatal cold in The Long Winter (the one ...more
Sue
"The trouble with you, Jim, is that you're romantic."
(p 138)
And for me this may have been the crux of my problem with this novel in spite of Cather's usual wonderful writing. Having read the books of The Great Plains Trilogy in the order they were written, My Antonia has to compete for attention in my mind with O Pioneers! and The Song of the Lark, neither of which has a narrator who would be termed a romantic in their view of life.

Jim's memoir of life on the prairie begins when he is a child
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"The only thing very noticeable about Nebraska was that it was still, all day long, Nebraska."

I have my own charming story about the endless rolling hills of Nebraska. When my husband and I first moved across the country from Oregon to Indiana, we spent a long day driving across Nebraska after spending a night there. As staunch Oregonians we were dying for some real coffee but whenever we asked, from Utah to Wyoming, people would shrug and say "we have coffee" and point to the gas station offeri
...more
Rod
This is my second Cather. I really enjoyed O Pioneers!, but felt there were some issues that prevented it from achieving absolute greatness, instead leaving it just mostly great—mainly, the omniscient narrator who fills us in on the characters' thoughts and feelings at any given time. I prefer to be shown rather than told, so this is a pet peeve of mine, and it was a minor irritation throughout.

That out of the way, My Ántonia truly shows how much Willa Cather grew as a novelist within just a few
...more
Teresa
Jun 26, 2014 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cather's beloved work is an nostalgic paean to her past, the prose even more assured than in her previous two novels. But whether it's because this one lacks the straightforwardness of O Pioneers! or the character arc in The Song of the Lark, its episodic structure failed to pull me in.

The most important element for me is the historical one that Cather has left us, the focus on the hard-working immigrant women who made a life for their families on the prairie despite extreme hardships, including
...more
Loren
Feb 18, 2008 Loren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joey
“Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.”
― Willa Cather, My Ántonia-

My first perception about Willa Cather as a writer herself upon reading her Death Comes For the Archbishop was that she could have been as “ impartial a writer “ as Graham Greene ; I admire writers who have never been abandoned to their deep-seated beliefs beyond logic. Although her former book did not placate my taste , it proved me that she was an exceptional writer who wa
...more
Carol
Jul 07, 2014 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
***3.5 Stars*** Vignettes of the Nebraska prairie, illustrated with lyrical prose. It is written as a memoir of the narrator, Jim Burden as he reflects on his early childhood when he was an orphan living with his grandparents on a farm near Black Hawk Nebraska (around the 1880s). Above all, he reminisces about a Bohemian immigrant girl named Antonia Shimerda.

Her novel has been dissected and analyzed by far more talented reviewers and critics than I’ll ever be so there is no need for me to be rep
...more
Werner
Apr 06, 2012 Werner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of serious, clean mainstream fiction; fans of historical fiction
Shelves: classics
Since about 1980, I've tended to read much more speculative and "genre" than descriptive, mainstream fiction; but that's partly a result of quirks of circumstance, and in my younger days that proportion was very much the reverse. This novel is one I read during my high school days (but on my own, not for a class) and remains an enduring favorite; it's a monument of the Realist tradition that exemplifies what "mainstream" or "general" (what I like to call "everyday" fiction, in no snide sense) ca ...more
Melodi
Nov 15, 2008 Melodi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting this book to be a hard classic to read. But I quite enjoyed it. I think it offers one a lot to consider and discuss....immigration, schooling, farm life, change of life, friendships, the list goes on. I enjoyed the painting that I felt Willa Cather painted as I was reading. It was peaceful to read and almost made me wish I had lived back in the day when life was somewhat simpler.
Laysee
Mar 30, 2016 Laysee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
“My Antonia” is one of the loveliest books I have read in a long time. It was a rare treat to dwell a few days in a world that allowed one to bask in the beauty of positive human relationships (most of it anyway) and the pride and joy of living that were unsullied by poverty or hardship.

Willa Cather wove a beautiful story about the lifelong friendship between Jim Burden and his friend, Antonia Shimerda, an immigrant girl from Bohemia (the modern day Czech Republic). The story was told from the
...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
More about Willa Cather...

Other Books in the Series

Great Plains Trilogy (3 books)
  • O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1)
  • The Song of the Lark

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“Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.” 856 likes
“I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” 226 likes
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