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Shadows on the Rock

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,614 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Set in seventeenth-century Canada, an evocation of North American origins highlights the men and women who struggled to adapt to the new world even as they clung to the one they left behind.
Paperback, 229 pages
Published September 26th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1931)
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3.99  · 
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 ·  1,614 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-completed
With her signature descriptive powers and the ability to generate ambience and evoke vibrant visuals, Willa Cather delivers a story of early Québec (as named and spelled by the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain), from the Algonquin word kébec which meant “where the river narrows”. Although the province is now three times the size of France or the State of Texas, back then it was a small settlement perched along a set of cliffs and bluffs above the Saint Lawrence River in Canada.

This story is
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-novels
Three and a half stars
This is the first work I have read by Willa Cather and it is a historical novel set in Quebec in 1687-8. It is told from the point of view of 12 year old Cecile Auclair and her father Euclid, an apothecary. It covers one year in the life of the city with an epilogue set 15 years later to tie up loose ends. Cecile’s mother has died two years previously and she now looks assists her father and keeps house. Euclid serves the aging Count and has followed him to Canada. The Cath
Willa Cather is known for her classic novels set in the 18th century American prairie, but in this one she moves to 17th century, French Colonial Quebec. But what remains the same is Cather's beautiful writing and her exceptional ability to create memorable characters, and craft stories that is historical fiction at it's finest. Reading this, one gets the sense of life the French settlers experienced in this lonely Canadian outpost, and the influence of the French culture that still lives in Que ...more
Being the third of the books I've read by Cather, I've come to expect a certain ecstatic experience from her work, and Shadows is no exception. In fact, compared to the other two, the utter simplicity and straightforwardness of the characters and emotions depicted has made this by far the most enjoyable of what I've read (the other two being My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop). There is a rhythm to her composition, in which characters are introduced, back story is discovered, an inten ...more
Gretchen Rubin
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, peaceful evocation of a distant time and place. Reminded me of Sarah Orne Jewett's THE COUNTRY OF POINTED FIRS. If you're a Willa Cather fan, like me, don't overlook this novel.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I guess it’s no secret by now that I adore Willa Cather. Shadows on the Rock (1931) is one of her late novels, and I loved every minute of it. It’s an account of people living in colonial Quebec. There’s not much of a plot; this is all about character and place. In it, Cather fully shows her power of description and her awesome talent in presenting the spirit of a land.

This genius is no surprise; Cather captured life on the Nebraska plain in My Àntonia, O Pioneers, and My Mortal Enemy. She expl
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
As always, Willa Cather satisfied! I had not read anything by her for a long time. I knew I had loved what I read by her before in college, but kind of forgot why -- and now I remember! Her writing style and descriptions are somehow soothing. I just enjoy her so much.

This one was set in about 1700 in Canada. It involved the French coming to "conquer" parts of Canada and North America. The main characters were the apothecary and his daughter who came to Canada with the Count who went to Canada to
Marie Saville
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Corre el año 1697 cuando conocemos a Auclide Auclair, un sabio y respetado boticario, y a su pequeña hija, Cécile. Ocho años han transcurrido desde el día en que ambos dejaron París y se instalaron en Quebec, aprovechando la protección de su patrón y gobernador de la colonia, el Conde de Frontenac. Durante todo este tiempo padre y hija han sido capaces de construir un pequeño hogar y de granjearse el cariño de sus conciudadanos. Pero el aislamiento, los contratiempos y los peligros de una tierra ...more
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Willa Cather is easily one of my favorite authors. Here she takes us to Quebec in about the year 1700. These brave souls left civilization behind - all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Ships would arrive only during the summer months. And that assumes they made it safely across the ocean.

She tells the tale of lives lived in the settlement. Typical Cather - not much happens. But she digs deep into the characters.

Really great book.
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book! Willa Cather never disappoints a reader. This was one of her lesser known novels but it is still excellent. Shadows on the Rock is a tale of Quebec City during the final days of the royal governor Louis Frontenac and colonial New France. It is not a long book but the characters are many and varied and thoughtfully drawn. Of course, Cather's brilliance, at least to me, remains in the way she creates a sense of time and place with her rich and poetic depictions of landscape, wea ...more
Devyn Duffy
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Devyn by: found it in the library's Classics shelf
Yet another amazing work from Willa Cather. After completing Death Comes for the Archbishop, Cather wrote this novel about the town of Quebec in the late 1600s, and similarly included actual historical figures as characters, and referred to actual historical events. With Cather's unmatched descriptive ability, it's easy for the reader to get a sense of what colonial life must have been like in a place that was cut off from the mother country between October and June of every year. And again it i ...more
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is such a lovely, modest book, like so much of Cather. I found it in the library and decided to give it a try -- it's a portrait of the town of Kebec, currently known as Quebec City to anglophones, in the late 17th century. Lots of it is based on the truth, but the characters are so fully drawn, and the descriptions of the St. Lawrence River and the Rock, aka Kebec, are so beautiful, it's a poetically inspired historical novel. I have never known much about the settlement of New France in t ...more
Katie  Hanna
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fellas, this here is my favorite novel of all time.

I mean that. It's beautiful. It's phenomenal. It's a masterpiece . . . and it's something everybody should read at least once in their lives. (In my humble opinion, at any rate.)

What makes it so good? EVERYTHING.

Okay, I'll try to get a little more specific. First-off, the characters are amazingly well-drawn. They truly are real, live, flesh-and-blood people . . . and they walk straight off the page and into your heart. It's not that they're f
Shawn Mooney
I studied Willa Cather in grad school. Grad school was one of the worst periods of my adult life. This is the first time I’ve attempted to read her since, and I find myself still unable to separate out those unhappy memories enough to appreciate her. That, and I’ve been listening to a rather badly narrated audiobook, and I’ve also been listening for what seems like HOURS to a dreary story about some old nun. I’m done.
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Cather writes, "When an adventurer carries his gods with him into a remote and savage country, the colony he founds will, from the beginning, have graces, traditions, richs of the mind and spirit. Its history will shine with bright incidents, slight, perhaps, but precious, as in life itself, where the great matters are often as worthless as astronomical distances, and the trifles dear as the heart’s blood.”

This is how she makes such a quiet novel, one with minimal plotting, so compelling, even r
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This quiet book captured me with the beauty of its writing, its description of an isolated pioneer life where people had to make the best of what they had, and some purely religious stories of a kind you rarely find in novels anymore.

In this novel of interconnected stories, Cather describes the promontory of "Kebec" in the late 1600s and early 1700s, primarily through the eyes of an apothecary who left France to follow the count who had lived next to his father's shop in Paris. Not long after he
Sep 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book was just charming. It doesn't really have a traditional "plot," as in a central conflict with setbacks, climax, denoument, etc. It's just a year in the life of a 12-year-old girl, her widower father, and their friends, making a life for themselves in Quebec in 1697.

In a way it's sort of a fairy tale. The good characters are pretty much thoroughly good, the evil characters are really not all that evil, and nothing very frightening ever happens. It's appeal lies in the likability of the
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of Old Quebec, under the Governorship of Count Frontenac. While I can't speak to its historical accuracy, it did give me a sense for what life was like in that time period for those living on the edge of the Canadian wilderness. It led me to a greater understanding of the French Canadian desire to preserve their heritage. It also made me want to visit Quebec and Montreal, especially during the Fall. It was just a pleasure to read Cather's writing while also learning som ...more
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Willa Cather is, hands down, one of the best authors there is. Her writing is poignant, beautiful, and simple, filled with terrific characters and lovely settings; yet it is quite real and sticks you right in amongst the story. This book is about the life of a France-born apothecary and his young daughter, as they face the colorful happenings of a "New France" or Canadian town. A must-read.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Willa Cather was a lifelong Protestant (a Baptist and later an Episcopalian) and yet she wrote two of the best Catholic novels in American literature, Death Comes for the Archbishop and Shadows on the Rock. The latter is less often read today but is as perfect a novel as the first.

Set in 1697, in the Quebec of elderly Count Frontenac and retired Archbishop Laval, Shadows on the Rock describes a year in the life of apothecary Euclide Auclaire and his daughter Cecile. The portraiture is careful –
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think I had tried to read this book years ago and couldn’t get into it. This time however, I took to it. It’s slow and descriptive and wonderful. Cather really knows how to paint a picture with words. I found myself reading and re-reading whole paragraphs because of the beautiful depictions of the Québécois landscape. A lovely little book.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
Indelible portrait of French settlers in Quebec in the 18th century. Vivid senic descriptions, strong sense of place, charming character portraits, love for nature and humanity. A treasure.
Aug 28, 2017 marked it as to-read
Recommendation on BookishPrincess BookTube Channel - 7/20/2017
Robin Friedman
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Novel Of Old Quebec

Willa Cather wrote "Shadows on the Rock"(1931) late in her novelistic career following her more famous book, "Death Comes for the Archbishop."(1927). As is the earlier book, "Shadows on the Rock" is influenced heavily by Cather's fascination with Catholicism (a religion she did not practice), her love of French civilization, and her interest in frontier places.

Cather's novel is set in the remote world of "New France", in French Quebec of 1697. The story tells of the early Fr
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shelf-3

Willa Cather is an American writer who was born in 1873 and wrote 12 novels, as well as other collections of short stories and essays. She obviously is an excellent writer. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for “One of Ours” in 1923.

There is an easy flow here, a rhythm that speaks of a good writer. Willa Cather’s descriptions pull the reader into the story with great skill. The culture of the people is expertly and intimately woven with the landscape of the terrain.

“Shadows on the Rock
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up to 5. I was a little dissatisfied with the ending...but overall very much enjoyed this beautiful work of historical fiction . Warning, if you need a page-turning plot driven novel, this probably is not the right book. This book has beautiful writing, thoughtful character development, and left me with so many greater things to think about.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Can I say this is like Bach for the soul..
Chantal Daigneault
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Easy read, without much of a plot. I enjoyed it but it lacked depth.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catholic-fiction
Its settled: I'm going to Quebec after reading this book.
Natalie Votipka
Willa Cather is my favorite non-Catholic Catholic novelist. Her characters are fantastic, as always, and this book is character- (not plot-) driven. It's an engaging portrait of the French "New World." It's not as clear and concise as some of her other novels I've read, but it seems like the way it's written makes it feel "Frenchified."

I enjoyed the French sprinkled in, since I know some, but I think I would be frustrated by some rather substantive portions of the text being in a foreign languag
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Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley (Gore), Virginia, in December 7, 1873.

She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing an article for the Nebraska State Journal, she became a regular contributor to this journal. Because of this, she changed her major and graduated with a bachelor's d
“Only solitary men know the full joys of friendship. Others have their family; but to a solitary and an exile his friends are everything.” 31 likes
“Schools are not meant to make boys happy, Cécile, but to teach them to do without happiness.” 7 likes
More quotes…