Nature Literature discussion

Death Comes for the Archbishop
This topic is about Death Comes for the Archbishop
Book of the Month > Death Comes for the Archbishop Discussion

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Becky Norman | 786 comments Mod
Hi everyone,

Apparently the poll ended a day earlier than I expected and one of our "voters" wasn't able to put in her request. She emailed me her vote for Death Comes for the Archbishop which has now nudged it ahead in the running.

Please post your comments about our August Book of the Month here. Thanks!


Andree Sanborn (meeyauw) | 126 comments I'm glad you finally get to discuss your book here. It's been a long, long time since I read Cather and I am looking forward to it.

Becky Norman | 786 comments Mod
Me, too, Andre. I used to read My Antonia every spring as a matter of course, but it's been at least 15 years since I've read DCFTA and I'm looking forward to reading it with my "new" perspective.

message 4: by Becky (last edited Aug 03, 2014 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Becky Norman | 786 comments Mod
I wasn't more than 2 pages in when I was reminded why I love Willa so much. :)

"The light was full of action and had a peculiar quality of climax - of splendid finish. It was both intense and soft, with a ruddiness as of much-multiplied candlelight, an aura of red in its flames. It bored into the ilex trees, illuminating their mahogany trunks and blurring their dark foliage; it warmed the bright green of the orange trees and the rose of the oleander blooms to gold; sent congested spiral patterns quivering over the damask and plate and crystal."

It's like poetry in novel form.

message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul (waldenpond) I found I didn't care for this particular novel of Cather's. I've read 3 of her books before and enjoyed them very much, and a few years back I was driving across the plains states and made a significant detour to visit the Willa Cather Museum in Red Cloud, Nebraska, which I found most interesting.
However, Death Comes For The Archbishop (at least the early sections I read before giving up)came across to me as too focused on a formal religion and the people who do it's work, a subject I have seldom had much interest in. And not being Catholic myself, some of the terminology was confusing. I don't really even know exactly what an Archbishop is or does and how that official title is different from the many others there are. I had to look up "Apostolic" and some other words too! Ha-Ha!
Oh well, that's just my own take on it. I hope the rest of you enjoy the story. I'm sure I'll try some of Cather's other work in the future.

Andree Sanborn (meeyauw) | 126 comments That's why I love Kindle. Just click and hold and a definition pops up. Not a Catholic myself, so I'm sure I will be doing the same thing.

message 7: by Paul (new)

Paul (waldenpond) Andree wrote: "That's why I love Kindle. Just click and hold and a definition pops up. Not a Catholic myself, so I'm sure I will be doing the same thing."
I've never tried a Kindle, but that certainly sounds like a nice feature. Didn't know they could do that. But with the cost and not wanting to have to learn yet another technical device, I've avoided Kindles thus far and stuck with my nearby public library. And Webster is always standing next to my computer!

Andree Sanborn (meeyauw) | 126 comments Kindle can be done on absolutely any device. I have it on ipad and each of my desktops and laptop. And I have a Kindle kindle. They all do the same thing. :-) If you can use the Internet, you can use a Kindle!

message 9: by Becky (last edited Aug 03, 2014 03:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Becky Norman | 786 comments Mod
More language I love:
"It was like a country of dry ashes; no juniper, no rabbit brush, nothing but thickets of withered, dead-looking cactus, and patches of wild pumpkin - the only vegetation that had any vitality. It is a vine, remarkable for its tendency, not to spread and ramble, but to mass and mount. Its long, sharp, arrow-shaped leaves, frosted over with prickly silver, are thrust upward and crowded together; the whole rigid, up-thrust matted clump looks less like a plant than like a great colony of grey-green lizards, moving and suddenly arrested by fear."

message 10: by Becky (last edited Aug 17, 2014 07:26AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Becky Norman | 786 comments Mod
I've finished DCFTA - my review is here:


Overall, I love the language but agree with Paul that the plot and character development fall short of her other novels. I'm rather surprised to see some commentary on my edition of the book calling it her best novel ever. It wouldn't be the first book I'd choose to introduce someone to Cather.

message 11: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul (halfmanhalfbook) | 62 comments Have finally got around to starting this. Bit late I know. It is nicely written, but I am finding it a bit flat with regards to the plot and the two main characters.

message 12: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam Kennedy | 79 comments The language is beautiful and I suppose the wonderful descriptions of time and place are why we chose this book. The characters and plot were less interesting than other Cather books I have read but were secondary to the tone and setting. I probably read it in High School (Catholic school) 50 years ago and this was an enjoyable reread.

Andree Sanborn (meeyauw) | 126 comments I started reading it yesterday (Aug 31) and I totally, completely love it. Quiet friendship, beautiful descriptions, slow pace. I even got the Cliff Notes (which, thankfully have not told me much new about it, which means I am a better reader than I thought!). I think you should continue to recommend this to all your friends.

message 14: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam Kennedy | 79 comments Do,we know the Sept. book? If it is the bee book I will have Bob order it from Green Mt. Books tomorrow. I am heading for a nana babysitting gig i Boston early in the AM.

Andree Sanborn (meeyauw) | 126 comments yes, it is. Kindle it! (They should hire me as a Kindle evangelist.)

message 16: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam Kennedy | 79 comments I am trying to avoid Amazon - although Tanya told me Goodreads is an Amazon product. Such bad employee practices and I do love bookstores!

Andree Sanborn (meeyauw) | 126 comments I am not allowed in bookstores. However, he doesn't seem to have figured out all my sneaky on-line practices.
I am ashamed.
I didn't know goodreads was amazon. I should've figured it out, tho. My life is better because of amazon. Especially bulk groceries and toiletries that just are not regularly stocked in the pharmacy.

message 18: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam Kennedy | 79 comments I know what you mean. I am running low on laundry detergent and TP and haven't figured that out yet!

Andree Sanborn (meeyauw) | 126 comments I am back and have finished Death of the Archbishop. It is now one of my most favorite books. I cried at the end. It is powerful, descriptive. I read essays about Cather, looked up Catholic words and got translations of French phrases (Kindle does not translate Latin!!). I also read a history of the real Santa Fé Cathedral (now a basilica). I have not yet researched Kit Carson's role in the Navajo . . . what would you call it? Diaspora?
This is an important book about the history of the Southwest. The Catholic Church did have an important role in it. I wish I knew those two priests. They were wonderful men. I had a problem with the Bishop's picking and choosing of which woman to save and which to leave behind. And Magdalena, whom he saves, actually attached herself to them. But that is a sin of the age then, not necessarily of the men.
I am going to re-read My Antonia and all the rest of Cather that I can find. I have a bunch of trees and plants that I highlighted that I want to study, also.
Thank you for this book. It has enriched my life.

Becky Norman | 786 comments Mod
I'm so pleased you enjoyed it that much, Andree! Cather is one of America's greatest treasures and yet she is rarely mentioned in discussions of important historical figures. I'm so grateful the universities I attended (University of Wisconsin system) had a variety of her novels and short stories in their curriculum.

message 21: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul (halfmanhalfbook) | 62 comments Finished it this morning. Review here. Thought that the prose was lovely, but felt the plot and characters let it don for me.

back to top