Several months ago my book club decided to branch out and read a classic. We picked My Antonia, by Willa Cather, published in 1918. It’s a story of a woman’s simple and often time’s very hard existence living in the harsh Nebraska prairie lands where growing things are a challenge and enduring the winters are a true testament to one’s character. Antonia was the daughter of Bohemian immigrants who not only faced being an outsider, but difficulties with her own old world family. You will grown to love Antonia’s perseverance as she grows to be a strong woman and admire her can-do attitude during an age when many, even men, could not tackle this barren way of life. She is a true example of how happiness can be found in very trying times and as a reader you are drawn to see her grow and take joy in simple things.
Will Cather was born in 1873 in Virginia, but her family moved to Nebraska when she was nine to farm the land. A couple years later she got a job delivering mail on horseback to the rural settlers in her area. Doing this she become acquainted with many immigrants who also came to farm. She acquired a firsthand knowledge of the rough way of life as she viewed her neighbors, but also her own family who gave up on farming after a short try and moved into the nearest town. She eventually moved to New York City to continue with her writing. My Antonia is probably her best known work, but another Great Plains story is O, Pioneers written in 1913. Although not as well known, One of Ours, written in 1922 won the Pulitzer Prize. I plan to read more of her works. Give classics a try and you might be pleasantly surprised.