Monday, November 7, 2011

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
128 pages

O Pioneers! is a spellbinding novel about a young woman named Alexandra who builds up a Midwestern farm from terrible conditions after her immigrant father passes away. She stays single for most of her life to make her land prosperous as she takes care of her young brother Emil and is in charge of her other brothers Lou and Oscar as well. She is an unofficial early twentieth century mogul.

Alexandra is an acute, persistent business woman who developed and managed her father's dream land in a manner that would have made him so proud he would've died with a smile on his face had he lived to see the results of her labor. But that's not all there is to the story. There is her childhood friend Carl, her crazy tenant Ivar, and her attractive neighbor Marie, who is married, but has an emotional attachment to Emil. The novel features poignant, vivid imagery.

The climax is in some ways predictable, but unexpected. It unfolds at a rapid and suspenseful pace that leaves a feeling of shock. Through Alexandra's point of view the novel explores common themes such as love, feminism, and isolation in a subtle and engaging manner.

An interesting fact about this book is that it is written by an American woman and takes place during a key time period in U.S. history that is often overlooked. O Pioneers! should be in American school canons because it is a deeply moving, beautifully-written treasure.

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