My Antonia, by Willa Cather

A man reminisces about his past with a strong Bohemian woman. Other reviewers of this book compare Antonia to an Earth goddess or rave about her personal “independence,” but I found the book as a whole to be depressingly sexist (yes, it’s written by a woman). In the twenty years the two characters go without seeing each other, Antonia shifts from being a willful young woman to being trapped by marriage to a man she has to make fit the husband role and a whopping ten children. The narrator, now a wealthy lawyer, is so far disconnected from his past that he can romanticize it and make Antonia something that she is not.

The book is beautifully written, and Cather’s imagery of Nebraska farm life is breathtaking. However the realities of life typically keep me from enjoying “romance” literature, and this book isn’t an exception.

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