So as you all know I started a book club last year. I have fallen behind with my posts, but I was catching up. I am only one behind now. 🙂
Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.
There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. The next one was my turn and I picked one of my favorites:
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
This won’t be a long post as I talked about it two years ago during my 30-day book challenge (which I never finished. Oops!)
I love this book so much. I’m not sure what else I could add. The other day I did a post on how sad it is that Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is so ignored when it is such a good book-and I feel the same way about this one. This is such an amazing novel! But is so ignored by people, why?
Why? Why do they treat you this way?
So the book is just under 200 pages and divided into five parts. The first part talks of the Swedish immigrants, the Bergsons, who moved to Nebraska for a better life. They find it not as they hope and after many struggles finally seem to be eking out a living. But then! The patriarch of the family, John, is dying and decides to leave the control of everything to his daughter Alexandra.
Yes, he doesn’t care about anything but what is good for the family. And he knows the only one who will keep things going right is Alexandra and she should be in charge, even though she is female.
“It was Alexandra who read the papers and followed the markets, and who learned by the mistakes of their neighbors. It was Alexandra who could always tell about what it cost to fatten each steer, and who could guess the weight of a hog before it went on the scales closer than John Bergson himself. Lou and Oscar were industrious, but he could never teach them to use their heads about their work.” pg. 15
While everything prospers for them, others aren’t doing well and selling the land to move on to “greener pastures.” One of which is the man Alexandra is in love with. He knows he isn’t a farmer and doesn’t want to use her, but wants to be her equal.
“I’ll write as long as I live…And I’ll be working for you as much as for myself, Alexandra. I want to do something you’ll like and be proud of. I’m a fool here, but I know I can do something!” pg. 34
It is so sad as you want them to be together!
It doesn’t matter to Alexandra, she doesn’t care! She loves him and wants to spend her life with him whether he has everything or nothing.
I talk about this all the time that husband calls it “the book you love”. He’ll say “I know, its like the book you love” or “you are like that girl in the book you love”, or “it’s like that book you love” etc.
“[To Carl’s retreating form] Since you have been here, ten years now, I have never really been lonely.” pg 35
The second section of the novel it has been sixteen years since the death of John Bergson, now being 1899. In the years that have passed much has changed. The Bergsons have thrived under Alexandra’s leadership and are very wealthy. In fact Alexandra was able to send her youngest brother, Emil off to college.
Poor Alexandra is alone still pining for her love. He comes back for a visit but still has nothing so he feels he can’t marry her.
I think Carl and Alexandra are just the cutest couple. Carl is so sweet to her and pretty much understands her (except for the having to prove himself thing because she does not care) and doesn’t find any measure of her odd or not right.
“I wonder whether I should ever be able to tell you all that I was thinking up there. It’s a strange thing, Alexandra; I find it easy to be frank with you about everything under the sun-except yourself!’
‘You are afraid of hurting my feelings, perhaps.’ Alexandra looked at him thoughtfully.
‘No, I’m afraid it would give you a shock. You’ve seen yourself for so long in the dull minds of the people around you, that if I were to tell you how you seem to me, it would startle you. But you must see that you astonish me.” pg. 83
Why can’t you stay Carl?!!! Why leave her alone?!!
“What a hopeless position you are in, Alexandra!’ [Carl] exclaimed feverishly. ‘It is your fate to be always surrounded by little men. And I am no better than the rest. I am too little to face the criticism of even such men as Lou and Oscar. Yes, I am going away; to-morrow. I cannot even ask you to give me a promise until I have something to offer you. I thought, perhaps, I could do that; but I find I can’t.’
‘What good comes of offering people things they don’t need?’ Alexandra asked sadly. ‘I don’t need money. But I have needed you for a great many years. I wonder why I have been permitted to prosper, if only to take my friends away from me.
‘I don’t deceive myself,’ Carl said frankly. ‘I know that I am going away on my own account. I must make the usual effort. I must have something to show for myself. To take what you would give me, I should have to be a very large man or a very small one, and I am only in the middle class.’
Alexandra sighed. ‘I have a feeling that if you go away, you will not come back. Something will happen to one of us, or to both. People have to snatch at happiness when they can in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.” pg. 114-115
Emil ends up going to Mexico. He loves their neighbor, Marie, but she is already married and he wants to stay away. Him leaving makes Alexandra more alone than ever-she has no one.
The rest of the book is just as good and sad. You need to read it for yourself. You’ll love it just like my book club did.
Alexandra is the best character. She has extreme intelligence but also enjoys doing housework, baking, and as beautiful as she is brainy. She kind, caring, compassionate, and doesn’t live her life following the rules and dictates of other people.
“Don’t come to me again telling me what people say. Let people go on talking as they like, and we will go on living as we think best. ” pg. 60
For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: This Present Darkness
For more on O Pioneers, go to People Have to Snatch at Happiness When They Can in This World. It is Always Easier to Lose Than to Find: O Pioneers!