“My Ántonia” evokes the Nebraska prairie life of Willa Cather’s childhood, and commemorates the spirit and courage of immigrant pioneers in America. One of Cather’s earliest novels, written in 1918, it is the story of Ántonia Shimerda, who arrives on the Nebraska frontier as part of a family of Bohemian emigrants. Her story is told through the eyes of Jim Burden, a neighbor who will befriend Ántonia, teach her English, and follow the remarkable story of her life.
Working in the fields of waving grass and tall corn that dot the Great Plains, Ántonia forges the durable spirit that will carry her through the challenges she faces when she moves to the city. But only when she returns to the prairie does she recover her strength and regain a sense of purpose in life. In the quiet, probing depth of Willa Cather’s art, Ántonia’s story becomes a mobbing elegy to those whose persistence and strength helped build the American frontier.
Willa Cather was a great artist. —Truman Capote
No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as “My Ántonia”. —H. L. Mencken
The time will come when Willa Cather will be ranked above Hemingway. —Leon Edel
This audio edition of Cather's novel and final book in the author's prairie trilogy is adequately narrated by Mondelli. Following the death of his parents, Jim Burden was sent to Black Hawk, Neb., to live with grandparents. It was in Black Hawk that he met the great and enduring love of his life, the bohemian ntonia. Years later, lawyer Jim returns to Black Hawk, where he revisits the past and witnesses how both their lives have changed. Mondelli's reading will likely fail to delight Cather fans. While his pacing, tone, and pronunciation are workmanlike, they do little to enliven the author's text. Similarly, the voices he lends the book's characters are distinct and sufficient, but nothing more. Overall, listeners will likely feel that the narrator could have done more to bring this classic novel to life.