Friday, 18 March 2011

One of ours (Cather)

After Thomas raved about Shadows on the rock by Willa Cather, I was keen to read it. But that title has not yet passed through my hands. However, on my VMC TBR pile was another Willa Cather, so I thought I would try to compensate for not being able to read a book which had piqued my fancy with another one by the same author. Quite a chunky tome, and a Pulitzer Prize-winner no less, One of ours proved to be an excellent novel that stretched out over several days (I am getting better these days at pacing myself through long books and not either feeling overwhelmed by them or rushing through them...) (it is 459pp long).

It's a compelling story about values in the American midwest at the start of the twentieth century. Claude, around whom the story centres, lives on the family farm, and basically follows the path that is mapped out for him - he goes to college, he comes home to work on the farm, he gets married, but he finds the Nebraskan farming community increasingly materialistic and wants to find his own meaning of life. Of course, world views suddenly change with the advent of the First World War - Claude enlists, leaves the farm and finds himself in France. Quite literally finds himself in France. To say anymore would be to introduce a large spoiler, so I won't, but do seek this one out.

Of course, I am now interested in another Cather novel - Lucy Gayheart, which had a synopsis in the back of this volume, so I hope that both this and Shadows on the rock pass my way before too long.

This has been published three times; the copy that I acquired from Awesome books a little while ago is a creased original green edition at the top of this post which I think has a very stark and eye-catching cover picture which fits in with the WW1 theme.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Verity! I am rapidly collecting Cather's books in the nice old hardcovers here because they're ten a penny, and I've seen One of Ours, but never really heard much about it, so I'm pleased to see such a glowing review! I shall pick it up next time I see it.

    Lucy Gayheart is fantastic, and breathtakingly sad - I was quite haunted by it afterwards. I reviewed it a long time ago, maybe over a year? I loved it. A Lost Lady is excellent too if you haven't read that yet.

  2. I'm slightly obsessed with Cather lately myself -- I was tempted to buy Alexander's Bridge or Sapphira and the Slave Girl the other day at the bookstore -- and then I was at an antique store the other day and found quite a nice old edition of One of Ours for a really good price so I had to have it. Thomas' review inspired me also. I still can't believe I've only read three of her novels.

  3. I think this was the last Cather I read, and it's been a while. My copy came from the library, and can you believe the large spoiler you referenced was mentioned right there on the book jacket?! It spoiled the whole book for me, putting everything I read in a different light. Put me off Cather for a while, although it certainly wasn't her fault. Thanks to a Christmas gift and some of booksnob's recent reviews, I'm back on the Cather bandwagon again and hope to read one soon.

  4. One of Ours is one of the few Cather novels I've not read. Must redress that. You must read Lucy Gayheart!

  5. I now have a copy of Lucy Gayheart in my possession! Woo!

  6. Stunning cover! I'm very much back on the Cather bandwagon too.