Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Willa Sibert Cather

Willa Cather

In Haverford on the Platte the townspeople still talk of Lucy Gayheart. They do not talk of her a great deal, to be sure; life goes on and we live in the present.

The opening sentences of Lucy Gayheart hint of tragedy but you are lulled into a false sense of security by cheerful scenes of Lucy and her childhood sweetheart, Harry Gordon, skating on the frozen river Platte. Lucy is not satisfied with life in a small town and leaves to study and teach the piano in Chicago. There she falls in love with an older married man, a classical singer who sharpens her perceptions of art and beauty. Harry visits Lucy in Chicago and proposes to her. Refusing to marry Harry and unable to marry the singer Lucy returns to her home town and
tragedy strikes as she skates alone on the frozen river ...

This novel drew me in completely and I read on and on oblivious to time passing. Consequently I'm a little behind on housework and ironing this week! Willa Cather is a great, great writer.


Rachel said...

Lucy Gayheart just moved up my tbr pile! What a wonderful quote and lovely, enticing review, as always.

Thomas said...

I have seen the Platte River and traveled a bit through Cather country (for reasons other than seeing Cather country). The countryside is somewhat bleak but also quite beautiful. When you look at its wide open spaces, so far from the literary world, it is somewhat difficult imagining a genius like Cather emerging from soil.

minervamouse said...

I have just acquired a copy of Lucy Gayheart from the library as well as a really ancient copy of The Blue Castle from the same source. Currently hoping to barricade myself in the summerhouse(only place that locks) on Sunday, and enjoy a really self-indulgent read! Wish me luck!

Vintage Reading said...

Rachel, I highly recommend it. This is up with House of Mirth as my two best reads of the year so far.

Thomas, I'd love to visit the mid-west, particularly the wheat fields of Nebraska which sway like the sea which she wrote about in My Antonia. How wonderful to have seen the Platte river - some day I'll get there.

minervamouse - a summerhouse! I'm envious. Must be a wonderful place to read. Let me know what you think of the two novels.

Cath said...

I saw mention of Willa Cather recently as one of the best writers of Edith Wharton's generation. Truthfully, I'd hardly heard of her but since then her name keeps cropping up which doubtless is a sign that I ought to try her. You make this book sound rather good so I'll see if Devon libraries have it.