Customer Reviews for

My Antonia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Top 10 American novel published during 20th century

Since contemporary novels seldom draw me in and retain my interest past the first 60 pages, I sometimes pursue the bookstore for quality classic literature that I have yet to read. Thanks B&N for including Willa Cather's My Antonia in your Classic Series. Although relat...
Since contemporary novels seldom draw me in and retain my interest past the first 60 pages, I sometimes pursue the bookstore for quality classic literature that I have yet to read. Thanks B&N for including Willa Cather's My Antonia in your Classic Series. Although relatively well-educated and well-read, I discovered this novel when browsing in-store. Cather's story-telling style and vivid descriptions transported me to a different time and place while her character development prompted me to continue reading. The quality of the story made it a page-turner and one of the two novels I have enjoyed reading most in the last 10 years.

posted by JSAlex000 on June 26, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

My Antonia

A young Jim Burden is sent west in the early 1900's to live with his grandparents. On the train to his new house meets a young girl a couple of years older than he is. Although he doesn't know it, this is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. After settling int...
A young Jim Burden is sent west in the early 1900's to live with his grandparents. On the train to his new house meets a young girl a couple of years older than he is. Although he doesn't know it, this is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. After settling into his house on the plains of Nebraska, he ventures out to greet his new neighbor. Antonia Shimerda is her name and her family had immigrated from Bohemia. As Jim grows up he has many experiences with Antonia. When Jim is twelve, he and his family move into the nearby town, Black Hawk. Antonia also goes into town to find work. Because they belong to separate 'classes' they start to separate. As Jim settles down and continues his education, Antonia goes wild and goes to every town dance possible. After a failed marriage and an unwanted baby, Antonia moves back into the country to help her family's farm. Jim, meanwhile, transfers from the Lincoln University to Harvard. Forty years later Jim revisits Antonia to find her happily married and living a farm life full of content. Even though Antonia isn't as successful as Jim she seems to get more out of life. My Antonia is a wonderful piece of literature that shows the true meaning of happiness and the life and times of the early 1900's.

posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2005

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  • Posted August 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Touching

    This dynamic novel does what too many contemporary novels fail to do- it portrays heartbreakingly authentic characters without drowning the reader in nonessential details. This style of writing allows the story to become personal to the reader as he or she subconsciously fills the unexpressed components with his or her own unique thought process. As the principal character discovers his own personal "patria" {home, or rather, home of the heart} the reader cannot help but to reflect upon their own "patria". Perhaps this, out of many other contributing factors, was the most essential element in creating this American masterpiece. With a flawlessly imperfect setting and ruggedly realist situations, Miss Cather's writing simply jumps off the page and captures the very mind, heart, and soul of the reader.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    A MPHS reviewer

    Willa Cather¿s My Antonia is a timeless masterpiece in literature. The coming of age story of Jim Burden is told in a way that allows the book to withstand the ages of time. The setting, plot, and theme of the story along with other elements give the story a depth, and realness, that few novels achieve. My Antonia tells the story of Jim Burden as he grows up on his grandparents¿ farm in Nebraska around the turn of the century. Embedded in the story line of this novel are many literary themes. The coming of age story with Jim shows how he grows from a boy to a teenager, and finally becomes an adult. The trials that Jims goes through and the lessons he learns in his life show how people have to work hard at life and try their best to become the person they want to be. Another theme of this book is to appreciate the people around you and what you are surrounded by. At times in the novel Jim and Antonia don¿t get along and they dislikes each other. But in the end, Jim realizes that despite their disagreements and differences Jim still needs and values her (as she does him) and wants to stay friends with Antonia. The themes of this novel surround the fact of how the people around individuals shape who they are and who they are going to become in their life. Another part of this book that makes it so amazing is the characters. The characters of this book are so believable and their problems make them easier for you to relate to despite the 100-year time difference in setting. In the beginning, the title character Antonia has just immigrated to Nebraska with her family from Bohemia. Throughout the book, all the hard work Antonia has to do to help support her family after her father¿s death, and the way she almost loses herself in the town life but the finds herself again in the end, gives her a realness and a sense of strength to all readers. Jim Burden, the protagonist of the book, gives the story depth as he struggles with inner conflicts. As Jim is growing up he wants to please his grandparents but he also wants to live life and get away from the small town he has grown up in and their image of him as a little boy. The supporting characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Shimerda (Antonia¿s parents), Jim¿s grandfather, and Lena Lingard, also add to and complete the story by creating conflict and helping the two main characters. The lessons characters learn and the way they grow as people also gives the story a realistic feel because the struggles of Jim and Antonia are problems that people could face in real life. The literary element of setting has given My Antonia a very fitting world. Although it is not obvious exactly when the story takes place it is obvious that the novel is set in Black Hawk, Nebraska, sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century. The fact that this book is set in the country as opposed to the city gives it a much more laid back feel and causes you to focus more on the people and their stories without the distracting hustle and bustle of the city. The lack of great importance or activity in the setting, gives the story over completely to plot and character development. Without having to focus on keeping track of an ever-changing setting it is possible for the reader to focus more on aspects of the story such as Antonia and her family, Jim and his family, and the relationship between the two. Two final literary elements in My Antonia are the point of view and plot. Told in 1st person by Jim Burden, the point of view of this story gives Jim a deepness as you get to look at all of his thought and feelings. This point of view also allows you to look at one of the major conflicts of the plot, Jim vs. his inner self. Jim is trying to find and become the kind of person he wants to be beyond high school and find his own identity. There are other plots of the story as well but this plot wouldn¿t be possible if the book were told from a different point of view. Other plots of the story include the ups and dow

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2009

    It was Rather Nice :)

    Upon first reading this book I thought it extremely simple and enjoyable. Although the whole concept wasn't profoundly enlightening it was most definitely an interesting book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to escape the heavy complex reads often assigned in colleges. You won't be dissapointed.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2012

    READ IT, DAWG

    Most of the time, I don't like books about immigrants; I have nothing against the immigrants themselves, but the books are usually written in a certain style, like the author is pretending that english is actually their second language. But I have always been a fan of the classics, and living in Nebraska (Willa Cather's Origin), I decided to give this a try. When I began the first page, I was pleasantly surprised that it not only wasn't that style at all, but that I actually couldn't put it down! The characters felt alive in the pages and relateable to anyone, no matter who was reading it. You get a glimpse of the original American Dream, too, which I love. This book is definately worth reading, give it a try.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2008

    A Reliable Review on My Antonia by Willa Cather

    I definitely liked this book. It really helped me connect with what it was like to live in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It made me realize that you could meet all types of new people while living your life in the 1800s that you could end up staying extremely close with. I also learned about the type of work you would do if you lived back then, most likely on a farm. Death was also very common. You could become very close with someone, until the next day they could come down with a deadly disease that could kill them that die. The book made me realize that I am very glad to be living in the 21st century and not in the 1800s or even the early 1900s. It would have been very difficult to have lived back then, and this book gave me an idea of what it would have been like if I had lived back then. It gave me a specific example of how people felt about life and their relationships with the people they met along their journeys through life. This book also helped my understand some of our country's history. I would recommend this book to students in high school because I feel it is probably too dry for anyone in college or older, but I think that high school students would be interested in learning about life in the late 1800 and early 1900s. It should also help high school students understand some of America¿s history just like it helped me. Overall, this was a great book and I especially like how it helped me understand life in the 1800s and helped me to appreciate my life now, knowing what it would have been like back in the day, over one hundred years ago.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    My Ánto­nia by Willa Cather was writ­ten in 1918 and is con­sid­

    My Ánto­nia by Willa Cather was writ­ten in 1918 and is con­sid­ered the last in the “Prairie Tril­ogy” fol­low­ing O Pio­neers! And The Song of the Lark. This book is con­sid­ered one of the great­est nov­els writ­ten by an American.

    Ánto­nia Shimerda’s story is told through the eyes of Jim Bur­den, a child­hood friend. Even though Jim left town, he never for­got the Bohemian girl who influ­enced, and still influ­ences his life from afar.

    Ánto­nia has always worked hard, first help­ing her par­ents farm in an unfriendly land and later to pre­serve though the hard­ships life throws at her. Ánto­nia always pre­vails with spirit that can­not be bro­ken, that of a pioneer.

    My Ánto­nia by Willa Cather is a story within a story. The nar­ra­tor is a friend of Jim who is stuck in a love­less mar­riage. Jim is con­sumed by a fan­tasy girl, Ánto­nia, who he remem­bers from childhood.

    The char­ac­ters in the book well writ­ten, real­is­tic but form a strange group, Ms. Cather does an amaz­ing job writ­ing a book from the per­spec­tive of a young man. To be hon­est, if I knew that this would be the case I prob­a­bly won’t have read the book to begin with. I’m always weary of sto­ries writ­ten from a per­spec­tive which the author can never per­ceive. Even though a man tells the story, this is not how a man would tell a story. The nar­ra­tive might be in the voice of a man, but it is a woman writ­ing as a man, with all the insights, gen­tle­ness and moti­va­tions which comes with it. While writ­ing from that per­spec­tive might not always work, this novel comes off as a real­is­tic fan­tasy of a mid­dle aged man, think­ing back on his life, the mis­takes he has made and what “could have been”.

    Ánto­nia seems to be the per­fect woman, told by an unre­li­able nar­ra­tor who remem­bers her with­out any faults. It’s as if you made con­tact with your high-school sweet­heart, decades after you saw one another and expect noth­ing to change. Jim puts Ánto­nia on a pedestal, the reader knows she’s not per­fect and the mis­takes, is lovely as they are, are still seen through rose col­ored glasses worn by a man who adores her but sim­ply doesn’t under­stand her.

    This is cer­tainly a book of qual­ity; Cather makes this char­ac­ter dri­ven novel come alive with her vivid descrip­tions of Nebraska. It seems that the char­ac­ters belong to each other as much as they belong to the land and to the Amer­i­can immi­grant lit­er­ary experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2011

    Beatifully Written

    My Ántonia was a decent book. It did a magnificent job of visualization. The words painted a beautiful picture in my mind. Sometimes I got a little frustrated though, because I wanted to keep reading and find out what happens next in the plot, but the author kept going into the detail about the scenery. However, this is the only thing I didn¿t like about the book.
    Willa Cather did many things well in this classic. She did a great job of creating an interesting plot while incorporating historical events. I¿ve been learning about immigration in history class and this book helped me put faces to what we are learning. The story was captivating and emotional, while educational. I¿m not a big fan of historical fiction, but this book kept my attention and interest. I also loved how she developed the characters. After finishing the book I felt like I knew them personally.
    My Ántonia is perfect for high school students, but college students and adults would also enjoy this book. There were many words throughout the text that I didn¿t know, but I could usually use the context to figure out their meaning. Other than that, the book wasn¿t a hard read. Also, this book relates to what high school students learn in U.S History, so that¿s a perfect time to read it. I would definitely recommend this book to almost anyone, even if they don¿t like historical fiction. My Ántonia is brilliantly written and is very interesting. It uses beautiful language to connect the reader to the characters and the Great Plains, while educating them on what it was like to live out west in the late 1800¿s and the early 1900¿s.

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    An Escape Into the Past

    My Antonia by Willa Cather is a story about the life of young Jim Burden. The book is a flashback written by Jim mainly about his life with his old childhood friend, Antonia. His flashback is written in manuscript form and begins with when he first laid eyes on Antonia on a train on their way to Nebraska. The story revolves around the idea of how Jim and Antonia grew up and how they got through their troubles and lives together. Some other main characters in this book are Antonia's family, Jim's grandparents (who he grew up with) and Lena Lingard. Antonia's Bohemian family grow close to Jim and his grandparents on their farms because they were new to this country and knew no one else. Lena Lingard is a character that both Jim and Antonia meet later in their lives and grow very close to. The main conflict in this story is an internal conflict: Character vs. Self. One specific event that leads up to the main conflict is when Jim and Antonia experience a death early in their childhood lives. Another event is when Jim and his grandparents decide to move to a different city; which means not being able to be Antonia's neighbor any more.

    I liked this book because it was written in a way in which it holds your attention without giving away too many details. Like, in the introduction chapter you know that the book is going to be written about Antonia, but you don't know exactly how the flashback is going to be written. You expect the book to be like any old re-written story about somebody's childhood but, Willa Cather was able to write a flashback story without making any of the details too confusing. One reason I disliked this book is because the introduction chapter is dialogue between Jim and another person but, it is difficult to find out who the other person really was. This is a way of adding suspense to the story ; it is a very good literary device to use. But, it kind of leaves you questioning the story and it makes you wonder why the story was specifically written. The conflicts that Jim and Antonia experience together give you a sense of friendship and love and make My Antonia a story that you will not soon forget. I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading classics because of its themes of adventure, love, and sorrow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2010

    Enjoyable reading

    Willa Cather, who is from Virginia, has a pleasant writing style that pulled me into the story. My heart went out to Antonia's family and the life she led. I really enjoyed this book with the historical setting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    Overcoming Struggles

    This book beautifully portrays how life was in ninteenth century America. It follows the story of a young man who grew up with an immigrant girl, Antonia. Her spunk and determination to succeed is truly the American dream, even though she does not become some glorious first lady or anything. But she is happy! There is only one downer for me in the end, so if you want to remain unspoiled stop reading here. What made me sad was that Jim did not end up with Antonia-she had settled down with someone else. I really wanted them to end up together, but alas it was not to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2006

    My Antonia

    To me, the book was okayish/outstanding read. However in my opinion, Part One was BORING! It was hard to follow along in part one and it never kept my attention. BUT it got better as you read on because you get to see the young characters develop into adults. I especially liked Lena. I do agree with the people on this page that it has no set plot though. Recommend it? Yes, but good luck with part one. Have fun discovering it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    Fantasic!

    My Antonia was pretty good. I had to read it for my honors English summer project alongside three other books. Going into the novel, I didn't know what to expect, and after finishing it, I don't know what I got out of it. Pretty much, it is an easy read about nothing all that important. Great for reading when you have free time. Also, the Barnes and Noble edition has really helpful endnotes, comments, and questions at the back. They helped me grasp the novel to some extent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2006

    pretty good

    This was a pretty good book. I had to read it for my English class. It must have been good since I went out and bought it. It's much much better than ''O Pioneers!'' anyhow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2006

    simple book thats easy to read

    The book My antonia is a very good book and is not too difficult to read.I am not much of a reader myself but this was a book that i could not put down. the book was about two brothers that were moving to nebraska to live with their grandparents because they had just recently lost their mother and father.after they arrive in nebraska thats when the storie takes off with twisted love stories, friendships,murder, and lies. All these different emoitions through out the stroy make it to be a very enjoyable story. On the lighter side,the story lets the reader realize and experence what life was like in those hard days throught winter and summer on the prairie. In conclousion the book is very easy to get caught up in and i would tell any person that does not read that much that if they like learning about the past that this woul be a good book to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2005

    Good Historical Fiction

    This book is easy to read and entertaining. It's gives you a real look into the lives and times of people during pioneering days.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2005

    My Antonia

    My antonia is a beautifully moving story about fammilies and friendship. Jim Burden's Parents die, he is taken out of his peaceful life and thrust into the strange world of Nebraska, where he lives on his grandparents' farm. Living close to Jim is a Bohemian family that has come to make a better life in America. Among them is the beautiful Antonia. Jim lives on the farm for a couple of years before he and his grandparents move to the nearby town of Black Hawk. Much to Jim's surprise, Antonia soon moves to Black Hawk also and starts working for one of Jim's neighbors. Antonia has become one of 'the hired girls' who are girls who have come from their farms to make money in the city. At first Antonia and Jim are merely friends, but as time goes on, they become more romantic. Ultimaely Jim must decide weather to leave BLack Hawk and pursue becoming a lawyer at Harvard or staying with Antonia and the other hired girls. This story about descions and love is very beautifully written with a unique style. I would not recomend it to someone looking for an all out action thriller.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2005

    Willa Cather shows exceptional structure and realism

    My Antonia by Willa Cather is the work of the author at her prime. She forms an adaptation of her own experiences into this well-structured novel. The extensive and well-educated vocabulary used creates a flowing story line of two teenager¿s lives throughout the prairie life at the turn of the twentieth century. I gave it four out of five stars for several reasons. At the conclusion of the book, many life lessons are taught. For one of the main characters, Jim Burden, his childhood memories were the best throughout his life. He realizes that friendships change and he must conform accordingly. Unfortunately, there is little rising action and no climax in the story. In my opinion, a whopping high point to the narrative would¿ve greatly influenced it in a positive way to keep it exciting. Although the plot may be weak at times, the terminology and ending deeply strengthens the marvelous work of My Antonia.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2004

    A Beautiful Friendship

    A true American story of companionship, My Antonia does not sugarcoat the lives of characters introduced throughout the novel. Following the life of an immigrant young girl through the eyes of an all-American, country boy, this novel illustrates the importance of childhood friendship, and the impact it carries throughout adult life. Taking place in unsettled Nebraska in an unknown year, perhaps the late 1800's, the accounts of Jim Burden and his childhood life are captured in Willa Cather¿s smooth and flowing text. Jim¿s newest neighbors are immigrant bohemians, and the child closest to his age is a young girl a few years older, Antonia. Jim and Antonia immediately bond as Jim takes Antonia under his wing to teach her the English language. They grow up together frolicking through the fields of the country. As the novel progresses the friendship between Jim and Antonia remains constant. Jim¿s unconditional love for Antonia never fully exposes itself, however their friendship continues throughout the half century of their lives. My Antonia is a quick read, with thoughtful insights and profound meanings. The realism portrayed in this novel is very touching, as real characters and real feelings are conveyed. Many people can connect these characters to real people they know or have met, regardless of the era. This novel is very touching as everyone can relate to the story of the most important childhood friendship, feelings are never brought up, and the friendship eventually fades, but is never forgotten.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2003

    Living out the 'American Dream'

    This is an intriguing story that has an underlying theme of searching for a new life, living out the 'American Dream.' The Bohemian family that moves to Nebraska is looking for opportunities to assimilate into American culture. This is a story of determination, individualism, and freedom to be oneself. The novel reflects the American experience because it displays how people are constantly trying to improve the quality of their lives through the immigration of the Shimerda's, and also because independence is an outstanding characteristic in the book. No matter the toil and hardships they face, this family is willing to give it everything they¿ve got to ¿make it¿ in America. Much like in today¿s society, where American people have ambitions and the drive to make them a reality, so did Antonia. Her willingness to stray from the normal perception of women and to help out her family makes us think about what is really important in our lives and what we value most.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2002

    My Antonia

    An intriguingly romantic tale of two childhood friends and their journey into adulthood. I felt this novel portrayed a realistic view of immigrant settling of the West. It points out the hardships of starting over, breaking new land, learning the native language. Cather also subtly addresses the issue of women and gender roles in a time of pure survival. With unspoken overtones of love and sexuality, this is a novel for those who read between the lines. Never take the words for purely face value. Witnessing the growth of Antonia I felt as though I was almost watching an earlier version of myself become a woman. While the story is both sad and hopeful, it is purely truth. It makes me want to go back to the boys of my childhood and reminisce. If only I could have figured out as much as Antonia when I was her age, I would have valued so much I had taken for granted. This is a truly eye opening novel, and one that will never be forgotten.

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