My Antonia: A Moving Portrait of America's Roots and the Open Plains by Willa Cather
When Willa Cather was writing "My Antonia," she visited her friend, the journalist and war correspondent Elizabeth Sergeant, grabbed an old apothecary jar filled with flowers, set it in the center of an antique table, and explained: "I want my new heroine to be like this--like a rare object in the middle of a table, which one may examine from all sides. . . . I want her to stand out--like this--like this--because she is the story." This anecdote (recounted in James Woodress's biography of Cather) sums up almost exactly the technique that makes her novel both unique and unusual.
Born in Virginia, Willa Cather (1873-1948) moved with her family to Nebraska before she was ten, which later provided the setting for her best-known novels. The books O Pioneers! and My Antonia, especially, with their focus on immigrant life on the prairie, established Cather as a major American novelist.