This lesser known novel by Willa Cather is a 5 star effort equally as good as her well known Prairie Trilogy novels. The novel depicts the life of Claude Wheeler, a member of the wealthy Wheeler Farm during the period of the first world war. Claude is a troubled soul searching for meaning and yearning for a life outside of what appears to be his preordained destiny to grow up , get married and manage the family farm. He marries Enid , a loveless religious girl which doesn’t help his quest for meaning. You know things will be going south when she asks him to sleep on the couch on their wedding night. Meanwhile back in Europe Germany and France and England are locked in trench warfare waiting for America to come to tip the balance. The last third of the novel has Claude Wheeler as Lieutenant Claude Wheeler leading his men against the Bosch in an absolutely vivid depiction of war writing equal to the best male authored novels of the period such as All Quiet on the Western Front. The strength of the novel is the character development of Claude Wheeler and the people in his life in Nebraska and war torn France which also includes heart rending details of the Influenza epidemic of 1918 swirling through the horrific conflict. The novel earned Cather her first and only Pulitzer. The prairie Nebraska sections are vintage Cather but her gritty at times understated depiction of battle conditions writing mind you as a woman presumably without combat experience is amazing.
Published by Rendezvous Mountain Farm
I was born in Cascade county Montana and raised in a dozen Air Force SAC bases. I attended Holy Cross,West Point and UNC in Chapel Hill(MD"71). Army doc in the last years of the Viet Nam fiasco. My wife and I live in a log cabin I built from standing dead lodgepole trees we cut from Shadow Mountain and regional local timber in 1976 . I've done a dozen different jobs including construction, boat building,magazine writing and commercial fishing and retired from the Emergency and Operating Room in 2004. We manage a small diversified organic farm including leased land which totals about 40 acres in the Jackson Hole valley. We raise a variety of livestock which includes some heritage breeds of animals and poultry. We grow most of our food and forage. Our land is irrigated from Granite Creek and the Snake River and we raise and bale our own organic hay. We supplement with food collected from Jackson Hole Food rescue which is mostly dairy, bread and past date vegetables and food from the grocery stores and restaurants. View more posts