My summer reading was pretty much dominated by Willa Cather novels. I read Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), and O Pioneer (1913). Choosing Cather for my summer reading was not cerebral, rather, aesthetic: I liked the barn on the cover. Kidding (sort of ). I read My Antonia (1918) years ago and really liked Cather's style. The ways in which she develops her characters is intriguing to me. Even her villains stir our sympathy in the midst of their horrific acts. How does she do it? She just knows. She strikes me as a precursor to Cormac McCarthy but her scenes of violence are seen behind foggy glass instead of magnification--glaringly vivid and stark.
Cather's portrayal of the hardships of pioneer life is less than romantic, but there is something lovely in the strength and stubborn hardiness of the Scandinavian and Russian settlers. The barren land is converted by the alfalfa crop and Alexandra Bergson's single minded determination. Her one dream is that her younger brother might be educated and reap the benefits of her family's commitment to the land. I won't spoil the rest for you...but I will share with you a few inspiring images.
Who doesn't love a barn?
Perhaps the Bergson homestead before they struck it rich? No...still too charming.
via house to home
This is what her nouveau riche house would look like if I had been her designer!
via niagra novice
Or even better.
I can't tell you how much I love this converted barn space.
Carl Lindstrum would have never left if Alexandra's bedroom had looked like this.
Pioneer Inspired Fashion
Marc Jacob's take on Pioneer Chic
Alexandra would wear this to "make a call" on her selfish brothers and their equally squally wives.
I like to think of Maria Tovesky wearing this little ensemble to milk the cows.
via vintage clothing
And this one? Heck, I'd wear it to the next quilting bee.
KORS Michael Kors Lena ankle boot
I really do want these.
Orla Kiely dress
Read it. You won't be disappointed.