Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lost and Found

I'm on a reading roll with Willa Cather!  Once again, she does not disappoint.  While A Lost Lady (published in 1923) is not as epic or sweeping as Cather's Prairie Trilogy works, it is an intriguing character study and intimately explores the relationship between the protagonist, Marian Forrester and her relationships with the men and boys who live in Sweet Water, a Western town along the Transcontinental Railroad during pioneering days.  We mainly see Mrs. Forrester through the eyes of Niel Herbert, who we first meet as a young boy going fishing at the Forrester's creek with his friends, but who becomes a friend and confidant of Mrs. Forrester even as Niel becomes a young man.  He is drawn to Mrs. Forrester's laugh, twinkling eyes, and charisma.  However, after her husband Captain Daniel Forrester has a stroke and his health continually declines, Mrs. Forrester also declines in her own way.  Eventually she moves away (first to California, then to South America) and marries again.  What Cather captures in this short novel are some very warm and heartening scenes that seem to exude the essence of small town life. 

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