Willa Cather is mostly known for her novels set in the great prairies of middle America, and though I lived in Nebraska for three years, I didn't seriously start reading her novels until I moved far away to Florida and then Texas. In the past ten years, I've read nine of her novels, and it took me this long to read One of Ours,which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. It's both a prairie novel and a World War I novel. Mostly, it's about a young man who is searching for meaning in his life, and has to travel halfway around the world to find it.
The book starts about 1910, when Clyde Wheeler is a young man, splitting his time between his family's Nebraska farm and his education at a small religious college in Lincoln. He really wants to transfer to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but his parents fear that footballs and fraternities would be a bad influence; besides, they've decide he needs to work full-time on the farm. He loves his family, he loves the farm, but he wants more out of life. Over the next few years, things start to heat up in Europe, and he finally gets the chance to do something meaningful -- enlist in the army and fight in the Great War. Like The Professor's House, this could almost have been split into two different novels.
It's not what you'd call a fast-moving book with a lot of plot, but I loved the descriptions of farm life in Nebraska, and Clyde's character development. It's also inspired me to read moreWorld War I literature -- I still own Birdsong, The Guns of August, and Testament of Youth, which I'm planning to read next year for the Back to the Classics Challenge.
Bloggers, what other World War I books do you recommend?