(P)1998 Recorded Books, LLC
Unlike Thea Kronberg, the heroine, a passionate and talented young girl, this semi-autobiographical novel burns slowly, and the 15 hours have taken me months to listen to, the story being not as gripping as my usual fare. I loved My Antonia, and liked O Pioneers! by the same author, but this tale was less engrossing.
The main character here is Thea, a girl from Colorado who eventually succeeds against the odds in becoming an opera singer. Not being an opera fan and not having a word of German, I found the theme less than riveting. There is also a lot about what I'd call "the struggle of the artist, and for integrity" and while I do not dispute that every artist of any sort endures this type of agony, it doesn't make great listening if you've been there before.
The narration was ok, but I found the voice a little harsh.
What I loved was the descriptions of life in a small Colorado town; the landscape; the story of the tramp; the description of remains of the caves of the Pueblo indians. No one does the landscape of the West or MidWest like Willa Cather!
"Needs a Little More Editing"
First, the book itself is fantastic--Cather at her best. The narrator has clear diction, and does a good job with Swedish and German accents. However, it took a few minutes for me to get used to her "regular" narration accent, which has a little too much "finishing school" pretention to it for my ear. The only other criticism is that the recording, originally created for audio cassette, has an errant announcement to turn the tape to Side Two. This occurs somewhere close to the end of the first of the two-part blackberry download, and might prove confusing for some. For me it was a minor annoyance, and think Audible would do well to see that this gets edited out.
I have been a huge Willa Cather fan, and the first part of this book was excellent, but the end felt like no end at all. I expected some kind of a conclusion, and I felt like I was left hanging, not sure how the main character's life turned out, or if she was happy.
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