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Summary

"The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman," writes Willa Cather in O Pioneers!

The country is America; the woman is Alexandra Bergson, a fiercely independent young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father's farm in Nebraska. A model of emotional strength, courage, and resolve, Alexandra fights long and hard to transform her father's patch of raw, wind-blasted prairie into a highly profitable business.

A gripping saga of love, murder, greed, failure, and triumph, O Pioneers! vividly portrays the hardships of prairie life. Above all, it champions the belief that hard work is the surest road to personal fulfillment. Described upon publication in the New York Times as "American in the best sense of the word," O Pioneers! celebrates the men and women who struggled to build a nation that is both compelling and contradictory.

Public Domain (P)2010 Tantor

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A master of transportive description

Willa Cather communicates the loneliness and breadth of the desolate American landscape like no one else. I had read My Antonia around a decade ago, and I think it took me this long to emotionally reload for another helping. Alexandra is an impossibly fabulous heroine and the narratives and setting in this story jostle comfortably yet competitively for the reader's attention. A beautiful novel.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gretchen Gordon
  • 01-04-16

not the right performance for Cather

Would you listen to O Pioneers! again? Why?

Not this performance--Cather wrote strong women, and this narrator conveys them poorly. Alexandra's voice sounded like Luna Lovegood, and Marie is portrayed as ditsy rather than feisty. The inflections of the women's voices generally drove me nuts. And the men were portrayed with voices that made me think of fake mustaches in a junior high drama production. Just a mess.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is a silly question to ask--why would people want to know a reviewer's favorite character?

Would you be willing to try another one of Kate Reading and Ken Burns (introduction) ’s performances?

I would not. My Antonia was one of my all-time favorite books (read in print), and I hoped I would get similar pleasure from listening to O Pioneers on a cross-country car trip, but of the many audiobooks I listened to on the trip (The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, . 1776, Alice in Wonderland, To Kill a Mockingbird) this was the only disappointment.

If you could rename O Pioneers!, what would you call it?

Another silly question.

Any additional comments?

Audible posts reviews at its discretion? The unavailability of reliable reviews is one of the reasons I have cancelled my Audible subscription.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 20-04-13

Cather writes like Wyeth paints.

If you could sum up O Pioneers! in three words, what would they be?


Spare, but there.

Any additional comments?

The American heartland today was kick started by the people described in this book.
An important segment of history comes alive under Willa Cather's pen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • 23-06-14

Don't like the narrator, I'm switching to print

What made the experience of listening to O Pioneers! the most enjoyable?

I'm really not enjoying this audiobook at all. I think it's the narrator, because I know this is a classic. I'm switching to the printed version to finish the book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I haven't been able to get into any character. The narrator is really not good at different voices and accents. The book is just dragging on.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kate Reading and Ken Burns (introduction) ?

Katherine Kellgren or a better narrator.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-05-17

Listen to a version other than this one.

The performance negatively impacted the quality of the experience. This story leans heavily toward the sentimental anyway, and the voice performance made this worthwhile tale too saccharine for my palate.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer/eb
  • 18-01-17

relieved stress

I enjoyed listening while I worked. It took me to another place & time.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph E. Rubas
  • 19-12-16

Perfect timing

Somehow this story hits a timely note today. The struggle to be your true self, to hear your own intuition and follow a course in the midst of society expectations. Beautiful!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Raymond B Kenner
  • 30-07-16

Dry land farming

The start was better than the finish. Very good character development. To much like a romance novel.