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My Antonia

Willa Sibert Cather

Book Overview: 

My Ántonia tells the stories of several immigrant families who move out to rural Nebraska to start new lives in America, with a particular focus on a Bohemian family, the Shimerdas, whose eldest daughter is named Ántonia. The book’s narrator, Jim Burden, arrives in the fictional town of Black Hawk, Nebraska, on the same train as the Shimerdas, as he goes to live with his grandparents after his parents have died. Jim develops strong feelings for Ántonia, something between a crush and a filial bond, and the reader views Ántonia’s life, including its attendant struggles and triumphs, through that lens.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The basement kitchen seemed heavenly safe and warm in those days—like a tight little boat in a winter sea. The men were out in the fields all day, husking corn, and when they came in at noon, with long caps pulled down over their ears and their feet in red-lined overshoes, I used to think they were like Arctic explorers.

In the afternoons, when grandmother sat upstairs darning, or making husking-gloves, I read “The Swiss Family Robinson” aloud to her, and I felt that the Swiss family had no advantages over us in the way of an adventurous life. I was convinced that man’s strongest antagonist is the cold. I admired the cheerful zest with which grandmother went about keeping us warm and comfortable and well-fed. She often reminded me, when she was preparing for the return of the hungry men, that this country was not like Virginia, and that here a cook had, as she said, “very little to do with.” On Sundays she gave us as much. . . Read More

Community Reviews

“Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.” (p.259)

More than a Wild West story about the adventurous frontier life in the Nebraska plains, I thought My Ántonia was a novel about red seas of prairie grass and hard blue skies and black ploughs outlined...more

I am absolutely convinced that I have fallen in love with Cather’s writing, she abducts you with the detailed descriptions of the landscapes and with the characters of her stories, creating a real addiction to your soul...
In this work we find the destiny of Bohemian and Scandinavian families struggling wi...more

i read this book the same day i found out that sparkling ice had introduced two new flavors, pineapple coconut and lemonade.

what does this have to do with anything, you ask??

well, sparkling ice is sort of a religion with me, and this book was wonderful, so it was kind of a great day, is all. i don't have a lot of those.

why have...more

Maybe what I love about Willa Cather is all the kinds of love and belonging she writes. Her unhappy marriages and her comfortable ones; her volatile love and her unconsummated longing; and her lone, happy people, are all so different, but so how I see the world. I think the way she writes them is...more

What a spell Willa Cather weaves in this, the final book of her Great Plains Trilogy, sometimes known as the Prairie Trilogy. This novel, more than any of the two previous novels, reminded me absurdly yet so strongly of Kent Haruf’s novels. Absurdly? Yes – their time frame is separated by a few g...more

“I’d like to have you for a sweetheart, or a wife, or my mother or my sister-anything that a woman can be to a man. The idea of you is a part of my mind. You influence my likes and dislikes, all my tastes, hundreds of times when I don’t realize it. You really are a part of me.”

Oh, Jim! She r...more

This Nebraskan prairie civilization is like the dogtown that lives below it. It is a web of families & favors. And that's the way of life. Antonia, the magnetic and emblematic figure in the middle of it all--in this narrative of remembrance, of singular impressions--is a strong rock, a hardwo...more

James Quayle Burden loses both his parents at the tender age of ten in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains, sent by relatives to his grandparents (Josiah and Emmaline Burden) by train, in the custody of a trusted employee that worked for his late father teenager Jake Marpole, reaching the farm...more

"There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made."- Willa Cather, My Ántonia

For someone who gr...more

I would have called 'My Ántonia' an immigrant novel. But then I realized that dubious distinction is reserved only for the creations of writers of colour - Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Xiaolu Guo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sunjeev Sahota, Yiyun Li, Lee Chang Rae and so on and so forth. Especially now when...more

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