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One of Ours

Willa Sibert Cather

Book Overview: 

This work had been inspired by reading her cousin G.P. Cather’s wartime letters home to his mother. He was the first officer from Nebraska killed in World War I. Claude Wheeler, the subject of the novel, is a young man growing up on a Nebraska farm. The son of well to do parents, Claude is troubled by his apparent inability to find purpose with his life. Everything he does seems to turn out wrong, at least in his own mind. Although he is a skilled farmer, Claude believes his destiny lies elsewhere. While attending a church-affiliated college his parents have selected for him, he befriends a German family (the Ehrlichs’) who open his eyes to other possibilities in life.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Claude to read aloud to her. Bayliss had never been bookish. Even before he could read, when his mother told him stories, he at once began to prove to her how they could not possibly be true. Later he found arithmetic and geography more interesting than "Robinson Crusoe." If he sat down with a book, he wanted to feel that he was learning something. His mother and Claude were always talking over his head about the people in books and stories.

Though Bayliss had a sentimental feeling about coming home, he considered that he had had a lonely boyhood. At the country school he had not been happy; he was the boy who always got the answers to the test problems when the others didn't, and he kept his arithmetic papers buttoned up in the inside pocket of his little jacket until he modestly handed them to the teacher, never giving a neighbour the benefit of his cleverness. Leonard Dawson and other lusty lads of his own age made life as terrifying for him as they could. In wi. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1923. Claude Wheeler is a young man with, seemingly, everything. Well respected parents who own a good Nebraska farm that will someday belong to Claude, and he has a new wife. But Claude has bigger dreams that can't be fulfilled in this setting. His par...more

Who's the GREAT American writer ? Not Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wharton, Faulkner. Here she is : Willa Cather.

One of Ours is another in a long line of beautiful works by Willa Cather, and the one she won a Pulitzer for. If you’re a Cather fan already, well, you’re used to her stories generally going not much of any place in particular. If you’re new to her work, prepare for a languorous, yet profound, jo...more

Leave it to Willa Cather to write the most peaceful book about war I have ever read. One of Ours is not my favorite story about World War I or my favorite Cather, but it is truly beautiful. Cather's description of the destruction caused by war and America's participation in global economy is fasc...more

“He is convinced that the people who might mean something to him will always misjudge him and pass him by. He is not so much afraid of loneliness as he is of accepting cheap substitutes; of making excuses to himself for a teacher who flatters him, of waking up some morning to find himself admirin...more

I'm crying as I write this review??? And it was a book for class????

This book is set during World War I, but the first half of this book talks about the main character's life at home and how he feels discontent with working on the farm and discontent with the marriage he fell into and discontent...more

I didn't enjoy this book as much as My Ántonia and O Pioneers!. Willa Cather's writing about farm life, etc. is beautifully done but this story was very slow and somewhat boring to me. I'll definitely read more by her but for me, this book wasn't her best.

The story of Claude Wheeler, a college-age farmer's son in Nebraska, just before and during World War I. I try to put my finger on what is so appealing about Cather's prose, besides the sensitive and subtle presentation of her characters and her vivid descriptions of the physical world. I guess i...more

3.5 stars, rounded up.

The first half of this novel is Willa Cather in her element. She knows the plains and its people, and as long as Claude was on the farm and in his small town, I found each word true and compelling. The second half of the novel, which takes place in France during WWI, does no...more

"Ruin and new birth; the shudder of ugly things in the past, the trembling image of beautiful ones on the horizon; finding and losing; that was life, he saw." A mother's love for a distressed son. A son's love for his emotionally-abused and pious mother. A young man pondering life and what it h...more

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