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A Lost Lady by Willa Cather

A Lost Lady (original 1923; edition 1972)

by Willa Cather

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Title:A Lost Lady
Authors:Willa Cather
Info:Vintage (1972), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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A Lost Lady by Willa Cather (1923)



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A Lost Lady by Willa Cather; (3*); VMC; purged

A Lost Lady is titled very nicely. It is about the deterioration of a woman who goes from being principled, dignified and well respected to becoming a lady who is adulterous, financially unscrupulous, and disrespected. The lady Marian Forrester is a well constructed character, as are the main male characters, Niel Herbert, and the novel's villain (ish, Ivy Peters.
This slim novel is filled with subtlety and nuances but somehow it lacks the energy of My Antonia which Cather seemed to really put her heart into. This is still a good novel, just not her best and I've always read Cather at her best. In fact I did not realize that she had anything out there that was not 'her best'. ( )
  rainpebble | May 24, 2016 |
The lost lady of Willa Cather’s novella is Marian Forrester, wife to Captain Forrester who of late was instrumental in the building of the railway. She is the very breath of light and spring to many a young boy in Sweet Water. In particular, Niel Herbert falls under Mrs. Forrester’s spell as a boy when she tends him after he has fallen and broken his arm. But her charms captivate one and all, not least the Captain’s many powerful friends. Yet hers is a free spirit and, in some senses, even from the outset she is already a lost lady. However, her losses only become apparent years later after the Captain first loses his fortune and then, following a stroke, much of his mobility. His infirmity traps her in Sweet Water, preventing her from joining with her friends in Colorado for the winters. And that is when Niel begins to really notice her changing.

Along with a vividly painted portrait of a woman very much of her own mind, this story treads through both the beautiful meadows and the marshy backwater of the American hinterland. Early in the story we witness perhaps the most awful example of wanton cruelty I have ever encountered in a story. It is so startling that it makes it hard to even focus on what Cather is doing here. But I suppose that, since nothing much comes of that act at the time or later, it must be meant to serve as a caution on how we ought to treat of Marian’s own actions. Fate, it seems, can be as cruel as the cruelest of young boys.

Cather’s writing is never less than riveting. She seems to evoke a prairie locale with the mere wave of her hand, but it is surely the work of a great artist. Her central characters are as complex as any imaginable: full of contrary actions, missteps, magnanimity, and baseness. Almost too much for such a slight work. But gently recommended, as ever. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Apr 1, 2016 |
Love Cather's writing, her characters, her quiet way. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Love Cather's writing, her characters, her quiet way. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this. A woman with ups and downs, who recovers well from the downs. ( )
  mahallett | Jan 27, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willa Catherprimary authorall editionscalculated
Byatt, A.S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lietzmann, SabinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mulot, SibylleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weerdt-Schellekens, Henriëtte vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"...Come, my coach!
Good night, ladies; good night, sweet ladies,
Good night, good night."
Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Para Jan Hambourg
First words
Thirty or forty years ago, in one of those grey towns along the Burlington railroad, which are so much greyer today than they were then, there was a house well known from Omaha to Denver for its hospitality and for a certain charm of atmosphere.
Willa Cather was a writer whose gifts, and critical reception, were paradoxical. (Introduction)
The Old West had been settled by dreamers, great-hearted adventurers who were unpractical to the point of magnificence; a courteous brotherhood, strong in attack but weak in defence, who could conquer but could not hold.
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Book description
Marian Forrester is the symbolic flower of the Old American West. She draws her strength from that solid foundation, bringing delight and beauty to her husband, an elderly railroad pioneer, to the small town of Sweet Water where they live, to the prairie land itself, and to the young narrator of her story, Niel Herbert. All are bewitched by her brilliance and grace, all are ultimately betrayed. For Marian longs for 'life on any terms', and in fulfilling herself, she loses all she loved, all who loved her.
Generally considered to be Willa Cather's most perfect novel, this exquisite portrait of a troubling beauty is also a haunting evocation of a noble age slipping irrevocably into the past.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679728872, Paperback)

A portrait of a woman who reflects the conventions of her age even as she defies them and whose transformations embody the decline and coarsening of the American frontier.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:04 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Written from the perspective of a male narrator, Willa Cather's classic novel is an Amercian version of "Madame Bovary". It is a portrait of a talented woman trapped in the conventions and economic restraints of a marriage. It is the story of a woman who defies expectations, and whose personal changes coincide with the transforming American Frontier. In this work, Willa Cather expressed her profoundly modern feminist views in the life of an ordinary and gifted woman who is stifled by marriage."--Ingram.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Legacy Library: Willa Cather

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