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The Song of the Lark [CD] (AUDIOBOOK) by…

The Song of the Lark [CD] (AUDIOBOOK) (original 1915; edition 2007)

by Willa Cather

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Title:The Song of the Lark [CD] (AUDIOBOOK)
Authors:Willa Cather
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The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather (1915)

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I think my head is still reeling from this. I watched and enjoyed the TV adapation a few years ago and picked up the novel but I've only got to reading it now and I wish I hadn't waited so long. The adaption strangely cut the final third of the book and that seems a shame. The other changes were minor but this is so much of the story. First, the Panther canyon part, which they did keep, but then more and more of Thea's struggles and finally her moment. Truly amazing to read. I'm not sure I can get back into the everyday world so easily.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
I loved this book. I was first introduced to Willa Cather as a teenager when my mother urged me to read My Antonia. Over the years I have randomly picked up other novels by Cather -- Sapphira and the Slave Girl, O Pioneers!, Shadows on the Rock, Obscure Destinies, and the odd short story that has been anthologized in lit. textbooks. This is my favorite.

The Song of the Lark, a kunstlerroman, chronicles the adolescence and growth into artistry of Thea Kronborg, the daughter of a Methodist minister in a small northern Colorado town who becomes a renowned opera diva.

Thea, a middle child in a large Swedish family, seems destined for something larger, even as a young girl. She is noticed by the town doctor, adored by a young railway man, provided with piano lessons by her mother, and driven to hard work and accomplishment by her piano teacher. Eventually she makes her way to Chicago to study piano, and her voice is discovered.

Thea's journey is fascinating, but it is her surroundings (her kith and kin, if you will) that make the book so rich and resonant. Cather captures the life and landscape of growing up in a small Plains town vividly: the relationships among the siblings in a large family, the small town scrutiny of the preacher's daughter, the uneasy relationship between the "American" side and the "Mexican" side of the town, the central role the railroad played in the settling of the West, and most importantly the natural landscape, both of Colorado Plains and later of the Arizona cliff lands.

Cather herself grew up in Red Cloud, Nebraska, in similar circumstances, and much of Thea's childhood draws from Cather's -- down to the description of the prized bedroom which she claimed for herself in her teens. We went to Cather's childhood home in Red Cloud a couple of years ago, and the bedroom remains preserved as it is described in The Song of the Lark.

Cather's characterization of Thea is unsentimental, recognizing the hardness that one must develop in order to achieve great artistry. In many ways, this is an old-fashioned book -- full of wonderful characters and unashamed of its values. ( )
2 vote janeajones | Jul 1, 2014 |
Some of the elements are familiar--the misfit child in a backwater who by dint of energy and talent rises to international fame--the changes it puts her through. Is it talent or drive or a unique combination of the two? She gets some breaks, but she seizes and uses them. As her fame rises the old town of Moonstone and its characters fade and dissipate, leaving only a few characters to see the whole story. Cather was criticized for the epilogue, but I think it was brilliant. ( )
  rsairs | Feb 22, 2014 |
After finishing O Pioneers and loving it, I thought I'd pick this up next and read the Prairie Trilogy in order. I won't say I regret doing that, exactly, but there's definitely a reason this book isn't as well known (or as widely praised) as O Pioneers. The show-to-tell ratio in this book is, unfortunately, much lower than in its predecessor. Either through her narration or, more tediously still, through her characters, Cather gives voice to a number of philosophical declarations, especially about the nature of being an artist (not to say the nature of art, really). Some are interesting, some are not, but few are very enlivening, and whole sections of the book are mired in these discussions. Apart from that, it's not bad, and there's plenty to like as well. The characters, despite their occasional roles as vessels for Cather's philosophizing, are relatively well fleshed out and interesting. Still, I expect to enjoy the last Prairie novel (My Antonia) more, and I certainly did O Pioneers. ( )
  spoko | Nov 14, 2013 |
This is a somewhat autobiographical tale of the development and emergence of a young artist. The Song of the Lark follows Thea Kronborg from her humble childhood in tiny Moonstone, CO, to the height of international operatic glory on the stages of New York and Europe. Thea is a bit of an odd little girl, a loner even in her large family. Her character makes her something of an outsider in her small town, but she is lucky to have a small group of adults who recognize a certain something about her, who believe in her, and validate that artistic craving, even as no one -- including Thea -- know quite what it is or how to grow it. Among those in Thea's corner is her wise, intuitive mother, who carves out space and time for Thea to practice and to think, and overlooks the drunken shortcomings of Wunsch to recognize a worthy musician to teach her daughter. Wunsch himself sees "it," as does the occasionally vagrant but wonderfully talented and gentle Spanish Johnny, Thea's silly aunt Tillie Kronborg, the steady town physician Dr. Archie, and train conductor Ray Kennedy.

Even with those champions, Thea never does belong in Moonstone, and goes to Chicago to study, returning after an impoverished, disappointing winter to bitter jealousies at home the following summer. While dispiriting, her unhappy homecoming helps her steel herself to leave the past behind, and her Chicago time, while discouraging, provides her of a glimpse of herself as an artist. Her Chicago studies with both nurturing and abusive teachers lead her to an acquaintance with the means and the interest to propel Thea forward. From Chicago, Thea spends a transformative, reflective summer among the beautiful and haunting cliff dwellings of the American southwest, and from there Thea travels to New York and then to Europe.

The book has a distinctly different feel and tone in its different sections. The early Moonstone chapters have a similar feel to Ms. Cather's other prairie stories, and the Panther Canyon section has the same kind of reverence and awe for the American southwest Cather conveys so beautifully in Death Comes for the Archbishop. Since I loved those books so well, I was happily absorbed by The Song of the Lark in those locales. The later sections of the novel, set in New York, have an intentionally different tone, and were less accessible to me. Part of this I think was that it was very hard to like Thea as an adult, and I wearied of her careless, self-absorbed dialog, and other characters' worship of so unsympathetic a woman. Still, while Thea rejects Moonstone as a very young woman, near the end of the book she shares tender and beloved memories of her Moonstone childhood with Dr. Archie, which fairly redeemed her in my eyes. The artist had to break free, to look inside, to abandon ties to the past, but was able to reflect in the end, how that little prairie town is a beautiful, essential part of her. While not my favorite novel by Ms. Cather, The Song of the Lark is still a worthy, thought-provoking read.
4 vote AMQS | Oct 2, 2013 |
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"It was a wond'rous lovely storm that drove me!" - Lenau's Don Juan
To Isabelle McClung
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Doctor Howard Archie had just come up from a game of pool with the Jewish clothier and two travelling men who happened to be staying overnight in Moonstone.
The Song of the Lark tells a tale familiar in frontier history, a tale of struggle and courage in which a determined protagonist forges a self equal to a wild and outsized land. (Introduction)
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This is the Cinderella story of Thea Kronborg, born into provincial obscurity in Moonstone, a small desert town in the American West, rescued from it by her exquisite voice. Thea is one of seven children, yet she is a child apart and there are those in Moonstone who know it: Aunt Tillie, Doctor Archie, Spanish Johnny, Professor Wunsch, her alcoholic piano teacher - and Ray Kennedy, a railroad man whose most cherished dream is to marry Thea but whose fate it is to set her free. With her rugged will and fierce pioneer spirit Thea forces her way through life - from Moonstone to the windy streets of Chicago, from Dresden to New York and a triumphant debut as Sieglinde at the Metropolitan Opera. Thea becomes a great opera singer, but learns on the way that to be a true artist she must make the most bitter sacrifices of all...
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A story of a young woman's awakening as an artist and her struggle to escape the constraints of a small town in Colorado.

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Three editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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