I've now read six Cather books, and I probably liked this the least. It seemed to meander too much and had too many unnecessary details. I gather Cather edited down the book for later publication, but that edition would still be under copyright, and I'm kindle-bound.
The book started out quite well, making me feel like it might rank up there with O Pioneers!
or My Antonia
as most awesome books by Cather. The early parts deal with the life of an independent girl in a small town in southeast Colorado.
The girl, Thea, has musical talent and eventually heads off to Chicago to study piano. After a while, her teacher realizes that her special talent is singing. That sounded pretty cool to me. I've studied singing and was hoping for good things. But I'm not all that convinced that the singing background and details Cather supplies is all that accurate. Anyway, the piano teacher sends her off to a singing teacher, who knows all there is to know about voice, but who apparently is a class A jerk.
Even so, while studying with the jerk, Thea meets a young man who understands her artistic soul and, eventually, gets her off to Germany where she can really
study singing. She turns into a great opera diva. She also turns into a completely uninteresting, self-absorbed, petulant artiste
. While I was in love with Thea during the first half of the book, by the end I didn't like her much at all.
Overall, I was rather disappointed with this book. Cather tried to do too much, and as a result ended up with too little. This book if worth reading if you are a Cather junkie, but if you've never read any Cather, please do yourself a favor and begin with My Antonia
, or Death Comes for the Archbishop
, or O Pioneers!