I love Willa Cather's stories built around the lives of folks on the prairie some century or more ago. This is another of those, mostly. It involves a young man, Claude, who grows up on a farm in western Nebraska. He feels that he doesn't fit in, for some reason he can't really articulate, and keeps searching for something more in life. He goes to college in Lincoln for a while, but his parents stop that nonsense when they realize he has academic aspirations, e.g. history, and their only reason for sending him was in case he might decide to be a preacher. So, he has to go back to make a life for himself on the farm.
His family gets quite interested in the reports of the doings in Europe regarding the beginning of World War I. After a few years, Claude sees a chance to try something different and enlists in the army. The last bit of the book describes his life in the army in France.
It's a good story. Cather doesn't go in for cheap melodrama. She just provides a calm recital of people's lives and explores their thoughts and feelings as they live those lives. She is truly a gem. I have no idea why I was put off by the idea of Cather in high school (probably my older sister's fault), despite never actually having had to read her. It's rather sad that I had to wait until I began bordering on dotage before I discovered this wonderful author. Then again, I also didn't really discover Dickens until I was approaching my dotage (and let's not forget Charlie Chan). I guess better late than never, huh?