In 1851 Bishop Latour and his friend Father Vaillant are dispatched to New Mexico to reawaken its slumbering Catholicism. Moving along the endless prairies, Latour spreads his faith the only way he knows- gently, although he must contend with the unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Over nearly forty years, the two friends leave converts and enemies, crosses and occasionally ecstasy in their wake. But it takes a death for them to make their mark on the landscape for ever…
I have been trying to add more classics to my reading list lately. Other than Pride & Prejudice which is one of my all-time favorite books I am not a big fan of the classics. When a friend of mine told me this was her favorite Willa Cather book I thought I would give it a try. I think one of my main objections to classics is I get too caught up in the language style they are written in and the antique quality of the words and it becomes too much of a distraction.
Willa Cather does not write like this. Written in 1927, this classic at no time feels like a book that was written over eighty years ago. The words and phrases she uses, while simplistic, are very relatable. But just because her writing style was very easy to read does not mean I enjoyed the book.
This book, I am sorry to say, was boring. I did learn a lot about the early Catholic Church and the French missionaries who helped to spread the faith in its infancy in New Mexico, the hospitality of the Mexican people and the way the Indian peoples were very devout to both God and their own superstitious pagan ceremonies.
The reason I did not like it was that nothing happened in the book. Each chapter within the nine books of the novel was about a different person or event that took place. It seemed more like “Do you remember when we did ________?” or “Did I ever tell you about_______?” There was no plot, no suspense, no storyline; nothing to keep you wanting to read on.
It wasn’t a terrible book, just not one I would highly recommend. 2/5 stars