Ancient History

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Book Report

Thanks to Ben, who tagged me for the recent book meme, I rediscovered Death Comes for the Archbishop. I finished reading it yesterday. It didn’t take me long to remember why it resonated and lingered with me all those years ago when I was in college.

Willa Cather’s description of the landscape is remarkable. Of course it helps that I have been to the places she describes, but I felt completely transported to another time and place. It is such a gentle, straightforward novel with simple prose that makes you forget how simple it is.

A basic synopsis: A missionary bishop and his vicar are assigned to take over the diocese of New Mexico, recovering it from years of neglect and corruption. It spans forty years of their adventures in the desert southwest. Of course they are Catholic, so much of the book speaks of Catholic beliefs and imagery set against the backdrop of native beliefs. It takes place in the later half of the 19th century, so many of the attitudes toward Mexicans and Native Americans displayed in the book are in-line with prejudices and misconceptions of the time.

3 comments to Book Report

  • hamster

    BTW, thanks to a used copy I found at a bookstore I read Bernice Bobs Her Hair. I liked it a lot, thanks for the recommendation. Even though the story takes place in a much different era, it transported me back to my late teens/early twentites. I’ve read a few other stories from the collection too, but they aren’t as wonderful.

  • hamster

    BTW I read Bernice Bobs Her Hair. Transported me back to my late teens/early twenties. I enjoyed it, thanks for the recommendation.

  • mopsy

    Oh, good! I am so glad you managed to find it. I think it would make a great movie, actually.

    Fitzgerald was hit-or-miss with all his short stories and novels. He is either brilliant or totally mediocre, never in between.

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