I think I am just going to stick with the idea that I should not have started a book about bishops and such, directly after finishing the worlds largest novel about religion/cathedrals/that kind of stuff. BUT, there is good news (no, I didn’t just save a ton of money on car insurance…). The second half of this novel proved to be much better than the first half. Less riding around to different parts of the diocese. More back story and substance.
I guess, in essence, this book is about two men of religious backgrounds, who come to the New World from France, and behold God’s wonder in a place where it may have seemed God had overlooked. The first half, as you may have so kindly read, was – to say the least – a bore. The second half made me care. Not like I have felt in other Cather books, but oh well, at least we got SOMEWHERE with this thing.
There were two elements I enjoyed that Cather did in this book.
1) She did a very nice job of describing the landscape. She does this in every book I’ve ever read from her, but you know, at least she didn’t let me down or anything.
2) She did an awesome job of describing the Native American tribes that Father Latour came in contact with. She was really rather… sympathetic… towards them. It was refreshing. Most of the books I’ve read from the time frame of “white people” coming in and taking over “the red man’s land” … they have this savage air about the Native American’s. Like, did anyone ever read Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly? If I even told you how many times I was forced to read that book you’d probably throw up on yourselves, so I won’t go into it too much. My fingers cringe to even type the name Charles Brockden Brown. He portrayed the Indians as these savage mindless beasts. Willa Cather on the other hand, she describes them with this poetic-ness that is pretty much awesome. Take for instance this quote, “They [two Zuni Native Americans] coursed over the sand with the fleetness of young antelope, their bodies disappearing and reappearing among the sand dunes, like the shadows that eagles cast in their strong, unhurried flight.” Nice, right?
I also want to say that I admire Cather in the way that she portrayed the Archbishop’s last moments. It was interesting reading a character’s last thoughts and memories, written by a woman who was nowhere near her own death bed at the time of writing it.
In the end though, watching the Archbishop breathe his last breath (no, that’s not a spoiler, I mean c’mon, the book is called Death Comes for the Archbishop…), I did feel some sort of compassion towards him. I wasn’t moved to tears, or touched so much that I will remember the death scene for life, but it did make me take a second after I closed the book to reflect.
So. Time to pick a new book. On to reading….