category 10: A classic by an author that is new to you
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927)
Willa Cather is an author whose writing I have wanted to read for a while; though I knew very little about her. Specifically, I have wanted to read My Antonia for no reason other than that the title intrigued me. My local library did not have that book on the shelf. They did have Death Comes for the Archbishop, which I had not heard of before.
Cather took up the past, but rather than a personal past she evokes a shared historical past in Death Comes for the Archibishop, the story of two French missionaries who brought the southwest into the United States after the Mexican War, one of whom built the cathedral at Santa Fe. . . Cather was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters and later the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The latter awarded her its Howells Medal for Fiction for Death Comes for the Archbishop in 1930, (source)I loved everything about this book!
The story was wonderful, and Cather's descriptions of people and places were flawless. I identified quite a lot with Jean Marie Latour, the titular character, so I found it effortless to see and think and feel as he did throughout the book. As a matter of fact, the long-lived friendship between Father Latour and Father Vaillant struck me as rather similar to that of myself and my husband; they complemented each other very well. Willa Cather's writing is beautiful and graceful, her treatment gentle and thoughtful. I did not want to put this book down, and when the Bishop departed this life and I closed the book on his world, we both did so with a deep sense of contentment.