"He had never learned to live without delight. And he would have to learn to, just as, in a Prohibition country, he supposed he would have to learn to live without sherry. Theoretically he knew that life is possible, may be even pleasant, without joy, without passionate griefs. But it had never occurred to him that he might have to live like that."
Largely hailed for her sense of place, I've always believed that Willa Cather's talent for writing a realistic character is one of the core qualities that make her books so easy to love. She writes of struggles and sorrows familiar to us all. The Professor's House was a look at a man coming to terms with the fact that his life had shifted gears, and not necessarily for the best. Looking back at his life as he nears retirement, he thinks about Tom Outland - the man whose life so greatly affected his family in a variety of ways.
Willa Cather's most famous setting is, perhaps, the Great Plains of Nebraska, but she is equally as talented in her magnificent descriptions of the canyons of New Mexico. Her love for the majestic serenity of the Southwest is apparent. My heart has never sung in adoration of that locale, preferring the lakes and trees of the Sierra Nevada Mountains I call home, but the more I read of Cather, the more I develop that love and respect for a landscape so different from my own.
|Makes me want to go visit! (photo credit)|
Quiet and contemplative, as is to be expected, The Professor's House was not my favorite Cather book I've read, but it is worth a read for the middle section alone. Check out my other Willa Cather reviews here, and for a fabulous summary (and more info and discussion about The Professor's House,) I highly recommend checking out this post by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis.)
"He had let something go—and it was gone: something very precious, that he could not consciously have relinquished, probably. He doubted whether his family would ever realize that he was not the same man they had said good-bye to; they would be too happily preoccupied with their own affairs. If his apathy hurt them, they could not possibly be so much hurt as he had been already."