Thursday, April 18, 2013

Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather

Willa Cather's greatest asset is her ability to narrate the feeling of any particular space (which is why, decades after reading My Antonia, all I remember is a solitary scene involving a lone plow in a half-plowed field at sunset). That certainly comes into play as she takes the reader to the American Southwest in the late 1800's.

The hero of this particular story is not your typical western hero, though the plot does play out a bit like a western. The story revolves around the newly appointed bishop of New Mexico and his trusty sidekick who dedicate the remainder of their lives to cleaning up that one horse diocese. If this doesn't sound like the most exciting premise in the world, don't be fooled. Death Comes for the Archbishop is much more engaging than its premise would seem to indicate. The characters are rich and compelling, with complex motivations and intricate interactions.

The action of the book, though slow moving if you were to plot it in storyboard form, is still absolutely fascinating, diving deeply into a world few people ever knew. All in all Death Comes for the Archbishop is a worthwhile read. It will take you places you may have never considered going, but will leave you grateful in the end. This book is, above all other descriptors, beautiful.

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