So, I had an unforeseen problem in taking a month off of blogging. I can’t remember what the heck I am supposed to be writing about today. *goes to scour notebooks* Aaaah. Got it. Well, before we get to our regularly scheduled book review, I have a couple announcements. (only two, don’t roll your eyes)
I have Instagram!! Why am I acting so excited about it?! Basically, a bit ago I was decided with a loud sigh that I should be more active on social media, and ya know, create an author platform. Woohoo. So now you can find me and either block or follow me with the handle @shainamerrickwriter. I have loooots of book pictures and quotes because, that is what I like! So go, laugh at my picture taking skills! (I will eventually figure out how to put the insta button on my blog side bar, eventually…)
Also, I hate quarantine. Not being able to shop for clothes or hang out with my friends sucks. On the other hand, I have more time to read, and to bang my head on my keyboard while I am pretending to write.
On to a book review!
Perhaps Willa Cather’s most autobiographical work, (isn’t ‘perhaps’ a lovely word?) The Song of the Lark charts the story of a young woman’s awakening as an artist against the backdrop of the western landscape. Thea Kronborg, an aspiring singer, struggles to escape from the confines her small Colorado (finally, a book set in Colorado and it isn’t Denver!) town to the world of possibility in the Metropolitan Opera House. In classic Cather style, The Song of the Lark is the beautiful, unforgettable story of American determination and its inextricable connection to the land. (Uuuh, I don’t know about her connection to the land, she cuts her ties pretty well!)
As much as I love all of Willa Cather’s books, this one imprinted itself on my mind and heart much more than all of the other ones.
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather is the story of an artist. One who struggles to find herself, and where she fits in the grand scheme of things, throughout her entire life.
The book starts when Thea Kronburg is, like, six, and ends when she is thirty something. Yes, it is a very fat book. And yes, it did take me a while to read.
I thought the beginning was slow. Mostly because it seemed to be more about her life, and her family’s life, than it was about who she was as an artist. Though it does lay the important groundwork about her lifelong friends, and how she develops as a musician at first.
Then we hit the middle of the book, and things pick up a bit! Which seems to be the opposite of how most book are written (hello mid book slump).
Some of my favorite characters are in the middle of the book. Including Thea’s piano teacher in Chicago who realizes that her true gift is singing, and her friend turned love interest who introduces her to the finer things in life.
What I found most interesting about the book is her transition from piano to singing. Thea has been trained for most of her childhood to be a pianist. She had the best piano teacher in her little Colorado town, and she gets the bets piano teacher in Chicago, all to help her become a concert pianist. And she is good. Good enough to teach others, good enough that her piano teacher knows that she could have a future in piano.
But she hates it. The farther she gets, the more she dislikes playing. But even so, she forces herself to practice for hours every day. To conquer every challenge thrown at her, to make perfect every song. And she is miserable for every minute of it.
And singing, well, singing is something she has always done, and while she know she is good at it, piano is what she is better at, right?
The first time her piano teacher hears her sing, he knows better. Her true gift, her soul, is in her voice. Piano is something she could be good at, but singing is something she could be great at.
From that moment, off she tumbles into a world of voice. The work is still hard, but it is a different kind of hard. Singing is so much a part of her that the work has become an extension of who she is, and who she wants to become.
How often do we spend hours upon hours chasing a dream, only to realize that we are better at something else? Or how much money do we spend hoping that we will become someone, only to find out that we would rather be someone else?
I would say that the second half of the book reveals how far Thea is willing to go in pursuit of become a great artist. She is willing to give up just about everything, home, family, health, in order to pursue her dream.
She decides that she will become great, or she will be nothing.
Obsessive? Well, some may say so. One may also say determined. She is determined to get what she wants, no matter what gets in her way. Be that happiness or despair.
And does she get what she wants? Well, I can’t give everything away, can I?