The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather is the story of a seemingly ordinary person rising up achieving greatness. Born in the small town of Moonstone, Colorado, Thea Kronborg faces the realities of life and comes to know her true self as she fights for a place in the world of opera. As Thea grows from a precocious young child in the late 1800s to a true artist in the early 1900s, we see the effect that this transformation has on her and those who are closest to her. Cather’s beautiful prose captures not only the world around Thea, but also the wonder with which she views it. Cather shows the whole of Thea’s mind and self, giving The Song of the Lark an incredibly intimate feeling. I was not surprised to learn that she drew on her own experiences while writing. Many of the thoughts and emotions that Thea has are simply too real to be contrived.
If it is not already apparent, I very much enjoyed this book. I became truly invested in Thea’s career and in the lives of her and her companions. For a book written in 1915, Thea is confined by few gender norms and this book really has a timeless feel to it. My critiques are that I had a hard time getting into the book and that the prose occasionally felt overly dense. But these issues weren’t so extreme that they got in the way of my enjoyment of the book. I was also sort of bugged by how much time the adults in Thea’s life spent waxing on about how special and unique she was. Like, I get it, she’s glorious, and unique, and amazing. Now can we please stop talking about it? But, honestly that was probably more of a personal pet peeve.
I would rate The Song of the Lark 5 out of 5 stars because despite any issues I had with it, it was really an excellent and beautifully written book. It also kind of surprised me because I came in expecting things to be pretty dry, but there were some dramatic twists and turns that I didn’t anticipate. I think (based on the other Willa Cather book that I’ve read) that Willa Cather is kind of a fan of sudden plot twists. The Song of the Lark is a masterwork and I would recommend it to anyone looking to expand their reading horizons.