In 1851 New Mexico was now part of the United States, a vast territory with miles between settlements. The Catholic Church sent Father Jean Marie Latour as Apostolic Vicar, eventually Archbishop, as their representative in this untamed land. American in name only, many of the inhabitants were Mexican and Indian, with a variety of melded belief systems. Father Latour investigates this land, approaching the people with kindness and respect, while dealing with bad priests, occasionally dangerous men, and Native Americans suspicious of whites who do not always treat them with the respect they are due. He is comforted and aided by his good friend Father Joesph Vaillant, the two men are French and have known each other for many years. They travel on beautiful cream colored mules, Contento and Angelica, who have a great affection for each other. This is a splendid book to read slowly, savor the thought of such good men, kind to animals, trying amid difficult circumstances to serve the interest of the people in their care.— Deon Stonehouse
Willa Cather's best known novel is an epic--almost mythic--story of a single human life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert. In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour comes to serve as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost forty years that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows--gently, all the while contending with an unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Out of these events, Cather gives us an indelible vision of life unfolding in a place where time itself seems suspended.
About the Author
WILLA CATHER, author of twelve novels, including O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop, was born in Virginia in 1873 but grew up in Nebraska, where many of her novels are set. She died in 1947 in New York City.
“A truly remarkable book . . . Soaked through and through with atmosphere . . . From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification.” --The New York Times
"The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world as solidly as our five senses build the uiverse around us.” —Rebecca West
“[Cather’s] descriptions of the Indian mesa towns on the rock are as beautiful, as unjudging, as lucid, as her descriptions of the Bishop’s cathedral. It is an art of ‘making,’ of clear depiction—of separate objects, whose whole effect works slowly and mysteriously in the reader, and cannot be summed up. . . . Cather’s composed acceptance of mystery is a major, and rare, artistic achievement.” —A. S. Byatt