Review: A Lost Lady


I’ve just finished A Lost Lady by Willa Cather. The book was suggested to me by my boyfriend who knows how much I love classic literature. I was very skeptical about reading this particular novel though because it’s American lit. The only American literature I have a tendency to be fond of is the contemporary sort and men who became expats in the 20s. It’s nothing personal, it’s just how my taste falls.

HOWEVER, I will say despite my skepticism this novel was quite good. Niel Herbert is an admirable character – a gentleman with curiosity and a desire to learn. He’s a little flat but very observant; it’s a good quality in a narrator. The main source of intrigue is the lost lady herself Marian Forrester, the charming and vivacious wife of the esteemed Captain Forrester, whom I believe is the best character in the novel. He’s the kind of character that says very little but still commands a presence. It’s as effective in literature as it is in an actual personage.

It’s a good story showing the facets of a charming woman and how she loses everything, changing over the years into something Niel can’t comprehend. It shows her secrets and desires and how you can never truly know what a person may be thinking or wanting. It’s a quick read (under 200 pages) and while a little difficult to get into certainly worth it. Willa Cather has a nice, conversational tone that captures the cadence of the previous century.

But may I just say how distracting the name Niel is. Every time I looked at it I wanted it to say Neil (N-e-i-l). My head just kept mentally correcting the spelling even though Niel is perfectly acceptable I suppose. I also cannot be certain I was pronouncing his name correctly the entirety of the novel, but certain pronunciation websites assure me that it is pronounced the same as Neil. Just wanted to throw that in there.


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