Death Comes for the Archbishop Review


If you follow me on Instagram, you saw me pull out Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather from my TBR pile. I appreciate this book. You can tell the identity of who wrote this and what time. It wasn’t written by a western writer because it’s not as bloody and not as Native American centric. You can tell this book is written a few decades ago because of the language. There aren’t complex words or anything, it’s just smart. Language has dumbed down in the past few decades. I blame the 1980’s, but that’s another post altogether. This book was written in 1927 and by a woman who used to be a teacher. Of course it’s going to be intelligent.

The type seems darker than in a lot of other books. At some point, I wondered if it were my eyes were playing tricks on me or if the text seemed smaller because there wasn’t as much ink. I’ve tried to figure out why to the question of darkness and I have no excuse. I don’t know if it’s the kind of type that they used or what. And it’s quite possible I’m seeing things or it’s a lighting thing. I do randomly like the picture on the cover. I don’t know why. It’s not the kind of artwork that I go for. It’s like a watery water color or something or the southwest and I don’t like a watery watercolor, it’s not my style artistically, and I’m more of like a cowboy art kind of girl. But the cover did grow on me so that I really did appreciate it. It fits the book, especially with the traveling parts.

This book did take me way longer to get through than I expected because it is just under 300 pages and I can easily read that in a day, 2 days at the most. Not this book. Part of it might because I’ve been reading a lot lately and I need to slow down and my lack of concentration is telling me to slow down. Part of it was because I would get random anxiety while reading this book. And not even like book related anxiety. Just anxiety. So it was really hard to concentrate on where the Bishop was or was going and what was really going on. I blame taking myself off that one medication. (Don’t worry, my doctor said I could do that and it was ethical of him to tell me that because of what the prescription was for) It affects my anxiety (not what it was prescribed for but having my emotions even out the first time in months was a nice benefit) and being off that med has upped my anxiety again on a low scale. But let’s talk about the book and not my anxiety. I did read this book without taking a break from it because I knew I wouldn’t come back to it if I took a break and started another book.

The book is structurally sound and it’s to the point. I think I would have had a harder time with this book if it were more descriptive. You saw what you needed to see. Cather didn’t waste your time. I appreciate that. I hate opening a book and reading a book when an author wastes your time. There were some really good lines that I liked. Cather, to me, isn’t that poetic of a writer but she’s a writer that can grab your attention if you let her.

I shamefully do not know much about Southwestern United States pre-Civil War. Which I believe is the fault of my history professors in college. They didn’t make it a priority and they should if your minor is history with an emphasis in American history. But the way that the whole situation is presented makes sense to me. The way that this priest had to go around baptizing and marrying people and the way that different priests interacted with each other. It helps that Cather was born just under a decade of the end of the Civil War. She would have known more of this era. She most likely knew people who were alive in the 1850s. That makes it way more authentic. I did like that she put real historic figures in the book like Kit Carson. And it felt realistic in some situations too. Like the travel and the lack of culture and polite society. Polite society was around but they were scarce.

Overall, it’s not like I hated this book. I’m okay with it. I just couldn’t concentrate during it.


About frustratedreader

I'm just an average 20 something female that loses myself in a good book. Life has gotten hectic trying to balance small town living, working towards teaching overseas, finding that special someone and figuring out how life is supposed to work post-college. Thank God for books and knitting!

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