This book has a lot of obvious parallels with Little House on the Prairie. My Antonia is the tale of a rural Nebraska childhood in the latter half of the 1800's. The American narrator and the titular Antonia- a Bohemian immigrant, are likable enough, but it is really action (if you can call it that) -driven... very light on character development.
The author is not really trying to give a history lesson here; Willa Cather's Nebraska is too far on the periphery of American civil society for the reader even appreciate that the Gilded Age is going on in the rest of the country. But for the presence of trains and telephones, the events of this book could as well be taking place 100 years earlier. There isn't even exactly a story to describe; these are mostly the wistful reminiscences of an overly-nostalgic urban professional adult looking back on his (over)idealized childhood innocence in a farm community, and the many virtues and adventures of his platonic girl-friend, Antonia. The reader will hear about a lot of hard manual farm labor, hand-to-mouth living, harsh winters and punishing summers, some tangles with wild animals (a snake), minor social dramas (domestic disputes, etc), and some sad good-byes.
Granted, many immigrants like Antonia had it tough, and triumphed against many odds. I don't mean to diminish any of that. It's just that it all comes across a bit honeyed, and I felt like I got a better return on my (time) investment reading Little House on the Prairie.