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Willa Cather: Shadows on the Rock

A slight work in Cather’s oeuvre, it concerns the early settlers in Quebec. It focuses mainly on the apothecary Auclaire and his daughter Cécile, who came over to Quebec with the Comte de Frontenac and is the”reasonable” man. He eschews new-fangled medical techniques (like blood letting!) and relies on traditional herbs. His daughter is devoted to him. We are introduced to some of the local politics (Frontenac v. the Bishop) as well as hearing of European politics from afar. We hear, inevitably, about the problems of pioneers and how everything is changing for the worse (a favourite Cather theme). But Auclaire and Cécile are too good to be true and the rest of the characters are just plain dull.

Publishing history

First published 1931 by Alfred A. Knopf