O Pioneers!, is a fictional novel set in the great plains of Nebraska farm land, in the town of Hanover. The land was newly spotted with farms and houses of all different types, in a time after the civil war-- a time of fresh ideas.
The novel opens with Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant, fetching her good friend Carl Linstrum to save her youngest brother Emil's kitten, which has gotten lost at the market. We are introduced to Alex's two other brothers, Lou and Oscar shortly after she returns home to find her father dying. As her mother weeps in the kitchen, Alex's father, John, informs her of her duities to the land. Alex learns that the family's land is being left to her, the oldest, and that she is to make all the farming decisions until her brothers marry, at which time it will be divided evenly amoungst them.
After many unagreeded-with risky business moves, years of debt, and hard work, Alex becomes the most successful farmer in Hanover. Her mother dies, Carl leaves for the city, her brothers marry, and Emil goes off to school. Alex befriends Marie and Frank, young Bohemian immigrants that have bought land from her and become neighbors. When Emil meets Marie, he is subtly struck by her beauty. Then Carl returns from a twenty-five year absence. He stays with Alex until he is confronted by her greedy brothers and accused of being a gold digger. He leaves, much to Alex's protest, but promises her to return and marriage if he is prosperous in the hills of the Yukon territory. Alex becomes upset with her brothers and avoids them and their families for a great deal of time. Emil returns from college, and works the plentiful land along with hired hands, day after day for his sister. He falls deeper in love with Marie, but denies it to himself. Marie tries to continously please her emotionless husband Frank, while Emil's best friend Amedee, weds a french girl.
While all this happens, Alex sits back and enjoys the life she has created for her youngest brother. This is the reason her father chose to come to America, and reasons why her chose to work as hard as he did. Emil finally realizes his love for Marie. Afraid of his feelings, he runs to Mexico to forget her. But when he returns a year later, finds that his feelings are stronger for her than ever. They confess their love at a church fair when they "accidently" kiss.
After this incident, Emil attempts to avoid Marie, but fails. After Emil's friend Amedee dies of an appendicitis and leaves a new baby boy, it is more for Emil to deal with on his own. Marie and him fall into eachother's arms under a mulberry tree in the orchard Emil's father planted long ago.
While Emil and Marie raundesvoused, Frank returned home from Linclon to find Emil's mare in the stable and the house emmpty. He grabed his gun and searched the fields finding two shadowy figures near a mulberry tree. He fired, shot Emil in the heart, Marie in the lung and neck. He killed them both.
Alex could not deal with the death of her brother. She had raised him as her own child but felt closer to him that a mother. How could she have not known that her brother had been in love? She shut down her senses and could barley function. When she spent a night in the rain near his grave, she explained it as a spiritual journey. She came to cope with his death as she visited Frank in jail.
Carl returned after hearing of Emil's death and invited to the north in the spring. She accepted as the entered the house and married.
This story was one of love. Love of another, of land, and of greed. It's descriptive passages tell a vivid story and make it feel as if the prairie wind was blowing in your hair. Alex struggles in the early part of the book with a promise she made to her father to always keep the land in the family. As the drought somes, her brothers long to leave with everyone else, but her stubbornness soon prevails,