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June 2020 Reminder for The Willa Cather Short Story Project

Our story this month is “Before Breakfast,” the final of the three stories in The Old Beauty and Others (1948).

“Before Breakfast” was the last story Cather finished. She wrote it in the summer of 1944 while staying on Mt. Desert Island in Maine.

WWII made it impossible for Cather and Edith Lewis to travel to their summer home on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. This was the only property they owned. Click here to see a video tour of the cottage and property that was created by The Inn at Whale Cove Cottage, current owner of the cottage (which you can rent).

In Willa Cather: A Literary Life, James Woodress writers that although Cather’s letters to friends around this time were pessimistic, “Before Breakfast” ends on “a note of affirmation.” It’s about Henry Grenfell, an aging business man “who reflects on life and death in his cabin on the island and during an early morning walk along the cliffs.” It’s the only story Cather wrote set on Grand Manan.

What’s Next?

Read “Before Breakfast” sometime this month. I’ll have my response post up on Wednesday, June 24th. Come back to share your thoughts about this story on that post or, if you can’t wait, feel free to leave a comment here.

Happy Reading!


New to this blog? Learn more about the Willa Cather Short Story Project here. In a nutshell, we’re reading one Cather short story a month. I remind everyone what story we’re reading on the second Wednesday of the month and then share a response on the fourth Wednesday of the month.


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