Willa Cather’s darkest and most dramatic work, My Mortal Enemy is an agonisingly honest examination of marriage, love, and the evolution of a single person’s life.
This 1926 novella depicts a life set for fortune that ultimately results in spite and bitterness. Myra Henshawe, an Irish Catholic, abandoned her uncle and her fortuitous inheritance, instead eloping with her true love, an Ulster Protestant. But is love alone enough to sustain a marriage? As Myra ages and her husband’s economic position worsens, she grows resentful and is filled with regret.
The narrator, Nellie Birdseye, is a young woman who has met Myra three times. She has also been filled with many stories and snippets of gossip about the infamous woman from her Aunt Lydia, who helped Myra elope. Towards the end of Myra’s life, it is Nellie who comforts her, and Willa Cather poses a revelatory question to her readers about the true enemy in one’s life.
Featuring an introductory essay by H. L. Mencken, My Mortal Enemy is a short classic that would make a great addition to the bookshelves of all Cather readers.