The Purple Land
W. H. Hudson
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, April 24, 2017)
The novel tells the story of Richard Lamb, a young Englishman who marries a teenage Argentinian girl, Paquita, without asking her father's permission, and is forced to flee to Montevideo, Uruguay with his bride. Lamb leaves his young wife with a relative while he sets off for eastern Uruguay to find work for himself. He soon becomes embroiled in adventures with the Uruguayan gauchos and romances with local women. Lamb unknowingly helps a rebel guerrilla general, Santa Coloma, escape from prison and joins his cause. However, the rebels are defeated in battle and Lamb has to flee in disguise. He helps Demetria, the daughter of an old rebel leader, escape from her persecutors and returns to Montevideo. Lamb, Paquita, Demetria and Santa Coloma evade their government pursuers by slipping away on a boat bound for Buenos Aires. Here the novel ends, but in the opening paragraphs, Lamb had already informed the reader that after the events of the story he was captured by Paquita's father and thrown into prison for three years, during which time Paquita herself died of grief. Ernest Hemingway famously referred to Hudson's book in his novel The Sun Also Rises: Then there was another thing. He had been reading W.H. Hudson. That sounds like an innocent occupation, but Cohn had read and reread The Purple Land. The Purple Land is a very sinister book if read too late in life. It recounts splendid imaginary amorous adventures of a perfect English gentleman in an intensely romantic land, the scenery of which is very well described. For a man to take it at thirty-four as a guide-book to what life holds is about as safe as it would be for a man of the same age to enter Wall Street direct from a French convent, equipped with a complete set of the more practical Alger books.