Thursday, February 10, 2011


Green Mansions, W H Hudson, Alfred A Knopf, 1916, 275 pp

 Considered W H Hudson's masterpiece and promoted as an exotic romance, Green Mansions lived up to its reputation. An old man, Mr Abel, tells his tale to a close friend. Mr Abel, a Venezuelan, had become embroiled in a political plot to overthrow his government back when he was an unwise young man of twenty-three. The plot was discovered, forcing him to flee for his life. Consequently he spent some years wandering the jungle and living with savages.

  Mr Abel met a mysterious young woman who besides her great beauty, also spoke an unknown language and had a mystical relationship with the flora and fauna of the jungle. Between the bird-girl Rina and Mr Abel, a passionate love grew and though he did everything within his power to bring her happiness, tragedy was the result of their relationship.

 The most amazing aspect of the novel is the telling of the story with not one word of dialogue. It is all description: of the jungle, the natives, the bird-girl and her strange "grandfather," and of the states of mind along with the adventures of Mr Abel. Never have I read a novel in this form that was so compelling. It is full of action, emotion, danger, passion, extreme adventure and continuous suspense, as though the reader were also in the jungle and in the mind of Mr Abel.

 I became aware of Green Mansions years ago and have had a yellowed used paperback on my shelves for almost two decades. Thanks to one of my reading groups, I have read it at last and understand why it appears on so many reading lists. An investment of $2.50 and two evenings of reading time brought me more entertainment than I ever expected.

(Green Mansions is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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