In my opinion, a good author is one who paints pictures with words. Gerald Durrell does. So does H. E. Bates.
This novel, the Purple Plain, is a moving landscape hot, dry, and sometimes very threatening. We start with an angry, almost suicidal warrior, resentful of death, yet courting the temptation of ending it all without a thought. As a young airman in the Second World War, he met and married, and then lost his wife during an air-raid in London. Ever since, he has cared less about his life, and the lives of all around him. He may be a good pilot, but he is unpopular and alone.
Thankfully for him, the Doctor, in desperation, introduces him to a local missionary, where he is forced to understand the plight of others in wartime. He learns that many in the village walked from Rangoon to escape the war, losing many lives along the way. One day, the missionary and village are bombed, which brings death and destruction right back in front of his eyes. Suddenly, he is not along in his anger, grief and desolation.
Then, he meets a girl, Anna, with whom he forms a tentative relationship, watched by the missionary, his Doctor, and her family. His life seems to be improving.
On a simple, straight forward flight, things go wrong, and he, together with two colleagues, crash in the middle of nowhere. They all survive the accident, but have a harrowing and desperate trek back to civilization.
If you were to read this novel in the depth of winter with the snow and cold winds outside, I know that you would be sweating and generally feeling uncomfortable with the Author's poetry of the heat, and the dust, and the exhaustion encountered throughout this book. The author's use of word pictures is moving beyond belief.
I also noted that Carrington, the navigator, was referred to as "the boy", and Anna, as " the girl ", which strangely seemed more close and personal than could have been attained by the constant use of their names.
This may be a rather `old fashioned' book, but it is a wonderful description of desperation, pain and a beautiful sort of reincarnation.