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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
8

on 12 February 2016
An appreciated gift for my brother-in-law.
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on 12 August 2013
What a fantastic read. It should be turned into a film. A friend gave to me as she read it as a little girl.
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on 7 December 2012
Very good product and service. Good timing just what I wanted. Timely. Good packaging. Very good product and service. Great
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2003
Hudson was a novelist, a naturalist and a founder of the RSPB. He was regarded in his own day as a master stylist by, amongst others, Conrad, Ford and Galsworthy. More recently he has been acclaimed by such luminaries as Borges and Marquez. There is even a statue to Rima, a character from his 'Green Mansions', in Hyde Park. Yet in 21st century Britain he is little known and less read.
This book of reminiscences is a perfect introduction - being an account of the first fifteen years or so of his life, a life spent on the Pampas of Argentina. His natural surrroundings are vividly recreated - especially his beloved birds -as are the Dickensian characters who peopled his childhood and the dramatic events to which he was a witness. Such a scene as the slaughter of cattle by gauchos is chillingly unforgettable. Hudson's prose, unpretentious and exact, is a powerful tool and it is easy to become lost in this long vanished world.
It is important to remember that Hudson grew up in the Victorian era - especially when passing references to race jar on modern ears. The book is partly an intellectual autobiography which reaches a kind of resolution with his introduction, through the good offices of his brother, to Darwin's 'Origin of the Species'.
Unless Hudson's work is revalued and reclaimed by the critical establishment, this will always be a book loved by a lucky few. That would be shame.
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on 17 January 1998
We badly need to have this book once more available. Full of insights into the meaning of human life in nature, it also chronicles the passing of a virgin landscape in S.America with the coming of a predatory civilization. Hudson came of age with little schooling but endless hours of observing life (especially birds) and reading. His friends in England, where he went in his 30s, often wondered why he was habitually sad. This profound reminiscence explains why.
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on 11 May 2003
I read this book in a stuffy flat in Buenos Aires during the fall of the government in 2001. It got me through the stress by transporting me into another, simpler world.
W.H Hudson lived on a farm in the province of Buenos Aires in the mid 19th century. His autobiographical narrative rejoices in all things natural, his descriptions of the flora and fauna, and the hardships of farm life are utterly engaging. When he describes the slaughterhouse in Buenos Aires, you can almost smell it.
Hudson died, penniless in Bayswater, and the melancholy of his end infuses the story.
This is one of the great travel/life story books, written in a simple manner, through which it will bewitch you.
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on 14 December 2007
It's a little difficult to expand on my title for this review.

The author suffered an acute illness in later life and, during this time, his childhood memories came back to him with a clarity that is a cause of envy for those of us with the usual hotch potch of muddied memories of our best times.

He then took the opportunity to record these memories.

Mr Hudson gives an insight into a world distant both in geography and time.

Describing many different aspects of his childhood - from the vast pampas to a strange encounter in Buenos Aries - the narrative is always captivating.

To know that he ended his life "penniless in Bayswater" adds further pathos.

I could - and often do - go on, but suffice it to say that, 1 year after I read this book I still think of it often.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 June 2017
W H Hudson is of English extraction. He was born in Argentina in 1841, where his family was trying to scratch out a living on the pampas. This work was written late in life, with a first draft prepared during a six week convalescence on the south coast of England. Hudson’s memoir was first published in 1918, and thanks to the publisher, Eland, kept in print. Kudos. Almost the entire work concerns the years from his first memories, at age 4, until age12. Living on an isolated farm the natural world was his primary entertainment, and at the age of 6, he was riding his own pony, and ranging considerable distances. No “helicopter parents” in the days before the invention of that flying machine.

Admittedly, my principal source of knowledge about this extensive country is one musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber: Evita: The Complete Motion Picture Music Soundtrack. Therefore I found myself intensely interested in his descriptions of a “cone” country at the time that England was commencing the Industrial Revolution, France would have another brief revolution, and commenced its Second Empire, and the United States expanded westward, but was unable to resolve its fundamental “dilemma” that would lead to the Civil War.

Flat. The principal geographic feature of the pampas, where even a slight rise was a major feature. Hudson commenced his life living at a home called the “Los Veinte y cinco Ombues,” which means the 25 Ombu trees – yet something more I had never heard of, but now Google will provide some magnificent pictures of this tree. In good years, meaning rain abundant, the pampas would be covered with thistles, which were good eating for the cattle. Birds were his favorite fauna; he covered virtually all the fauna though, including the large snakes, and usually provides their scientific names. Egg-collecting, for food, was a frequent pastime.

The English were a minority in a “gaucho culture.” The Spanish had settled the area for at least two centuries, as evidenced by ancient popular trees that surrounded the estates (which were often mere hovels). Hudson provides sketches of the people who lived in the area, including an Englishman, Captain Scott, and an itinerant beggar by the name of con-stair lo-vair. Schooling? Itinerant teachers, likewise, who would stay on the farm for periods of time. Mr. Trigg appeared to be bi-polar, and was dismissed when he use a bullwhip on the kids. The author provides succinct sketches of the neighbors, English and Spanish, within a 25 km radius.

He also visits Buenos Ayres (so spelt) on a couple of occasions, and provides a memorable depiction of the stock yards, and the method whereby cattle were slaughtered, as well as washer women being harassed by rich toughs. After Latin America threw off the Spanish ‘yoke’ (which he always puts in quotes), it seems they have been rules by countless thugs. Hudson depicts the rule of the Dictator, Rosas, who reigned for 17 years, 1835-1852, and how he was overthrown (by, yes, new thugs). An integral part of the “gaucho culture” appears to be fighting and killing, just for the sport of it.

Hudson contracted typhus at the age of 13, and within two years contracted rheumatic fever. With the former, his mother, who had been largely unmentioned until then, carefully nursed him back to health. She also was a nature enthusiast, and encouraged her child. With the latter illness, the fever permanently damaged his health for life. He never really says what he did for all that period between the age of 15, and finding the south coast of England during the First World War. He does briefly discuss animism and Darwinism replacing more structured religious beliefs.

Childhood memories and their accuracy. At the commencement of his work Hudson mentions, without directly attributing, the concept of Marcel Proust’s Madeleine, the taste of which initiates a rush of memories. Hudson says it is the perfume of some flower, but then says his memories are actually based on some different reflex, seemingly available due largely to his convalescence. Like Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” a reference to high school, the high point in one’s life, when one was the star pitcher, I had a nagging problem with Hudson’s account of a glorious childhood between, largely, 5 and 11, and then nothing thereafter, although the account seemed completely authentic. I’d even have appreciated a map that revealed where they actually lived and traveled. Overall, 4-stars.
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