Emma's Reviews > At Play in the Fields of the Lord

At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen
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's review
Nov 07, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: fiction, roots-and-place

Well this book was plain unpleasant to read and yet I read the whole thing and since I imagine living in the Amazon jungle would be deeply unpleasant, I suppose his job was done. It is a story about men: I found the depiction of the female characters in the book to be annoying, since they were either young tribal girls in the town as unpaid prostitutes, or the two missionary wives, one blonde and somewhat ditsy, and a cause of the other husband 'stumbling', the other "plain" and "big-boned" and ripped apart by religious guilt and disabled by mental health problems as a result. Caricatures almost, although not without truth, as all caricatures are. The male characters are more layered, at least Lewis Moon and Martin Quarrier. An interesting take on the motivations of missionaries and what it means to be well-intentioned.

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message 1: by J. (new)

J. R. I wasn't aware that this was fiction (unless it represents a novelisation of the movie that starred Aiden Quinn and John Lithgow); the version I read was an account of actual missionaries Matthiessen visited in the upper Amazon region of South America. I talked to one of the 'visitees'' children years later about M's visit; I was told that M visited several missionaries of various denomination under somewhat false pretenses. I am quite interested in your reaction and discussion of the book.

Emma Hmm, amazon classifies it as fiction (a 'thriller'!), even the 1965 version. I wonder if what you read was the original or a sort of 'making of' book? No doubt he visited missionaries as research.
I will let you know when I get the book!

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