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Purple Plain

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  20 reviews
During 1945 H. E. Bates spent some time in Burma and India with the aim of writing about the Burmese war for American readers. The experience inspired three ‘Asian novels’, one of which was “The Purple Plain”. After returning to England he heard a story about a pilot who, having lost his wife to a German bomb while on honeymoon, as a consequence had become "a much-decorate ...more
Textbook Binding, 460 pages
Published November 18th 1975 by John Curley & Assoc (first published November 27th 1947)
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The Purple Plain is one of those rare gems that I found going through an old relative's books that had been brought down from the attic and I was being offered first pick before they were donated. I have found many a great book like that. When I picked up Purple plain, I expected an Alistair Mclean type action novel, instead what I got was a slow paced book with a bit of adventure and a predictable ending. However, that is not to say this is not a good book.
One of the strongest attributes of th
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
The story was ok but took more than half of the book to get started. I didn't like how the author characterized some of the people. The Burmese were all almond or almond eyed. One lady is described as having "ugly Irish lips" - what's with that.He talks about one Burmese as having "no imperial humbug", which is exactly what the author had.
Andy Beck
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Purple Plain is the only novel of Bates' that I've read so far, but surely it must rank among his best. Set in the midst of World War II, it follows the hardships and subsequent spiritual rebirth of one Bill Forrester, a British fighter pilot whose life has been torn apart by his young wife's death in the London bombings.

Posted to far-away Burma (now Myanmar) as part of British operations to liberate the country from the Japanese, and with no obvious end to the war in sight, Forrester battle
Richard Jr.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I cruised through author Bates' book in very short order, captured by the lure of one of the exotic areas of the world, Burma during World War 2 and the descriptive expertise of the writer who builds a plot that draws the reader from chapter to chapeter.
The author accurately depicts the down and out mental condition of Forrester, who, after recovering from wounds as a pilot, has been stationed in an isolated corner of Burma. Here, sweltering in the insuperable heat and bugs of the tropical pl
David Lowther
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
H E Bates wrote The Darling Buds of May. The Purple Plain is about as far as its possible to get from that. The story is set in Burma towards the end of 'the forgotten war' At a small outpost, a bitter and cynical English pilot flies every mission hoping to be killed. Two years earlier he had lost his wife in the Blitz. A meeting with a beautiful Burmese girl gives him reason to live, a new resolve when his plane crashes while flying a short mission.

The book's great strength is the quality of wr
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The movie of this book has always been one of my favourites, evoking a time, place and memories from when I first saw it years ago. I don't know why until very recently I hadn't bothered to read the book, but I'm really glad I did now.
It's always interesting to compare the book and the movie, and to notice differences and think about why the movie isn't the same as the book. Sometimes it's fairly obvious, sometimes not.
The character of Blore was interesting. In the book, you almost can't help li
I quite enjoyed it - the writing style is good and the characters are interesting, although the actual story itself wasn't the fast paced, action packed book I would normally go for. It was intriguing though, despite the blurb on the back being a bit misleading. The 'crash' doesn't happen until a few chapters from the end, so it is a book about Forrester, rather than of the accident. The heat of the plain, the desperation of the men and change in their attitudes was really well portrayed. Overal ...more
Jan Bailey
Interesting book set in Burma. Whilst I enjoy Bates i did find a lot of repetition of phrases and descriptions in this. I'm surprised a good editor did not point this out.
Chris Waterford
I love H. E. Bates---mainly gentle romances that are well written but this is a war survival story and the romance seemed slight. I gave up on it.
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Excellent war story. Not typical, set in Burma during WWII and deals with a British pilot who must get back from behind enemy lines. The movie starred Gregory Peck.
Some good stretches. Made a good movie.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How did I never before hear of this book or even its more famous movie? Unbeknownst to Forrester (or us), he is under observation for a possible Section 8--or whatever is the British equivalent--even though his remote RAF unit in rural Burma is desperately in need of manpower and Murphy's Law is righteously fulfilling itself at every opportunity. Just when he straightens out and starts to regain his humanity and will to live, it looks as if his death wish will finally be fulfilled, taking severa ...more
Michele King
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written story of a WWII pilot in Burma that was written shortly after the war. Initially he is angry and bitter due to watching his new, young wife die in the blitz in London. He finds himself again through love, death and hardship. I liked the vividness of the writer's descriptions of people, places and emotions and, I liked the storyline. Because of when this was written, there are minor stereotypical descriptions that were considered acceptable for that time. I
Mr Russell
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent novel, well written and evocative. Fewer stuff upper lips than many books of that era.
Julie McSorley
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A couple of years ago I came into possession of a 1949 purple canvas-bound edition of this book, and have only just got around to reading it. I was not disappointed. It's well worth delving back into some of the great literary classics and taking a master-class on great literature. Occasional plot lapses are hardly noticeable because Bates keeps the time/place momentum (wartime, heat-soaked Burma) throughout. The lucid descriptions of desolate landscapes and characters; locals and stiff upper-li ...more
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
Set during World War II The Purple Plain is the story of an RAF pilot who, distraught after the death of his wife, seeks to end his own life. He meets and falls in love with a young Burmese girl and this gives him the will to live. He and his navigator crash in the Burmese desert and latter part of the novel describes their fight for survival. The narrative is told with Bates' typical sentimental style and rather dated prose, but it's a great story and one of his better novels.
Virginia Appleton
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is so atmospheric and the characters and details completely enthralling
Keith Currie
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Herbert Ernest Bates, CBE is widely recognised as one of the finest short story writers of his generation, with more than 20 story collections published in his lifetime. It should not be overlooked, however, that he also wrote some outstanding novels, starting with The Two Sisters through to A Moment in Time, with such works as Love For Lydia, Fair Stood the Wind for France and The Scarlet Sword e ...more

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