Year: 1912 (Original)
Publisher: 2004 Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading Edition
Jane Withersteen lives in Utah in the late 1890s and has the distinction of being one of the richest people in her town. When her father died, he left everything he owned to her. Although Jane is a devout Mormon, she doesn't agree with the leaders of her Mormon group and definitely does not want to marry them. Jane is "pure" of heart and wants to help everyone, Mormon and Gentile alike, which is what leads her to have trouble with the villains in the story. One afternoon, a rugged, handsome gunslinger rides into town and starts fighting for Jane and, of course, they fall in love despite their differences in religion (she's a Mormon and he's a Gentile).
In my mind, when one refers to the western genre, they're almost always referring to either a Louis Lamour or Zane Grey novel; but, I don't recall ever reading a Zane Grey novel before. The introduction to this novel calls Riders of the Purple Sage both the most popular western novel of all time and also one of the pioneering and definitive works of western literature. I must admit that there were some very compelling parts in this book. I can see how Zane Grey defined the genre. I feel like the characters could have been better developed but, it was 1912 and I'm not sure just how much character definition existed in novels then. I'm definitely glad I read the book although I don't think I'll be reading very more in the genre.