The Man in the Purple Cow House

Short Description

A six-year search for her English grandmother’s grave leads Californian Mary Ames Mitchell through tangled cemeteries, dusty genealogical records, and her grandfather’s secret journals. She finds her English roots, experiences a spiritual epiphany, and learns why the socialist and pacifist activities of wealthy American Prynce Hopkins caused the demise of his marriage to his first wife.

Long Description

In this genealogical detective story, Mary Ames Mitchell travels to England and Scotland, uncovers secretly hidden family archives, and treks through some of the UK’s oldest vine-tangled cemeteries looking for the grave of her maternal grandmother.

Eileen Maud died somewhere in Great Britain when Mary’s mother, Betty May, was eight, long before Mary’s birth in California. Mary only knew her step-grandmother, whose jealous and manipulative presence nearly obliterated the memory of her predecessor. Mary’s scholarly and preoccupied grandfather, Pryns Hopkins, was spellbound by his second wife and appeared to deny Eileen’s existence as well.

As a young adult, Mary uncovered a scrapbook and learned Pryns secretly archived treasured keepsakes and love poems from Eileen. When Mary’s mother learned about the scrapbook, she had it destroyed. Mary sought out her grandfather’s journals from 1921 to 1933 about the time he married and lost Eileen Maud, only to find the important details mysteriously clipped out.

“What secret is my family hiding?” Mary wanted to know. “Is it the key to understanding my mother’s crusty, bitter shell?” The Search for My Abandoned Grandmother weaves Mary’s compelling six-year journey with her grandfather’s moving personal narrative of his life with Eileen. In the process, Mary learns why his pacifist and socialist causes led to Eileen Maud divorcing him. With generosity and tenderness, Mary unravels spiritual insights and truths about social obligation, personal integrity and family love.

Interior of the Purple Cow House




The Search for My Abandoned Grandmother

Eileen Maude and Betty May 1921

Pryns Hopkins writing, about 1921