Length: 352 pages
About: Pre-Revolution Foul-Smelling Parisan Cemetery Removal
Style: 3rd person
Where: France (paris)
Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial
engineer charged by the king with demolishing it.
At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a
prelude to his own.
He finds Lecoeur and they walk in silence to the sexton's house. They stand by the kitchen fire.
After a minute or two, lecoeur, speaking to the fire, says softly, 'Sweet Christ.'
Tomorrow will be easier,' says jean-Baptiste.
Lecoeur turns, suddenly grins at him. 'Tomorrow will break our hearts,' he says.
Intelligent, serious and thought-provoking, but also entertaining, Andrew Miller's Pure is the best kind of historical novel.
Reading it, you feel as if you are in Paris before the revolution, a city at once decaying and on the cusp of momentous change, a place of disgusting smells and odd subcultures, at once recognisable
and utterly foreign.
William Sidelsky, Guardian Blog, 25th January 2012
Not so good
It is disappointing, given the vitality of the novel's setting and set-up, that Miller fails to achieve corresponding dynamism in the development of plot and character. The destruction of Les
Innocents consumes the novel, from first line to last, but the consequences of the project are never made to matter to the reader as much as they matter to the engineer; the dark results are not dark
enough. As a prose writer, Miller appears averse to taking risks, which means no pratfalls – but no glory either. The engineer's progress and his setbacks are narrated in a patient, tight-lipped
present tense, and just as the novel rarely concerns itself with anything that doesn't impinge on the destruction of Les Innocents, so it rarely deviates from its obsessive regime of description and
Lee Robson, The Observer, 17th July 2011
About the author
Born in Bristol on 29 April 1960, Miller grew up in the West Country and has lived in Spain, Japan, Ireland and France.
After gaining a first class degree in English at Middlesex Polytechnic,Miller studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 1991. In 1995 he wrote a PhD in Critical and Creative
Writing at Lancaster University.