- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Sceptre; Digital original edition (March 20 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1444724282
- ISBN-13: 978-1444724288
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 118 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #323,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pure Paperback – Mar 20 2012
|New from||Used from|
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Enthralling ... superbly researched, brilliantly narrated and movingly resolved―Observer
His recreation of pre-Revolutionary Paris is extraordinarily vivid and imaginative, and his story is so gripping that you'll put your life on hold to finish it―The Times
Exquisite inside and out, PURE is a near-faultless thing―Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Andrew Miller's first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and greeted as the debut of an outstanding new writer. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign novel published in Italy.
It was followed by Casanova, then Oxygen, which was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award in 2001, The Optimists, and One Morning Like A Bird. In 2011, his sixth novel, Pure, was published to great acclaim and went on to win the Costa Book of the Year Award.
Andrew Miller's novels have been translated into thirty languages. Born in Bristol in 1960, he has lived in Spain, Japan, France and Ireland, and currently lives in Somerset.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
‘The palace is a game but he is tired of playing it.’
Eventually, Baratte finds the person he is looking for, and the task for which he has been engaged? Jean-Baptiste Baratte is ordered to exhume the vast and ancient cemetery known as Les Innocents. A subterranean wall separating the necropolis from the city of the living has collapsed, and is creating problems for those who live near the cemetery. Candles are being extinguished, food is being tainted by the smell of putrefaction. And it’s possibly corrupting the young as well, by way of causing ‘moral disturbances’. Cleaning up the mess could be a grand existential battle between dark and light, but the idealistic and pragmatic Baratte can take pride in sweeping away the poisonous influence of the past. Baratte’s first tour of Les Innocents reveals that the cemetery’s church is rotting from the inside out. The parishioners may have moved on, but there are others who live amongst the ruins, and they will be part of the challenge.
‘Over Paris, the stars are fragments of a glass ball flung at the sky.’
It will take Baratte a year to clear away the past and make way for the future. He employs a crew of 30 miners with his old friend Lecoeur to oversee the excavation. None of them realise quite how difficult this excavation will be. There’s a seemingly endless stream of corpses to be managed, and removed under cover of night so as not to disturb the locals.
‘A day’s difficulty can be measured by the amount of strong liquor necessary to endure it.’
The work changes Baratte in a number of ways, he loses his assurance and his sense of self. The cemetery becomes a form of hell, with huge fires burning to clear the air while bones are piled in heaps before they can be moved. Baratte becomes less practical, more susceptible to impulse. Why else would he trade his sensible brown jacket for a suit in a pistachio green silk? It’s madness, and soon he can’t sleep unaided. The year will pass, but who will Jean-Baptiste Baratte be at the end of it?
‘Who are you? Asked the doctor. He is Adam alone in the garden. He is Lazarus rousted out of his tomb, one life separated from another by a slack of darkness.’
While I was reading this book I often felt lost in Les Innocents, contaminated by the dust and the smell. When I finished the book, I admired what Andrew Miller achieved in it. The contrasts between life in Versailles, and life in and around Les Innocents, Baratte’s experiences (good and bad), those people torn between past and future. It’s not an easy read, and nor is it particularly entertaining. But it has its own lingering impact.
"Pure" details the experiences of Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a Norman engineer hired to clear the cemetery at les Innocence of its dead. He befriends those whose livelihood is dependent on the cemetery, Jeanne, the granddaughter of the sexton who develops a romantic interest in him and Armand, the cemetery's church organist who introduces Jean-Baptiste to the life of the enlightened. He hires miners from the mine where he worked and his engineering friend from the same site. As well, he becomes enamoured with a young prostitute who lives in the area. The mixture of old ideas and new coalesce to make a fascinating novel written in formal English that fits well with its subject matter. My main complaint would be that with the richness of the subject matter and the complexity of the characters, the story comes a bit short of fully exploring the issues developed in the novel.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The strange mummified princess that the organist is so interested in was historical, but made of wax, a big street museum thing at the time. The text does not make that clear, and the signs for the attraction probably didn't either! I found it in Schama's history "Citizens," which I think the book is based on.
"Pure" can be read without studying the French Revolution -- it's set in 1785 and the revolution didn't really start till 1789. However, it's full of ominous hints of trouble coming: the graffiti that keeps getting written on the walls of the cemetery that connect the purification the engineer is doing with the perceived need to purify France of the queen and all the king's ministers. The minister laughing at the extreme radicalism of the play "The Marriage of Figaro," and laughing was not the right response, because they tolerated radicalism that would destroy them. The engineer suddenly changing to dressing all in black: that would be a standard costume of the revolution.