Synopses & Reviews
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.
A Best Fiction Book of 2012. ""...Miller recreates pre-Revolutionary Paris with astonishing verisimilitude, and through Jean-Baptiste, illuminates the years preceding le deluge."" - Publishers Weekly
""...elegantly written and intricately constructed, with an ending that, like those mirrors at Versailles, cleverly reflects the beginning. And yet for all its neatness, ""Pure"" is ultimately a book about impurity, what Baratte comes to recognize as ""the world's fabulous dirt."" It's an artful, carefully wrought novel that ultimately comes down in favor of mess."" - The New York Times
""One of the most brilliant aspects of Miller's writing is his ability to question unobtrusively, through style alone, sentimentality about both life under the Bourbons and the creative destruction of revolution...he has an instinctive knack for casting bright similes, never overextended, that ripple suggestively...The writing throughout is crystalline, uncontrived, striking and intelligent. You could call it pure."" - Literary Review
""Quietly powerful, consistently surprising, Pure is a fine addition to substantial body of work...pre-revolutionary Paris is evoked in pungent detail...By concentrating on the bit players and byways of history, Miller conjures up an eerily tangible vanished world."" - Financial Times
""Murder, rape, seduction and madness impel this elegant novel...Within this physical and political decay, Miller couches the heart of the matter: how to live one's life with personal integrity, with a purity not so much morally unblemished as unalloyed with the fads and opinions of society...Miller populates Baratte's quest for equanimity with lush and tart characters, seductively fleshed out, who collectively help to deliver the bittersweet resolution of his professional and personal travails."" - The Independent (UK)
""Very atmospheric...Although the theme may sound macabre, Miller's eloquent novel overflows with vitality and colour. It is packed with personal and physical details that evoke 18th-century Paris with startling immediacy. Above all he brings off that difficult trick of making the reader care about an unsymapthetic character. If you enjoyed Patrick Suskind's Perfume, you'll love this."" - Daily Express
""It is an audacious novelist who can so knowingly prefigure the symbolism at the heart of his own work without threatening the success of the entire enterprise. It is fortunate, then, that Miller is a writer of subtlety and skill...Unlike many parables, however, Pure is neither laboured nor leaden. Miller writes like a poet, with a deceptive simplicity - his sentences and images are intense distillations, conjuring the fleeting details of existence with clarity. He is also a very humane writer, whose philosophy is tempered always with an understanding of the flaws and failings of ordinary people...Pure defies the ordinary conventions of storytelling, slipping dream-like between lucidity and a kind of abstracted elusiveness... As Miller proves with this dazzling novel, it is not certainty we need but courage."" - The Guardian (UK)
""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. Expect this on the Booker longlist, at the very least."" - The Times
""This is a tale about 'the beauty and mystery of what is most ordinary'...Miller lingers up close on details: sour breath, decaying objects, pretty clothes, flames, smells, eyelashes...He is also alive to the dramatic possibilities offered by late-18th-century Paris, a fetid and intoxicating city on the brink of revolution...Miller intimately and pacily imagines how it might have felt to witness it."" - Daily Telegraph
""...the book pulls off an ambitious project: to evoke a complex historical period through a tissue of deftly selected details."" - Sunday Times
""...almost dreamlike, a realistic fantasy, a violent fairytale for adults."" - Irish Times (UK)
""...enthralling...superbly researched, brilliantly narrated and movingly resolved."" - The Observer
""Every so often a historical novel comes along that is so natural, so far from pastiche, so modern, that it thrills and expands the mind. Pure is one...Miller's newly minted sentences are arresting, often unsettling and always thought-provoking. Exquisite inside and out, Pure is a near-faultless thing: detailed, symbolic and richly evocative of a time, place and man in dangerous flux. It is brilliance distilled, with very few impurities."" - The Telegraph (UK)
""...Pure is an incredible book with imaginative writing."" - SeattlePI.com
A powerful, beautiful, and mysterious tale set in 1785 Paris from the acclaimed Andrew Miller.
About the Author
Andrew Miller's first novel, Ingenious Pain, won the James Tate Memorial Prize for Fiction. He has since written five novels including Casanova and Oxygen, which was a finalist for the Whitbread Award and the Booker Prize in 2001. He He lives in Somerset England.
Ralph Cosham, a narrator with dozens of fine performances of British classics including The Wind in the Willows and The Time Machine, also records as Geoffrey Howard, whose long audiography of titles includes works by C.S. Lewis. Ralph, as Cosham or Howard, has performed more than 100 audiobooks while keeping an active stage career in regional theater. Changing careers from British journalist to actor in the 1970s, Ralph has been recording for nearly 15 years.