Five words from the blurb: Paris, cemetery, clear, bones, death
Andrew Miller’s debut novel, Ingenious Pain, is one of my favourite books and so I was excited to read his latest release, Pure. Miller is one of those writers with the rare ability to make even the dullest scenes spring to life. I had hoped that Pure would come close to the magic of his first novel, but unfortunately it didn’t quite make it, only equalling the quality of his other good, but not outstanding books.
Pure is set in Paris at the end of the 18th century. Les Innocents cemetery, in the middle of the city, is overflowing and the stench of the dead is spreading to the surrounding area.
A young engineer, Jean-Baptiste Baratte, is summoned by the king and given the grim task of destroying the cemetery; moving all human remains away from the city centre.
This is a fantastic piece of historical fiction, perfectly capturing the destruction of the cemetery. The descriptions were so vivid that I could picture exactly what life was like and the characters were so well drawn that it was impossible not to develop an attachment to them.
The only problem was that the plot was quite simple. A few events occurred along the way, but the book basically took 300 pages to describe the way in which the cemetery was removed. I enjoyed being transported to 18th century France, but the book’s limited scope means that I am unlikely to recommend it to anyone. Instead I advise you to try Ingenious Pain and after reading that I’m sure you’ll want to read all his other books anyway!