Friday, 15 July 2011

What we’re reading… Pure by Andrew Miller

Here at Book Festival HQ we’re lucky enough to have every book in the programme at our disposal. Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you some reviews of what us Book Festival folk have been reading. Today it’s Pure by Andrew Miller...

1785. Jean-Baptiste Barratte is a young engineer sent by the king to demolish the church of les Innocents in Paris and remove “every last knucklebone” of the thousands buried there. A modern man, not given to superstition, Barratte is full of ideas but unsure of his position in the world. He recruits an old friend from the mines at Valenciennes, and a gang of enigmatic miners for whom digging up thousands of old bones is a better job than the one they’ve left. He buys a suit and falls in love. The stench and putrefying decay of the cemetery hangs over the district, as the spectre of the forthcoming revolution hangs over the novel.

Full of detailed observations and atmospheric description, Pure shows us Paris and its people through the eyes of Barratte, coming to the city from the provinces and finding his optimism and view of the world sorely tested. It’s a rattling good story guaranteed to have you gripped from the opening lines to the bittersweet end.