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PURE by Andrew Miller

 
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GeoffNelder



Joined: 07 May 2008
Posts: 133
Location: Chester, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:04 pm    Post subject: PURE by Andrew Miller Reply with quote

I originally posted this book review in the hallowed ground of the Reading Room. My apologies.

PURE by Andrew Miller
Publisher: Sceptre (5 Jan 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1444724288

I was intrigued to read this book because it is set in pre-revolutionary late C18th Paris as is the book Perfume by Patrick Suskind, which I enjoyed immensely.
Sadly, in spite of the literati hype for PURE in the review sections of the heavyweight papers it didn't match Perfume except in small details.
It is the story of Jean-Baptiste Baratte the fictional engineer from Normandy who is commissioned to demolish the largest cemetery in a Paris suburb. The cemetery contained plague pits and the odours made living in the area a miserable existence. The King charged a minister to be rid of the problem and Baratte came along to do so. Much of the background and the setting is based on truth, which adds to my interest in the book. In fact the characters are amazingly well-crafted and the setting full of the sensory Show I like to read. However, although the topic is macabre it is not horror and the story quite slow-paced and frankly boring. I was hoping for interesting discoveries in the pits but Miller seemed content just to build cameo plots around the characters which made the book a hotchpotch of scenarios rather than a strong story.
Even so, I'm glad I read it -and it is a quick read - and can recommend it to Francophiles out there.
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Mandy Pannett
The Stirred POeT 2012 winner


Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3210
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I replied to this and then deleted it because I'd put it in the wrong place as well but I think I said I loved 'Pure' and think it is terrific - but that may be because I often go for setting rather than plot in a book. The atmospheric, albeit frequently macabre, descriptions in Andrew Miller's book are so brilliant that actual story line seems incidental (to me). Smile
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GeoffNelder



Joined: 07 May 2008
Posts: 133
Location: Chester, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree in general although the scientist in me knows that it wasn't all that logical to remove centuries-old bodies from so deep down. There wouldn't have been any odours by then for one thing! In fact by the five years the cemetery had ceased being used even the most recent bodies would not be odourous. They could have merely concreted the lot and have their market on top. Much as they did with plague pits such as Blackfriars in London.

Of the two, I think Perfume by Patrick Suskinds is the better book. It's also of the same pre-revolutionary Paris and has better setting descriptions IMO. Differnet genre and the middle sags terribly but then I'm sooooo fussy Wink
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