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General Discussions => Book Reviews => Topic started by: Geoff_N on December 31, 2012, 11:35:30 AM

Title: Pure by Andrew Miller
Post by: Geoff_N on December 31, 2012, 11:35:30 AM
PURE by Andrew Miller
Publisher: Sceptre (5 Jan 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1444724288
Reviewed by Geoff Nelder

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.