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Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot
Mark Vanhoenacker

'Pure' by Andrew Miller

Pure - Andrew Miller

I'm usually wary of historical fiction. Generally the novels can seem a bit naff, niche-y and two dimensional. However I picked up Pure on the back of a Times review that assured me that it stood apart from the rest of the genre; that it would 'expand the mind'.

 

 

This book has received a slew of praise for its description of 1785 Paris, and it is well deserved. Miller sets a deliciously dark, tactile and tense scene of the city, the whiff of revolution in the air is made thrillingly palpable. The stench, grime and eery mystery of the cemetry of les Innocents, that our 'hero', young engineer Jean-Baptiste is charged to remove, is brilliantly evoked, creating a delicious tension that kept me burning through the pages. This alone is reason enough to read Pure

 

 

If only Miller had carried this through the entirety of the novel. Though it was perhaps necessary for the course of the story and integral to the core symbolism, for me it seemed to lose intrigue in the last third, which had been the aspect I was enjoying most. Also, whilst rich and multilayered, packed with ironies and metaphors, in some places it became just a little too obvious, feeling a touch contrived.