Elaine's Reviews > Pure

Pure by Andrew  Miller
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's review
Feb 19, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 2012
Read from February 13 to 16, 2012

I ended up feeling a bit let down by Pure. Miller is a luscious writer -- never a word wrong as he sketches a 1785 Paris that is about to boil over (but hasn't yet). He achieves a masterful balance between enough historical detail so that you can see, taste, and (unfortunately) smell the book's setting without ever seeming didactic or overly lecturing (ahem, Amitav Ghosh -- who I read simultaneously with this). Indeed, the prose is so graceful that the whole book has a sensuous feel despite the macabre aspects of the plot and ghoulish setting.

Why only a 3 then? Well, because the book's touch is so light as to seem insubstantial. While the sketch like approach often works (the portrait of Heloise, in particular, before she moves in with Jean Baptiste is a powerful miniature), the whole book ends up seeming incomplete or inconsequential -- perhaps intentionally as we are waiting for the cataclysm to come in 4 years. But what of Ziguette? What is that whole subplot meant to mean? What of the graffiti? The sum of the parts, often exquisite in themselves, is oddly inconsequential.
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03/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Tracy This is exactly what I was thinking, but I expressed it in a much less effective and much more simplistic way than your astute review.

Emma Woods That is so true. Glad to hear I wasn't the only
one left confused and a little frustrated by the whole Ziguette thing. I enjoyed the first half of the book much more than the second.

Joel Bass Yes! I very much agree. Beautiful writing, but the gist of the plot seemed to be "weird stuff happens."

Cath Three was quite generous, I thought, but you justified it well with your attention to the prose. It was, indeed, beautifully written, but not my cup of tea at all. Any review I now write will either copy yours shamelessly or be vastly inferior by comparison!!!

Elaine Cath wrote: "Three was quite generous, I thought, but you justified it well with your attention to the prose. It was, indeed, beautifully written, but not my cup of tea at all."

I agree that there was a lot that was very frustrating in this book - the rating could have gone several ways. Thanks so much for your kind words - I will keep an eye out for your review.

Elena I also gave Pure 3 stars for exactly the reasons you have given here. I agree with every word you said though I would not have been able to express it so well myself.

Elaine Merci Madame! Very sweet of you.

Lucy Bignall Yay! What a relief to see that I'm not the only person who thought this way! Was wondering whether there was some deep and meaningful stuff that I had missed - whether the whole Ziguette episode was symbolic in some way and the symbolism had gone completely over my head - but it's good to know that, if this really is the case - I'm not the only one!! Very well said Elaine!

Michail I will add myself to the list of readers thanking you for your wise choice of words and just star rating...

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