Nicola's Reviews > Pure

Pure by Andrew  Miller
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's review
Sep 02, 2012

really liked it
Read in June, 2012

** spoiler alert ** It is almost as if Miller's style of writing has the ability to hypnotise you. His protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Baratte, is an engineer from provincial Normandy commissioned to dismantle a church (Les Innocents) and its graveyard. Now, ordinarily, that wouldn't make for interesting reading. However, Miller has a way of seamlessly weaving poetry into his narrative. Throughout, Baratte's "modernisation" from country bumpkin to eighteenth century city slicker is tied in with the deconstruction of the church. His new found friend Armand, the former church organist (Miller provides many descriptions of his vivid red hair) decides, since his own job is threatened, he will take it upon himself to bring Baratte into "the party," the underground coterie of modernity and revolution. The demolition of the old, filthy, stagnant church becomes a metaphor for Baratte's transformation. The church is merely holding up a mirror to Baratte's own personal revolution, each one comes to symbolise the other. When Baratte takes the local polymath prostitute as his common-law wife, no one can doubt that he belongs to the party of the future, more than any of its other members.

I was also impressed by Miller's depiction of the feelings of a girl who is raped. It is rare to see that in historical fiction which centres on a male protagonist.
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Quotes Nicola Liked

Andrew  Miller
“First ambitions are best. We are less brave later.”
Andrew Miller, Pure

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