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Now We Shall Be Entirely Free

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  933 ratings  ·  151 reviews
By the Costa Award-winning author of PURE, a stunning historical novel with the grip of a thriller, written in richly evocative, luminous prose.

One rain-swept February night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain's disastrous campaign against Napoleon's forces in Spain.

Gradually Lacroix recovers his he
Hardcover, 421 pages
Published August 23rd 2018 by Sceptre
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3.94  · 
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 ·  933 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5, rounded up

I had previously read three of Andrew Miller’s novels, enough to have made me a fan. Having finished Now We Shall Be Entirely Free, I am further impressed and really need to seek out the ones I haven’t read. Miller is a writer who is immensely talented and, I suspect, may not have the audience he rightfully deserves. I doubt he is known to most US readers as only a few of his novels have found US publishers. I also suspect, after reading Johanna Thomas-Corr's excellent review in T
Gumble's Yard
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
“The last part of the journey was the most tedious. They felt they were close but they weren’t, not yet. They crossed the border, crossed a line of hills, crossed another ….. There was something military about it”

My first book by this author whose previous books have won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Costa/Whitbread Prize and IMPAC Dublin Literary award and been shortlisted for the Booker prize– I was drawn to this book by a review in the Guardian which stated “the fact it’s not made
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2018
The 2018 Man Booker long list contains a book in which a man returns from war and struggles to come to terms with what he saw and did (The Long Take). It also includes a work of historical fiction (Washington Black). Andrew Miller’s new novel combines these two ideas and it initially seems a travesty that Edugyan’s book sits on the Man Booker list and Miller’s has been passed over.

We meet John Lacroix as he returns from the Peninsula War (1809), a man physically and mentally damaged by what has
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you’re looking for a good story after the Booker baker’s dozen of finest fiction, Andrew Miller’s Now We Shall Be Entirely Free awaits you. It’s exciting, compelling, and thoroughly interesting. With his lovely prose, Miller has refashioned a flight-pursuit trope into an historical novel or, perhaps more accurately, an historical fantasy set loosely in the the Napoleonic Wars. Miller also intentionally or unintentionally repurposes the My Lai massacre as part of his historical fantasy, even i ...more
Claire Fuller
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this historical drama about Captain John Lecroix who in 1809 is brought back wounded from the Napoleonic wars in Spain. Instead of returning to his regiment he flees to Bristol, Glasgow and ultimately the Hebrides. On his trail are two soldiers under secret orders - and one of them, Calley, is particularly nasty and actually scared me. The two stories come together right at the end (which was a little rushed for me). I loved the ambiguous ending.
Beautifully written, especially the descr
Katie Lumsden
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well now, that was amazing. A brilliantly told historical fiction novel, with rich characters and a wonderful plot - such tensely dramatic moments! I'd highly recommend, and will definitely be reading more by Andrew Miller in the future.
My first Andrew Miller novel, and it was a pretty great one.

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free is a historical novel, but it is also many other things - a war novel, a romance, an adventure story, a cat and mouse chase, a story of friendship. Above all it is a suspenseful story about one man running away from his past.

We meet our protagonist, John Lacroix, on a rainy night in 1809. John has been brought home from Spain and the Peninsular War in a bad way, and is left with his housekeeper in rural Som
Benedict Lane
Ah we’ve fucked it lads, don’t think we’re going to be selling many of these next month.

I literally just finished the book and yet I would still struggle to tell you anything significant that happens in it - for some reason the majority of the story revolves around a woman’s decision to have eye surgery?

The main protagonist John Lacroix is possibly the most bland literary character I’ve ever encountered. There’s nothing complex or compelling about him at all. Instead, all the most interesting p
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having recently gotten into Literary Fiction, I was intrigued to read one of distinguished writer Andrew Miller's books. So when this came up, I jumped at the chance. It didn't take long before I was transfixed by the luscious, poetic prose, it had me practically mesmerised and soon I was wholly invested in the story. As a massive fan of Haruki Murakami, the intricate descriptions are very much something I enjoy, so, naturally, I absolutely fell in love with this book. Essentially, the novel exp ...more
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
There are some books that do everything for you while you’re reading them. The experience is a giddy rush. Then there are others that have to seed and grow over the longer term, and are richer for it. Now We Shall Be Entirely Free falls in the latter category. It’s a beautiful, humane novel, expertly crafted. There is nothing flashy or showy or new about it; it sits very squarely in the tradition of linear, historically well situated fiction. It’s beautifully written. While being incredibly seri ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A curious and compelling story, that questions how people are to navigate through turbulent emotions following a traumatic experiences, grief and self reproach - to then find a sense of direction in their lives.

Following Captain John Lacroix, who managed to survive the British army’s horrendous retreat through Spain whilst battling Napoleon, the reader quickly discovers his desire to run from his past. So he travels to the Hebrides in Northern Scotland, but little does he know that the Army have
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have ambivalent feelings about historical fiction. In some ways, ironically, it is the quickest of all fiction to become dated – I suppose because it is the judgement of one era on another, and says as much about the era that produced it as the era that it is recreating in its own image. At least historical fiction doesn’t have the haircut problem that historical television invariably suffers from.

When I read the opening chapter of this book, however, I was convinced – not so much by the histo
Michael Cayley
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
A flawed historical novel set in 1809, after Sir John Moore’s disastrous campaign in Spain leading to the retreat to Corunna, during which a group of out-of-control soldiers put a village to the torch, kill the men they find, and rape the women. An officer, John Lacroix, haunted by war memories, returns home very ill to be nursed by the housekeeper. He then goes on a journey to a remote Scottish island where he stays with a small group of English people who are members of some strange and never ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written historical thriller, full of unexpected heart and love.
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
An unknown man is carried to a house in Somerset in a storm – a suitably moody opening for this historical novel by Andrew Miller. Set in 1809 the instigator of events is the Peninsular War (which, I have to admit, I knew little or nothing about so this was a good educational experience to go off and research this pretty bleak moment of British military history).

The man is John Lacroix, and he is a haunted man, a broken man. Tended by his old housekeeper he gains enough strength to move on, via
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Pure when it won the Costa and loved it - when I first saw this it didn’t appeal at all - a military man trying to find himself after a war, not really my bag. But shiiiiiiit this is good. Andrew Miller is a fantastic storyteller, oh my goodness. An eerie cat-and-mouse thriller too. Highly recommend if you want to get lost in a good (really f***ing good) story.
Always Pink
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018_top5
Miller spins us a lovely yarn here – utterly romantic, suspenseful on several levels, and peopled with characters one quickly comes to care for. (Well, not so much for the villain, of course).
Bucks, Books & Beyond
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found myself enjoying this book far more than I thought I would. The authors writing style is almost poetic and paints such deliciously descriptive scenery in the readers imagination.

I don’t myself know much about this period in history, but war is war, no matter what century it takes place in. The way the author describes the emotions of Lacroix upon his return are ones I imagine anyone returning from the battlefield would feel.

The author builds Lacroix’s character marvellously throughout t
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2019
A well written mixture of historical novel, adventure story and romance set during the Napoleonic wars, that may have been written with at least half an eye to a possible film adaptation.

The central character John Lacroix is a naive young gentleman cavalry officer who has just found his way home from the retreat that ended at Corunna. He is brought home barely alive, and scarred by what he has seen of his army's chaotic retreat and an atrocity he witnessed in a Spanish village. His regiment want
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now We Shall Be Entirely Free is an old-fashioned story filled with old-fashioned pleasures. No patriarchy is overthrown, no world is saved, no war is won. It's not so much that NWSBEF is uninterested in such things, after all, they form the backdrop of its action, but rather that it preoccupies itself with the (so far) immutable laws of the heart. Or to put it more plainly, it offers a classic romance set in Britain during the Penninsular War. It fears not to take its sheepish readers through t ...more
D Jackson
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Miller's writing takes you immediately back to the period and his description sometimes has me thinking of Thomas Hardy's style, although much shorter passages. The suspense of his plot begins at the opening and, although slower moving for a while, the reader is inevitably involved in the game of chase that ensues. Miller's characters are each quite different but strong in their own ways and the main character's sufferings and developing relationships heightened my involvement.
During my reading
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John Lacroix returns from war a shell of the person he once was. Nursed back to health by his housekeeper, he is tracked down by an old colleague with the news that he is expected to return to service. Not yet ready to face his demons, John sets off on a trip to the Hebrides hoping to heal his psychological wounds. He is pursued by two men, Medina and Calley. Once in the Hebrides John is offered safe haven by the Fender sisters and finds love.

I requested this book from netgalley as something tha
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
John Lacroix is delivered to his family home wounded and barely conscious, to be nursed back to health by his housekeeper. Now John is a different man struggling to come to terms with what he has seen and done in the Peninsular war, so he decides to travel to the highlands of Scotland to try to escape the hellish memories, but on his trail are an English Corporal and a Spanish Cavalry officer with orders to kill...
A beautifully written Historical fiction that will have you on the edge of your se
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it

If you're not a fan of long, meandering, deep character dives where not much happens by way of plot, then this book is probably not for you. If you are, then this is the sweet spot of the trifecta of richly detailed, slowly-plotted stories that really sit with their characters. It felt dreamy and not quite real, but also sad and miserable. The characters were great. The setting was atmospheric. It was beautifully written. I have a lot of questions about the end though. But for now, I
Liberty Angris
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5) This book is the hardest I’ve had to rate in a long time- the first half, whilst descriptive and flowed well, the narrative didn’t pull me in. I found myself enjoying it whilst I was reading it, but when I put it down, I wasn’t in a rush to start again. Then as the plot developed, and more characters were introduced, I began to enjoy it more, and really enjoyed the last third of the book as it began to pick up pace. Not one I’d read again, but would recommend.
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
An injured soldier is brought home from the campaign against Napoleon in Spain. He's reluctant to talk about what happened but is clearly haunted by his time abroad. Once recovered, he decides he won't return to the army and heads up to the Scottish islands to explore his interest in folk music. Unbeknownst to him, though, there are people on his trail. The language in this was beautiful and the story moved along at a slow and steady pace, all of which draws you in to the story.
Emily Cowan
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
This started off strong and was so promising but I lost more and more interest as the story went on. The writing was actually lovely! The story just didn't grip me for very long and the writing couldn't make up for that unfortunately. Felt like I never really understood any of the characters, even Lacroix. Perhaps I'll try another Andrew Miller as I did enjoy the writing.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you want to read an incredibly beautifully written book that will leave you mentally drained, search no longer - this is the book for you. Probably the best book I've read this year.
Gayle Parker
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first book by this author
Easy to read but creation of relationships at times sketchy
Descriptive and atmospheric writing about events and landscapes
Perhaps a 3.5?
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars
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Andrew Miller was born in Bristol in 1960. He has lived in Spain, Japan, Ireland and France, and currently lives in Somerset. His first novel, INGENIOUS PAIN, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour prize in Italy. His second novel, CASANOVA, was published in 1998, followed by OX ...more