Wednesday, 7 November 2012
I don't think that I wrote about Pure when I read it earlier this year, other than to say briefly how much I enjoyed it. I know I meant to, but life probably got in the way. And I'm not going to review it now because it's gone back to the library.
But it's probably the novel that I've enjoyed most out of all that I've read this year, so I grabbed the chance to hear Andrew Miller speaking this evening at a book festival that's almost on my doorstep.
The book is about the destruction of an ancient cemetery in the heart of Paris in the last days of the Ancien Régime and Miller's writing is so brilliant that you smell the putrefying stench that pervades the locality, penetrates homes, taints food and even makes the inhabitants' breath smell.
It was interesting to hear that, as a doctor's son, Miller's childhood reading included a stash of old BMJs and copies of The Lancet.
I can't think of any historical novel - other than Wolf Hall, which I've just finished reading for the second time - that has brought the past so vividly to life.
I was surprised when Miller said that so far it hasn't been published in France. Maybe the French think that it's their history and their territory ... but they're missing out.