All Things Rank and Foul–Spotlight on Andrew Miller’s “Pure”

Andrew Miller’s “Pure” was up for this year’s Booker Prize but lost out to Julian Barnes’s novel “The Sense of an Ending.”  What were the judges thinking?!

My spotlight book is “Pure” because it is rank, foul, and so beautiful.

In the novel, Jean-Baptiste Barrate has been given the enormous task of clearing out the les Innocents cemetery in Paris.  The year is 1785.  The breaths of those he lodges with smell of decay, much like the cemetery.  Miller is skillful with metaphor.  The rankness of the cemetery symbolizes the foulness of the entire country at the time.  France needs a good cleaning, and is not long before it gets just that.

There is a wonderful Gothic feel to this novel.  It definitely deserves attention here in the US.


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