When Your Ancestors Did Not Marry
The Effacement of La Grande Armée

Summer Reading - Pure

Pure
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A bit of historical fiction to help spice up the hard slog of research can never go amiss. We have been spending many weeks researching a French family in eighteenth century Paris and elsewhere. We have been immersed in the world of the last two Louis, so it seemed in keeping with our work to read Pure, by Andrew Miller, for pleasure. 
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Pure tells of a Norman engineer in Paris, given the unsavoury job of closing an overfull cemetery and knocking down the church beside it. The Cimetière des Innocents has burst its seams with decomposing corpses in the open and the king has ordered it cleared. That much is historical fact. There is a story full of titillation: violence, a possible ghost, attempted murder, visits from Dr. Guillotin, suicide, rape, affectionate whores, and a big fire. That much is fiction.
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Miller tells his tale with a charm of phrase that brings new imagery. There are sentences that make one stop and reread a few times, just for the loveliness of contrasting visions. His voice is modern but he conjures up the air -- in this case the stench -- of the French past just at the moment when its rotting society is about to burst with Revolution.
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Good writing. Recommended.
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©2012 Anne Morddel
French Genealogy

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