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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,881 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Andrew Miller Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Jean-Baptiste Baratte, an engineer of modest origin, arrives in Paris in 1785, charged by the King’s minister with emptying the overflowing cemetery of Les Innocents, an ancient site whose stench is poisoning the neighborhood’s air and water and leaving a vile taste in its inhabitants’ food.

At first the ambitious Baratte sees his work as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long he begins to suspect the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to both his own demise and that of the monarchy.

Baratte expects the task to be unpleasant but cannot foresee the dramas and calamities it will trigger, or the incident that will transform his life. As unrest against the court of Louis XVI mounts, the engineer realizes that the future he had planned may no longer be the one he wants. His assignment becomes a year of relentless work, exhuming of mummified corpses and listening to the chants of priests, a year of assault and sudden death. A year of friendship, too, and of desire and love. A year unlike any other he has lived.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Pure defies the ordinary conventions of storytelling, slipping dream-like between lucidity and a kind of abstracted elusiveness…As Miller proves with this dazzling novel, it is not certainty we need but courage.”


  • “Enthralling…Superbly researched, brilliantly narrated and movingly resolved.”


  • “Almost dreamlike, a realistic fantasy, a violent fairytale for adults.”

    Irish Times

  • A 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Finalist
  • A 2012 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2011 Costa Award for Best Book of the Year
  • A 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nick Fletcher | 2/15/2014

    " Accomplished, unusual, arresting and well written. An impressive and confident work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Travis | 2/13/2014

    " This is a book that took me a while to slog through, but when I finally did, I really liked its messages. Part of the trouble was that it felt like a translation -- it was definitely originally written in English, though -- because of some weirdness in the language (a flatness, maybe?). But overall, the story of how an engineer and his colleagues -- miners, an organist, a sexton, and others -- dismantles the cemetery of Les Innocents is oddly inspiring (and a little bit of a nail-biter). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Cait | 1/29/2014

    " This was an interesting concept. I especially appreciated the attention to the changes in France's society, on the cusp of the Revolution. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Dave Morris | 1/6/2014

    " I was just about to give into the dictum of "Whenever you're tempted to read a new book, read an old one instead" and then (relatively) new writer Andrew Miller comes along and delivers a masterpiece. "

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About the Author

Andrew Miller’s first novel, Ingenious Pain, won the James Tate Memorial Prize for Fiction. He has since written five novels including Casanova and Oxygen, which was a finalist for the Whitbread Award and the Booker Prize in 2001. He lives in Somerset England.