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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: May 2012 ISBN: 9781611208160
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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.”

    Guardian

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

    Observer

  • “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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucy | 1/4/2014

    " Dark and grim but brilliantly atmospheric and moving. Highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Persephone Hazard | 1/4/2014

    " Okay, so, while I was reading this my life kind of exploded and so it took me a LONG time to finish it. I've been so busy I've barely read at all in the past, like, month :-( And somehow, this wasn't *quite* absorbing enough to make me want to pick it up in the midst of all the awfulness - it was good, certainly, and I liked the characters a lot and found the setting extremely interesting, but I do wish there had been something a little *more* to it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hilde Daman | 1/2/2014

    " Loved this book. It gives a good view of the period. You are transported into Paris of 1785.. the world is changing, When you visit Paris the area of Les Halles will never be the same. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brendan Paddy | 12/14/2013

    " An enjoyable romp through a series of mass graves in Paris on the cusp of the revolution. Also rape, suicide and a serious head injury. A nice take on enlightenment, patronage and being modern. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Prongs | 12/7/2013

    " Somewhat disappointed. Thought this was headed a much different way than what played out. So much unearthed potential. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Esther | 11/27/2013

    " Strangely lacking any dramatic tension despite the dramatic subject matter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex Roddie | 9/30/2013

    " A macabre but sensuous exploration of Paris in 1785--a story of bones, dirt, cobwebs, and mortality. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Hatley | 9/29/2013

    " This is a remarkable book, fiction, set in 18th century Paris, an usual story with a background of historical fact. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason Linden | 8/12/2013

    " Very nicely constructed historical fiction. Could have done with a little more character development early on, but a great finish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ginni | 4/13/2013

    " Better than a 3, not quite as good as a 4 in my book. I must admit that I could not put it down, though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Santosh Shevade | 4/13/2013

    " many parts of the book were lucidly narrated, the characters well defined but the plot never leads anywhere and the ending is almost an anticlimax.... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Liz | 3/25/2013

    " OMG boring. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Caramac | 2/17/2013

    " Interesting story but it didn't have great flow or use of language. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maureen | 11/16/2012

    " It's a good book. Well written. Really unique setting and situation-moreso that it's based on a real situation. Great detail of the place, costume, and period right before the French revolution. I just felt the author might have taken the story further. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vmacd | 10/22/2012

    " very stilted language got in the way of enjoying this book. did not vet the ending at all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara Falkiner | 10/8/2012

    " I absolutely loved this and cannot believe the few readers who did not. Each to his own, but this man is very clever, insightful & human. Wonderful, thrilling book I could not put it down. It is SOOO good. Will definitely read his other books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tasmin | 8/23/2012

    " Very good book - unusual but a great read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Helen Watts | 8/13/2012

    " One of the most unusual but enticing books I have read in a long time. Loved it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sally | 7/5/2012

    " Very disappointing considering the rave reviews quoted on the book's cover. I don't think I even finished it, so little did I care for the characters or their fate. "

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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.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. In 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for his narration of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.