Pure

by Andrew Miller

Pure

Paperback, 331 pages, Europa Editions, List Price: $17 | purchase

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Book Summary

Engineer Jean-Baptiste Baratte is tasked with emptying an overflowing cemetery in Paris in 1785, work he considers noble until he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery parallels his own fate and the demise of social order.

NPR stories about Pure

Critics' Lists: Summer 2012

Rich Reads: Historical Fiction Fit For A Queen

In 1785, before there were Superfund sites, there was Les Innocents, a decomposing mass-grave cemetery poisoning Paris. Its toxins were so bad that the attached church had to be shut down, and the whole neighborhood smelled like death. Into this disaster steps the hero of Andrew Miller's brilliant Pure, a humble engineer named Jean-Baptiste Baratte sent by Versailles to mop up. Along with exhuming generations of corpses, he must contend with various sinister forces: an unstable

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