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Now We Shall Be Entirely Free: The 'magnificent' novel by the Costa-winning author of PURE Hardcover – 23 Aug 2018
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Scary, mysterious and thoughtful - the world of Jane Austen bespattered by mud, atrocity and driving rain. - New Statesman A propulsive, beautifully written investigation into atrocity, guilt and new beginnings. - Guardian Now We Shall Be Entirely Free, a high grade cat-and-mouse manhunt that covers the length of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars - a sort of The 39 Steps with added malice - is pitch-perfect. - New Statesman The plot grips and surprises. Miller's prose remains poetic and taut with an eye for the telling detail . . . he excels at creating characters who are defined, not limited, by a specific time and place, not just Lacroix, Calley and Medina but the minor players too. Historical or otherwise, this is fiction - storytelling - at its best. - Spectator Excellent ... a novel of delicately shifting moods, a pastoral comedy and passionate romance story alternating with a blackly menacing thriller. It is also a book of ideas: about male violence, the impact of war and the price of freedom. - Observer A profound exploration of culpability, written in prose that comes singing off the page . . . a compelling read and an important literary achievement. - New Statesman Enthralling . . . Miller paints a richly detailed portrait of a society in some ways familiar, in others impossibly strange - Financial Times I much enjoyed Now We Shall Be Entirely Free, in which Andrew Miller returned to more orthodox historical fiction after 2015's The Crossing and triumphantly proved there's plenty of life in the old form yet. - Spectator
By the Costa Award-winning author of PURE, a stunning historical novel - the tale of a traumatised soldier on a journey in search of peace, which turns into a nail-biting hunt to the death.See all Product description
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The reader is dropped into the period and left to find her bearings. She must look sharply to locate time and place and circumstance. She has to find her compass. In another sense, a moral sense, so does the main character, John Lacroix, a British soldier. Justice or revenge is pursuing him.
The action moves from Spain to the Hebrides. The device of a journey allows the author to explore a changing world – the brutalities of early industrialism, despoiled agriculture and millenarian sects. Everywhere there is the impact of the Napoleonic wars. Andrew Miller has clearly researched the period – not just the detail but the atmosphere.
Obviously the author worked out the plot in detail, but it does not feel like that – in a good way. Until the final page it seemed any number of endings were possible, that his characters still had chances and choices. It was very like his earlier novel set in Japan, One Morning a Bird.
The author has revealed that the plot is derived in part from a terrible incident during the Vietnam War, the massacre at My Lai in 1967. Indeed three of his characters take their names from American soldiers involved – Lacroix, Medina and especially Calley. This raises questions – this war, that war or all wars?
The theme of returning soldier is not new, rather as old as literature. Here it works entirely well.
We have the peninsular war atrocities in Spain, Somerset, and music and peace in the Scottish islands - and then in a dual and converging narrative, an approaching nemesis that keeps us biting our nails until the very last line. What an ending!
I have read all of Miller's novels and although I have enjoyed them I hugely prefer his historical ones as he has the brilliant ability to immerse you in the atmosphere of the time including the sights, smells, sounds and even on occasion the danger, grime and discomfort....
He really is a gifted writer and I wish that he was more prolific...