Now We Shall Be Entirely Free: The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2019

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Now We Shall Be Entirely Free: The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2019

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free: The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2019

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When I read the opening chapter of this book, however, I was convinced – not so much by the historical details, which are applied sparingly but to good effect, but by the combination of precise and uncluttered visuals, human sympathy and language that can be delicate or blunt or visceral as required, but always beautifully modulated.

That section of The New Yorker is something I reliably go to for very issue…because I value their recommendations. Peace and quiet are conveyed by Nell's calm , sure ministering of John betraying however John's inner turmoil over guilt and post trauma of war. I don't read a whole lot of historical fiction, but something about the plot description of this one really appealed to me, and I'm so glad I got to read this memorable story. I have already purchased his previous books which will take pride of place on my favourite bookshelf. Miller hat einen ganz wunderbaren Historischen Roman geschrieben, der vor allem durch seine kunstvoll gesetzten Auslassungen, Leerstellen, Perspektiv-, Orts- und Zeitwechsel besticht und den Leser in eine nicht nachlassende Grundspannung versetzt.

Now 58, he has been publishing confident, controlled fiction for more than 20 years; whether he alights on 18th-century Paris or 1990s Los Angeles, his novels are always suffused with wit, grit and melancholy wisdom. Once an army was in retreat, humiliated, starving, and no longer with any meaningful leadership, some men lost all their humanity and decency.

I purchased this novel just after it had been published and for reasons unknown it was left on the shelf for too long! Miller anchors the action in precise, convincing detail: soldiers live by Le Marchant’s Rules and Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry; intellectuals debate the geologist James Hutton and the music of Joseph Haydn. It's a twist too far, and of all the climaxes and endings available to Andrew Miller I'm perplexed as to why he chose to do that.I have never studied the Napoleonic wars, and especially the Spanish campaign and the peninsular wars.

From its first sentence it grabs the reader's attention, and it never lets go - the narrative is a gripping, propulsive, thrilling ride. All the book’s perceptions are deftly given to his characters, with the double result that the observations feel peculiarly intimate, and the characters themselves come vividly to life. It was as if his secrets had altered in the keeping, had grown like living things, so that he did not quite know them any more. Through his hyper-real evocation of the times and places he chooses, he invites us in to join these experiments. Having been raised in a foundlings’ gulag in London in which the children were given dangerous work and little food, he is a runtish, emotionally deadened character who nevertheless feels loyalty to the army, his adopted parent.Miller also intentionally or unintentionally repurposes the My Lai massacre as part of his historical fantasy, even incorporating the names of three court martialed US Army officers. If you have ever been to any of the islands you'll know what I mean when I say it's impossible not to be affected by the beauty all around. There are some fanciful touches–I liked the description of the two pursuing soldiers walking in the woods with “the war spooling from their backs like silk,” for example. And once more it came to him, the thought that had touched him several times since coming back from Spain, that we are not private beings and cannot hide things inside ourselves. Now We Shall Be Entirely Free is a historical novel, a love story, an adventure yarn to rival the best, and a suspenseful thriller that kept me, many times, quickly turning the pages.

Writing this review, I looked back over my previous reviews of Miller’s novels, and I was interested to see how ambivalent I had been right down the path. The thriller nonsense that unspools from this plotline is relatively engaging, but I’m not sure this element of suspense was entirely necessary to keep me reading.John meets a whole host of memorable characters on the way - my particular favourites were the residents of the Hebrides. The joy of reading an Andrew Miller novel is his obvious passion for story and sensual language, and his ability to interweave the two seamlessly. On one level it is impressive to have a book which makes no attempt at post-modernism (other than using the names of those in the My Lai massacre for some of the characters), at allegory, or at drawing parallels with modern events (any hint of Brexit in the British retreat from Europe is purely accidental) – however, in my view, this robs historical fiction of much of its interest for me. The newly built Glasgow Royal Infirmary is the centre of a storyline for pioneering treatment of glaucoma.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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