Andrew Miller’s Pure was the 2011 Costa Book of the Year. Set a few years before the French Revolution of 1789, it tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Baratte, and engineer, who is given the job of removing the cemetery of Les Innocents from Paris. Removing it complete, as it has become a physical and psychical stain on the city.
It’s a wonderful premise set in a turbulent time. But there’s something not quite right with the book. On the PhD at Newcastle, we were recently given a seminar by the prose playwright and senior lecturer Margaret Wilkinson on structure and narrative pace, taught how to be better readers-as-writers.
Margaret’s lesson is that there should be a few essential elements in each novel: