Now We Shall Be Entirely Free: The 'magnificent' novel by the Costa-winning author of PURE
By Andrew Miller
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.Tweet
Although I quite enjoyed this book, I am not a fan of this type of writing - it is too ‘wordy’. The story which is set just after the Napoleonic Wars, started well, but what I thought was the whole point if the story, ie, the pursuit of the main character by his adversary, fell by the wayside and the book went on, to be replaced by not very interesting story lines.
Also, although I read the last paragraph three times, I still couldn’t decide if it was a happy ending or not.
This book seemed to be all about searching to me. An injured soldier sent home to England to recuperate is searching for his health both mental and physical. The time is that of the Napoleonic War. The experiences of the battles and of his troop's behavior during a major retreat haunt him. After his physical health is regained somewhat he decides to head off to Scotland in search of healing his soul. For reasons that were unclear to me someone of high status back in Spain wants him found and killed and sends two soldiers, one English and one Spanish, after him. Thus is given us another form of searching.
In Scotland our hero becomes involved with a free thinking brother and his two sisters who live on one of western isles of the Hebrides. Here life is simple and allows him to find some salvation from his troubled mind. Here his search brings him to find truth and honesty in his love for one of the sisters.
There are twists and turns and coincidences strewn throughout.
I found i enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first half so am glad i kept going.
Overall i thought the book was beautifully written with a blend of action, suspense, historical accuracy and sometimes almost a travelogue of both Scotland and Europe. Additionally the author's ability to describe innermost feelings and experiences were both intense and at times breathtakingly poetic.
The characters were utterly credible despite representing some fairly diverse lives and perspectives and judgement was left entirely to the reader
Definitely worth a read and possibly even a re-read to appreciate the elegant and thoughtful prose
This is a well written, albeit wordy, historically based tale. I found at times I got bogged down in the writing. In some parts perhaps a more severe edit wouldn't have hurt. Having said that, I thought the story line was interesting with lots of twists and turns. The setting feels intriguingly grimy and damp, given the times and the location - the Hebrides in the winter.
The characters are well developed and absorbing. I wasn't sure what the significance was of a couple of the key turning points in the story. Without giving the story away, the ending still has me thinking about what actually happened. Perhaps the author could have been clearer, although maybe it was his intention to let us draw our own conclusions.
The descriptions of the countryside were very real and authentic. There is mystery and intrigue and a bit of romance, too. I am not a fan of historic novels, but this one did keep me reading.
I thought this was a beautifully written novel which kept me engrossed from beginning to end. I engaged with all of the characters, but particularly the main character Captain John Lacroix. I found this a joy to read.
I am not a massive fan of historical fiction, so am probably not the best person to review this book. I found the story clunky, boring and long winded, and rather missed the point of it all. Apologies!
I found this historical novel to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. The prose captured my imagination, I could clearly visualise all the characters, the journeys they undertook and the places they travelled to.
Not too far into the story it became apparent that one of the pursuers had an underlying reason to bring the pursued to justice to cover up his own evil actions.
The ending left me feeling satisfied and happy.
The year is 1809 and John Lacroix returns to his home in Somerset after fighting against Napoleon’s forces in Spain. He has to be carried as he is barely conscious and is traumatized both mentally and physically by his experiences. After a long recovery period he receives the call back to his regiment. Instead, he heads for Scotland, travelling under a different name. It soon becomes apparent that he is being pursued and this is where the adventure begins. We follow John as he travels to the Hebrides in an attempt to outwit the men on his trail. The story is written from a dual perspective, with alternate chapters following John’s journey and that of his pursuers.
This is an extremely well written and very enjoyable novel. Miller writes beautiful, yet accessible prose which I find quite compelling. The book is also a great adventure story, reminiscent of many written by John Buchan. Apparently Miller set out to reproduce the kind of boy’s adventure story he enjoyed so much when he was a child – I think he has entirely succeeded in achieving this aim. The tension mounts as the pursuers begin to close in, culminating in a gripping climax. The characters that we meet along the way are all plausible (although not all are pleasant), and there is a smattering of eccentricity among the local characters which adds interest. Miller is also particularly good at evoking atmosphere within a given landscape. He is in his element in the Hebrides and I could picture the scenes vividly, but his descriptions of city life were equally convincing.
I heard Andrew Miller speak about this book at a Book Festival last year and I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. It sounded too lyrical and too esoteric for my tastes – how wrong can you be!! I am struggling to find anything to niggle about as I was captivated throughout.
I had only read one book by Andrew Miller before (Pure) and I really enjoyed it. This was a very different style of book but, despite the fact that I had high hopes for it, it surpassed all my expectations. If you enjoy a good adventure story that is very well written, do not miss out on this one.