Now We Shall Be Entirely Free
* WINNER OF THE HIGHLAND BOOK PRIZE *
* SHORTLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE *
The rapturously acclaimed new novel by the Costa Award-winning author of PURE, hailed as ‘excellent’, ‘gripping’, ‘as suspenseful as any thriller’, ‘engrossing’, ‘moving’ and ‘magnificent’.
One rainswept winter’s night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain’s disastrous campaign against Napoleon’s forces in Spain.
Gradually Lacroix recovers his health, but not his peace of mind. He will not – cannot – talk about the war or face the memory of what took place on the retreat to Corunna. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he lights out instead for the Hebrides, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army: a vicious English corporal and a Spanish officer with secret orders are on his trail.
In luminous prose, Miller portrays a man shattered by what he has witnessed, on a journey that leads to unexpected friendships, even to love. But as the short northern summer reaches its zenith, the shadow of the enemy is creeping closer. Freedom, for John Lacroix, will come at a high price. Taut with suspense, this is an enthralling, deeply involving novel by one of Britain’s most acclaimed writers.
‘His writing suspends life until it is read and is a source of wonder and delight’ Hilary Mantel on Casanova in the Sunday Times
He is a very stylish, almost painterly writer, and he has Hilary Mantel's gift for historical reconstruction, for describing the past without making it seem like a wax museum. In some of his best books - like Ingenious Pain, his first, about an 18th-century doctor, and the more recent Pure, about an engineer in pre-revolutionary France trying to clean up an ancient cemetery - he brings off the Mantel trick of plunging you so deeply into the past that before long you take it completely for granted . . . A subtheme of this novel, where one of the main characters can't see and the other can't hear, is unknowability, how hard it is to make sense of the world . . . In its formal slipperiness, first one kind of book, then another, Now We Shall Be Entirely Free seems to be making the same point: that things are never quite what you expect, and history is altogether stranger than most accounts suggest. What makes Miller's own account so riveting is its alertness to wonder and unpredictability. -- Charles McGrath * New York Times Book Review * A layered, riveting novel from a skilled storyteller -- Summer Reads * The Times * A beautifully observed historical thriller ... With writing that's elegiac and enthralling, this is a chase story with a wry edge and a romantic heart. * AnOther Magazine * The sort of novel I always long for and rarely find. Anything Andrew Miller writes, I will read, and Now We Shall Be Entirely Free is an absolute masterclass: observant, generous, beautiful prose, with a thrillingly plotted tale at its heart. Proof if any were needed that truly literary fiction can make for compulsive, suspenseful and joyous reading. -- Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock Extraordinary; his writing seems to discover, or perhaps creates, additional dimensions to the world, and in the reader. -- Sarah Hall One of 2018's finest historical novels ... successfully combines elements of old-fashioned adventure story with a moving study of a man in search of personal redemption. -- Nick Rennison, Books of the Year * BBC History Magazine * By the end of the opening sentence of Andrew Miller's new novel, we're already knee-deep in fictional territory he has made his own. . . . . Miller has an extraordinary gift for conjuring actuality from the past. -- Michael Bird * Daily Telegraph * Brilliant . . . The narrative is framed by beautiful writing and driven by guilt at what men are driven to in extremis. Spectacular. -- Paul Connolly * Metro * This exceptional novel is hypnotically immersive, as though the reader has been genuinely transported to an era when time moved more slowly and life was more dense and extraordinarily vivid. -- Jane Thynne * The Tablet * A novel that would not feel out of place in the collected work of Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott or, indeed, alongside William Golding's To the Ends of the Earth trilogy. ...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. The former is an often-forgotten art form in the contemporary novel, which often seeks to impress rather than entertain, but the latter is what makes him one of the most impressive novelists at work today. -- John Boyne * Irish Times * Andrew Miller can spin a ripping yarn with the skill and assurance of a master and the winner of the 2011 Costa Book of the Year for Pure is at the top of his game with Now We Shall Be Entirely Free . . . He fills his novel with vividly etched characters and has a way with words that delights, surprises and enthrals. There is never a dull sentence or commonplace description' -- Allan Hunter * Sunday Express * The tension is so finely balanced between hunter and hunted that the alternating chapters ultimately form one beautifully integrated whole, whilst the historical setting is perfectly realised . . . a magnificent novel.' -- Eilis O'Hanlon * Irish Independent * Miller's beautiful sentences are a joy to read and his engrossing novel, teeming with vivid historical detail, is as suspenseful as any thriller. -- Neil Armstrong * Mail on Sunday * Since the publication in 1997 of his first novel ... his books have revealed a powerful imagination at work, and one that is also rooted in the precisely yet poetically described realities of daily life. ... In his new novel, he succeeds in creating an involving, suspenseful drama and a moving portrait of a man in search of redemption from the violence of his past. -- Nick Rennison * Sunday Times * Miller recreates the past so vividly that reading the novel is never less than a fully immersive experience . . . particularly enjoyable and satisfying. -- James Walton * The Times * In his luminous prose, Costa Prize winner Andrew Miller conjures three very different men, but their experiences have all been traumatising. Manhunt and pilgrimage, the tale unfolds into a gripping and, ultimately, surprising exploration of the inner battleground. -- Elizabeth Buchan * Daily Mail * Both a ripping yarn and a skilful mediation on absence ... The pacing of his story is excellent; his style is crisp; his apprehension of pain is arresting; and his ability to show people trembling at the edge of unreason is compelling. -- Andrew Motion * Guardian * 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. -- James Walton * Spectator, Books of the Year * Enthralling . . . Miller paints a richly detailed portrait of a society in some ways familiar, in others impossibly strange -- Suzi Feay * Financial Times * A profound exploration of culpability, written in prose that comes singing off the page . . . a compelling read and an important literary achievement. -- Fiona Sampson * New Statesman * 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. -- Johanna Thomas-Corr * Observer * 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. -- Andy Miller * Spectator * 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. -- Michael Prodger, Books of the Year * New Statesman * A propulsive, beautifully written investigation into atrocity, guilt and new beginnings. -- Justine Jordan, Books of the Year * Guardian * Scary, mysterious and thoughtful - the world of Jane Austen bespattered by mud, atrocity and driving rain. -- Andrew Marr, Books of the Year * New Statesman *
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