Hopeless Bibliophile: "PURE is packed to the brim with metaphor and symbolism."
Date: May 22 2015
This is the third book I've read off of my "Genre Novels That Should Be Classics" reading list in a quest to expand my book choices beyond my normal comfort zone. I'm not a big historical fiction reader. Sometimes it makes appearances in my Fantasy or Science Fiction picks, but I never avidly seek it out. That's why I chose to listen to the audio of Pure. Jonathan Aris came highly recommended as a narrator, and I hoped he'd help me immerse myself in Paris circa 1785.
Jean-Baptiste Baratte was an intriguing character. A young man, an engineer, with visions of grand projects flitting across his mind. Imagine his surprise when the first job that he is tasked with, is the destruction of Les Innocents cemetery and its church. I was pulled in by this thought. If this is the only job offered, and you need the work, does it matter that you'll be destroying a piece of history? Unearthing the loved ones of others? Watching Jean-Baptiste struggle with this, following along as he fought his own inner demons, fascinated me.
What was tough for me, were the layers this book contains. Pure is packed to the brim with metaphor and symbolism. It may have been easier for me to soak that all in if I had been reading printed words. Perhaps. Despite Jonathan Aris' excellent narration, I still lost myself at certain points. Jean-Baptiste's thoughts would reach a point where they were so dense, so scattered, that I'd find myself struggling to pay attention. There were high points, and low points, but the ending threw me completely off. I listened to it again, just to make sure I didn't miss something important. I'm still confused.
For a very vividly written Paris backdrop, and a character that I enjoyed, I'll give this a two-star rating. The extra star is for Jonathan Aris' wonderful narration. If you have the opportunity to listen to this on audio, I'd say go for it! My quest continues on!