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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The author has revealed that the plot is derived in part from a terrible incident during the Vietnam War, the massacre at My Lai in 1967. Manhunt and pilgrimage, the tale unfolds into a gripping and, ultimately, surprising exploration of the inner battleground. Add in an interesting excursion into the development of surgery and hygiene, and, (my personal highlight) a mention of Mingulay, a place filled for me with happy memories of fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills and puffins, oh, and some people too, although the island was abandoned in 1912. As they play guitars, take laudanum and drag their mattresses outside, the story looks like it might become a cross between The Wicker Man and a 19th-century stoner comedy. This was the tall one, this the sleek, this the bare, this like something made more entirely from light and water.

There were a couple of twists in the plot that I did not expect, and that is always good…it’s not good if the overall plot and ending is predictable in a novel of 410 pages. But until the end much of the cat-and-mouse suspense in “Now We Shall Be Entirely Free” is unwound and undercut — deliberately, it would seem — by the plot’s way of going off on tangents and detours. The yellow and the white, the gold and the red, so that he seemed to be looking across a field of small lights afloat on the shallow water of morning shadow.

Much of the book alternates, in thriller-like fashion, between these hunters and their fugitive, who a couple of times unknowingly come within inches of one another. 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. Hopefully when he promotes the latest novel, the chance will arise to ask Andrew Miller about the Frend love triangle, and my suspicions about Thorpe’s death. I still eye the Booker list, of course, but I am increasingly interested in the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, for one, which plays more predictably to my own preference for both good scene setting (yay, exposition! 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 .

The journey north gives Miller a chance to add some authenticating historical detail, most of which he does well, in a dry but observant style. Now We Shall Be Entirely Free is a novel of delicately shifting moods, a pastoral comedy and passionate romance story alternating with a blackly menacing thriller. With writing that's elegiac and enthralling, this is a chase story with a wry edge and a romantic heart.It is difficult not to draw the parallels with the Booker longlisted – Washington Black but this book could not be more different –a grounded, sail-powered, classical boys adventure with a simple and linear storyline rather than a fantastical, steam punk exploration of ideas. There are some tense and frustrating moments in the book, but then the tension faded and the story started to waver as it approached its climax.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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