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Now We Shall Be Entirely Free: The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2019

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Ultimately, this is a book about the horrors of war, and what it does to the humans who are involved in it. With lyrical writing and a perfectly paced plot, the tension of the impending confrontation mounts whilst allowing the reader to become attached to the main characters. There might have been a couple of places that my interest was flagging but it was a page each at best–so not an issue! Following Captain John Lacroix, who managed to survive the British army’s horrendous retreat through Spain whilst battling Napoleon, the reader quickly discovers his desire to run from his past.

Eventually he arrives at a remote island in the Hebrides where he is given shelter by the Frend family, comprising Emily, her sister Jane, and their brother Cornelius. Or does the contemporary feel bring home to the reader that emotions and morals, and the gruesomeness of hand to hand war combat haven’t changed much during the time? 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. At the same time a pyschopathic English corporal and a refined Spanish cavalry officer are sent from Lisbon to wreak justice on Lacroix in penance for a British Army atrocity.He remembers 9-year-old Lizzie Bentley, from Southwark, who one day caught her hand in a belt and had her arm ripped off at the shoulder.

The device of a journey allows the author to explore a changing world – the brutalities of early industrialism, despoiled agriculture and millenarian sects.Now We Shall Be Entirely Free is the first book I’ve read by Andrew Miller and I can now understand why his writing has been the subject of so much praise. Andrew Miller’s new novel combines these two ideas and it initially seems a travesty that Edugyan’s book sits on the Man Booker list and Miller’s has been passed over. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian View image in fullscreen ‘Eyes open, heart open, feet on the ground’: Andrew Miller.

No ancient and honourable institution is without its ancient and honourable crimes,” observes a shadowy superior.

It is a four-square adventure story, with an intrepid male hero, a supporting cast of women who are either meekly servile or scrabbling rather prettily at the bars of convention, landscapes that are rugged but essentially benevolent, and a villain who – although allowed some reason for being so – is a real bastard. Peace and quiet are conveyed by Nell's calm , sure ministering of John betraying however John's inner turmoil over guilt and post trauma of war. They were beautiful–more so than he had prepared himself for, and it comforted him a little that he had had the sense to find them, the world’s scattered edge, that there was in him, perhaps, some trace of a wisdom that could guide his actions. Comments that contribute civilly and constructively to discussion of the topics raised on this blog, from any point of view, are welcome. John soon finds himself enthralled by this forthright, complex woman and, when they travel to Glasgow for a high-risk eye operation, the air is thick with both sexual tension and carbolic acid.

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