By Andrew Miller
Abridged by Jeremy Osborne
Read by John Sessions.
It's Paris in 1785. The cemetery of Les Innocents is the oldest in the city, but it is overflowing and can no longer hold on to its dead. Newcomers to the quarter are overpowered by the smell. It taints the breath and food of the locals. And some believe it can even taint the mind.
By order of the King, the church and cemetery are to be destroyed and every last bone rehoused. The place is to be made sweet again. It shall be made pure.
Charged with the task, Jean-Baptiste Baratte - a young engineer from Normandy - arrives in Paris. And thus begins "A year of bones, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of ... chanting priests. A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love...A year unlike any other he has lived."
Episode 1 of 10: A young engineer from Normandy waits in an anteroom in the Palace of Versailles for a meeting with the minister.
Andrew Miller was born in Bristol. He studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 1991 and finished a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing at Lancaster University in 1995. He lives in Somerset.
His first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published in 1997 and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction). His third, Oxygen (2001), was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel Award. One Morning Like A Bird (2008) was also produced by Sweet Talk for Book At Bedtime on BBC Radio 4.
Pure is Andrew Miller's sixth novel and won the Costa Book Of The Year award in 2011.
Produced by Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4.