• Now We Shall Be Entirely Free

  • The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2019
  • By: Andrew Miller
  • Narrated by: Joe Jameson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

By the Costa Award-winning author of Pure, a stunning historical novel with the grip of a thriller, written in richly evocative, luminous prose. 

One rain-swept February 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 cannot talk about the war or face the memory of what happened in a village on the gruelling retreat to Corunna. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he sets out instead for the Hebrides, with the vague intent of reviving his musical interests and collecting local folk songs. 

Lacroix sails north incognito, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army: a vicious English corporal and a Spanish officer are on his trail, with orders to kill. The haven he finds on a remote island with a family of freethinkers and the sister he falls for are not safe at all.

©2018 Andrew Miller (P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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  • movie moghul
  • 09-08-18

patchy and contrived.

I always look forward to a new Andrew Miller novel, but this one is really weak, particularly the ending which just comes out of the blue for no relevant reason.,It’s as if the author just ran out of ideas. The book commences with an intriguing idea. The officer held responsible for a British Mai Lai style massacre in Spain during the peninsula wars against Napoleon, must be found and killed. It’s a matter of honour. There are some gripping chapters but they’re few and far between. The story is just too predictable with few surprises. Some judicious editing could have improved the flow, by losing several,contrived and irrelevant chapters. But in the end the real issue is the one dimensional portrayal of the characters. there’s just not enough to make you care about them, coupled with padded out over descriptive situations which appear very clumsy on an audio book. This is not an Andrew Miller book i would recommend to a novice.

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  • CarolynK
  • 04-19-19

A superlative experience

Normal life must be put on hold until you have finished listening to this extraordinary book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • S. Jonas
  • 09-12-18

Tedious

I’m sure someone will enjoy this, but not me. Despite being booker listed, and being recommended, this was slow and turgid. I like historical fiction, but this felt really exposition heavy and I didn’t care about the characters enough to stick with it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Steven
  • 04-18-22

Something missing

For the plot, see other people's reviews.

Good points - very clear descriptions of life in the Napoleonic era and a strong sense of place and time. A good story.

The disappointments: there was more of an opportunity for Lacroix and Cally to go on a developmental as well as physical journey here. Lacroix hardly ever reflects on the incident in Morales. The author saves up his description as a 'big reveal' when he confesses it to Emily. In my view, this was a mistake. If this was really the event which broke him, then it should have been something he came back to periodically and processed until he fully understood it. How did the behaviour of those soldiers affect his view of war, man's treatment of man, how will it shape his future, rather than just wanting to run away from it? Yes, of course, he falls in love with Emily but there is no relationship between his falling in love (or allowing himself to do so) and his experience of the war. Cally, by the end, becomes a cardboard cut-out baddy. Could being with another decent human being for an extended period of relative freedom for probably the first time in his life not have begun to make him question his approach to life, the awful childhood that shaped him, his attitude to his mission? Would a better end not have been one in which he was less sure of the 'right' of his mission, more filled with doubt, more human? Would it not have been more affecting for the reader to see Cally die just as he was on the verge of becoming a better person, or at least trying to be? There is too much emphasis on description of the scenes and what people are doing, and too little character development; a huge opportunity missed.

The ending was very disappointing. I know why authors like to leave a book open ended but - character development again - where have these people arrived at emotionally? Had they boarded the immigration ship and Emily delivered that last predictable line, it would have made sense but it didn't make sense in the context of the actual ending - they were actually entirely in a bloody mess which she had suffered so much so recently to avoid and which he had been running away from and had achieved a victory over just hours before. They had also just cemented a relationship and a future of hope and potential happiness together. This was not a moment where such a declaration seemed at all apt.

The narration: probably a bit too much 'acting' and not enough 'narrating' for me. He's great at doing lots of voices but then these intrude on the enjoyment too as you start to notice the common traits - the women all speak the same way with an upwards inflection at the end of every sentence and a shocked catch of the breath which just started to make me laugh every time I heard it. Narration is a different skill.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-09-20

superb book (not so good reading)

this is an excellent novel - atmospheric, surprising, intelligent. let down slightly by the reading where the voice of the main character is unconvincing and grates.

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  • Cristina Carvalho Lier Laursen
  • 06-28-20

Very clichê

The book is full of cliches, plot flows, poor structure and too long ... incredibly disappointing

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  • AM
  • 12-20-19

An Agony of Tedium

Maundering, melancholic, plotless, pointless droning from a half deaf narrator, meaning that he asked everyone who spoke to repeat themselves. The whole text is peppered with pointless questions ("I heard something, or did I, or was it more a movement than a sound, or perhaps a memory?") and dreary descriptions of nothing. Humourless, empty characters, endless wrong turns so that the reader meets a person or place in great detail though it/she/he never reappears. Just a frustrating, painful attempt at being literary, completely misunderstanding that the greatest literature is gripping and packed full of wonderful characters. Have rarely been as bored or as irritated by anything. Empty and desperate. Sold as a great historical novel but contained pretty much no evocation of time or place.

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  • Stephanie
  • 10-05-19

what happened in the end?

loved this story and the narration was great. very unusual settings. the eye hospital.bit dragged a bit, but after all that the stoical and visionary Emily went through I wanted to.be assured of a happy ending. was John never to find out what happened to the faithful Nell, whose ministrations to him were so lovingly described in Chapter one?

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-30-19

Unrewarding

Found this an rewarding listen/read. The book's narrative (not the reader) is slow. Lost patience increasingly, then to endure an ending as depressing as it was abrupt. Left thinking 'is that what over 400 pages were for?' The paper book is now waiting for the charity shop, the audio book I will return.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Vivien Strickland
  • 07-23-19

I couldn't finish this at all

This headed the best seller list the other week but didn't do it for me.

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  • Jules
  • 06-25-22

Lots of interesting parts

Overall a bit of a strange collection of themes, but still enjoyable. Lots of interesting historical elements worth researching afterwards.