The author, Andrew Miller, has been Booker prize-listed for Oxygen. He writes about a young engineer, in Paris in 1785, tasked by the King Louis XVI to demolish the old cemetery by the market of Les Halles which is overflowing and causing death and disease to the Parisians living nearby. The year he works on the project is relentless, clearing the burden of history, creating a new space for the crowded citizens, as befits a modern man of reason. Unfazed by stories of mummified corpses, and chanting priests, yet concerned that the destruction of the cemetery might somehow be connected with his own. The novel reaches a magnificent climax in a burning church.
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