When Captain John Lacroix returns home from Spain, wounded, unconscious, and alone, he believes that he has seen the worst of what men may do. It is 1809, and in England’s wars against Napoleon, the Battle of Corruna stands out as a humiliation. Slowly regaining his health, Lacroix journeys north to the misty isles of Scotland with the intent of forgetting the horrors of the war. Unbeknownst to him, however, something else has followed him back from the war—something far more dangerous than a memory.
Miller’s new novel, Now We Shall Be Entirely Free seems bent on defying convention and expectations ... what begins as if it might be a full-immersion historical novel...quickly becomes instead a psychological mystery ... The book’s relation to history is more complicated than in Miller’s other novels. At times he suggests that the past and the present greatly resemble each other ... At other times he’s at pains to point out how backward they were in the early 19th century ... Even more often, Miller emphasizes not so much the pastness of the past as its strangeness, dwelling on details remarkable just for their oddity ... In its formal slipperiness, first one kind of book, then another, Now We Shall Be Entirely Free seems to be making the...point: that things are never quite what you expect, and history is altogether stranger than most accounts suggest. What makes Miller’s own account so riveting is its alertness to wonder and unpredictability.
...a deep historical sense and generous material detail with truly diabolical suspense ... The chase, as it may be called, is an enthralling and labyrinthine one over land and sea ... This is a completely engrossing novel, rich in the details and feeling for a vanished age, deft in character portraits, and almost unbearably suspenseful. It is, in fact, the sort of book that takes more will power than I normally possess to prevent myself, while reading it, from turning ahead to the last page. I held myself back, though, and was duly rewarded.
It’s a wonder Andrew Miller is not a household name ... Perhaps his excellent eighth book...will change that, though the fact it’s not made this year’s Man Booker longlist is already something of a travesty ... 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. It is also a book of ideas: about male violence, the impact of war and the price of freedom. Miller anchors the action in precise, convincing detail...But there’s an intimacy to the way he inhabits his characters that makes them feel modern and natural ... Miller understands that the past is not something separate from us. His wry dialogue is a particular treat, but he can also write with a lovely, soulful stillness.