Wednesday, May 01, 2013

First Wednesday Book Review Club: BURIAL RITES, Hannah Kent


Burial Rites











It it nearly impossible to believe that a 27 year old Australian graduate student wrote this book, so mature and polished is the writing. 

BURIAL RITES, based on the last execution of an Icelander, is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, a woman found guilty of the murder of two men in 1828. The story begins when she is brought to a rural farmhouse to await her execution. The family is appalled at having a murderess among them, but there is no other place for her to await her execution. At least she will serve as an unpaid servant in the interim. She proves useful to the family and community more than once.

A young minister is brought in to counsel Agnes in the months before her death. It is mostly he, a good man who's more than a little in love with her, who hears most of her story. Although in the close quarters of the farmhouse, the family hears her tale too. 

Kent uses the Icelandic language here and there and summons up great authenticity by her incredibly well researched details into what everyday life was like in Iceland in the1820s. We never doubt the sense of place or the rightness of what the characters say and think. 

It is never a happy story for any of the characters, but the pages turned quickly because the writing is that good. HIghly recommended. This is sure to be one of the big books of this sumer and fall.

For more book reviews, check with Barrie Summy. 

7 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, now you've got me intrigued! I like historical fiction and this one sounds like a compelling story. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Laurence said...

This book sounds very interesting, both the premise and the writing. You make me want to read it even though I don't read much historical fiction.

Barrie said...

This book sounds so good. I'm bummed it doesn't come out until September. After reading your review, I immediately thought of The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. Which I loved. Patti, are the two books at all similar?

pattinase (abbott) said...

I know I read that book but I can't remember it well enough to say. I think it was someone in the present investigating a murder whereas this is totally in 1825 and in Iceland, which seems quite exotic. I was surprised at how religious these people were.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I know I read that book but I can't remember it well enough to say. I think it was someone in the present investigating a murder whereas this is totally in 1825 and in Iceland, which seems quite exotic. I was surprised at how religious these people were.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

How wonderful to hit it out of the park on your first try as a writer! :) And it doesn't seem like she picked a particularly easy topic either...

Great review!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

This is a good tip. I'm always looking for historical fiction. Thanks for the review!