19 Oct 2019

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Book Review / Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Published:     10th September 2013
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


Now this was a book that I could not put down!  I have had this book since it came out back in 2013 and was in my 'to be read at some point' pile.  With historical novels, I really do have to be in the right mood and frame of mind to pick them up otherwise I just struggle to read them.  I am so glad that I had finally picked this one up!  I read this in one day and just could not go to bed until I had finished the last page.

We follow Agnes who is a convicted murderer of two men, by burning.  She is due to be executed but needs to be housed before then.  As is the custom back in that day in Iceland, she is placed with the family of an officer of the village.  The family are not happy at first but over time discover there is more to Agnes and her story than meets the eye.

There's a great combination of murder mystery and history here that just kept me turning the pages.  Yes, there is a lot of description and parts where I have to be honest and say that I was getting a little bit bored but that didn't last for long and we learnt something new.    This story was beautifully written and stayed with me long after I had finished reading.