Tuesday, September 3, 2013

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?


Burial Rites can only be described as magnificent. It is a powerful, compelling narrative of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman executed in Iceland in the early 1800's. 

There are few words to describe the beauty and passion of this novel. It is gripping, packed with emotion, and poignant with humanity.

Agnes was a poor maid who along with another woman and man, were sentenced to death for the brutal murder of her master. As she awaits her beheading, she is sent to live with Jon Jonsson, a government district officer, and his family. For the Jonsson family, there was no choice in the matter. The accept Agnes with great reluctance. Assistant Reverend Toti, a junior cleric, is assigned with the monumental task of spiritually preparing Agnes for her imminent execution.

Through flashbacks, the reader learns of Agnes’ ordeal and how she became involved with the murder. As the months pass, the lives of Agnes, Toti, and the Jonsson family become entwined as each character struggles to deal with Agnes’ death and the emotions stirred by it. 

Hannah Kent writes a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale of a woman who is a victim of poor circumstances and the effect she has upon the people surrounding her. The harsh realities of the Iceland’s indigent women is exposed in this gritty tale. Strong visual writing make this a novel that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. It's an emotionally intense and lovingly written story that is causing a great stir in the publishing world. This is a must read!!!

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