This is such a great debut from a new young author. It is based on real events that happened in Iceland in the early Nineteenth Century and Kent has put her own twist on things. And she does a great job of it too. It has had some really good reviews from some of the top newspapers and I would really like you to read it!
So the story is two men are murdered and the farm they are on is burned to the ground. Then a man and two women are arrested for the crime and sentenced to execution. One of the women, Agnes, is sent to live on a farm with a family until her execution date, and here she is treated as a criminal and eventually her side of the story is told.
The novel shows real maturity for a debut, and I think it has a brilliant and important message to say. The difference between what we hear and believe and what is told directly to us is very significant and it is an issue that is relevant all the time and throughout history.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kent’s writing style here, and the plotline had me constantly wanting to know more and so I cheesily say, I couldn’t put it down.
“In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover.
Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge – and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they assumed…
Based on actual events, Burial Rites is an astonishing and moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we’re told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, in which every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?”