Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Inspired by a true story, Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites was shortlisted for The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, The Guardian First Book Award and The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards.

About the Book:  

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir 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 Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, 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 had 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?

About the Author:

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir.

Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award.

Burial Rites is her first novel.

My Review:

I listened to this book on audible and I have to say I am very glad I did as there is no way I could pronounce all the different and complicated Icelandic names and places plus the narrator had a beautiful tone of voice.

Based on a true story, Burial Rites is about the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.  The author truly brings to life the story of the main character Agnes and we learn about the crime she has been found guilty of, her childhood and events that led up to the murder.

This is an exceptionally well written debut novel which I found fascinating and dramatic.  The author was able to recreate her version of the events in intricate detail and the entire story was hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric.

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