Review - Burial Rites, Hannah Kent

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Read by our f2f bookclub, this turned into a fascinating discussion.

Reading BURIAL RITES I will admit to ambivalent feelings. On the one hand obviously extensively researched, and carefully crafted, there was something slightly distant and worthy about it that frequently made it feel a little like hard work. Having said that, deeply admiring of some of the choices this author made - to not sugar coat an ending and to leave plenty of elements to the reader's imagination.

It turned out to be a great book to discuss, around a table with a few bottles of wine. Some members of the club came to it with very positive feelings, others (like me) less so, but as the discussion evolved, there was much to talk about, to compare, to consider, and from that it took on many new dimensions. It's always a wonderful thing when a book can be bought into this group of great readers who really think about what they have read / and bring their own unique perspectives to the gathering. 

Year of Publication

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? 

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