Jun 11, 2014

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

They said I must die. They said that I stole the breaths from men, and now they must steal mine. I imagine, then, that we are all candle flames, greasy-bright, fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me in a grey wreath of smoke.

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 office 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.


I borrowed the summary from Amazon. Agnes has been given the death sentence. The execution will take place in a few months and during that time she has been ordered to stay at Jón Jónsson's farm. The family is horrified when they hear a murderess is coming to work and sleep in their home. Agnes has chosen an assistant priest named Tóti to stand by her side and give her spiritual guidance as is common in cases like this. She tries to forget her troubled past and imagines she's just a regular servant of the family, but very slowly Agnes starts to open up enough to tell her story to the people around her. 
Burial Rites is a book that is based on true events. The story genuinely impressed me and I couldn't stop reading until I finished the whole book. I wanted to know what had actually happened to Agnes and why she was convicted for such a brutal crime. Agnes is introvert and not easy to see through, but I found myself liking her immediately. The same goes for the family, I could understand they were cold at first, but fortunately they gradually became more selfless and warm. The story is so well written, I loved the beautiful prose. I could wholly imagine the cold and lonely days on an Icelandic farm in the nineteenth century. I was blown away by this story, I can't praise it enough!

6 comments:

  1. This is not something i would normally read - but it sounds really good!! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  2. It's not a genre I often read either, but this sounded too good to miss and it really was.

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  3. I loved this book, glad you liked it too!

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  4. This story sounds very interesting!

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  5. Oh wow this story sounds intense! And based on true events. creepy!

    I am so glad that you were blown away by it though. It sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing it with me

    Great Review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

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