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Burial Rites

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Burial Rites Cover

ISBN13: 9780316243919
ISBN10: 0316243914
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 Toti, 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?

Review:

"Kent's debut delves deep into Scandinavian history, not to mention matters of storytelling, guilt, and silence. Based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the novel is set in rural Iceland in 1829. Agnes is awaiting execution for the murder of her former employer and his friend, not in a prison — there are none in the area — but at a local family's farm. Jón Jónsson, the father, grudgingly accepts this thankless task as part of his responsibility as a regional official, but his wife and daughters' reactions range from silent resentment to outright fear. After settling in to the household, Agnes requests the company of a young priest, to whom she confesses parts of her story, while narrating the full tale only to the reader, who, like the priest, 'provide her with a final audience to her life's lonely narrative.' The multilayered story paints sympathetic and complex portraits of Agnes, the Jónssons, and the young priest, whose motives for helping the convict are complicated. Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research — for example, she opens many of the chapters with documents that come directly from archival sources — while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Peggy Arthurs, September 17, 2013 (view all comments by Peggy Arthurs)
Excellent tale! Vivid writing! My first book with Iceland as a setting. Brutal is all I can say. Cold, stark, primitive. I can't imagine living like the people in this book lived. Written in first and third person narrative.

Agnes was the last person to be put to death in Iceland. She was beheaded on January 12th, 1830 along with another young man. Not much is really known, this long after, of the details or of Agnes herself, but Ms. Kent does a nice job of filling in the blanks with 'what might have been'. She includes a map of the region and a small pronunciation guide to help with the names of people and places. I found that very helpful!

I was struck with the 'religiousness' of the people and yet how cruel they were to Agnes. It was disturbing to me. The young priest sent to 'bring her back to God' was reprimanded for showing her grace and kindness...

"She seems sincere," Toti said.
"I can tell you that she is not. You must apply the Lord's word to her as a whip to a hard-mouthed horse. You will not get anywhere otherwise."

As a former redhead, before I turned gray, I had to laugh at this...

"After recording his confession, I was of the unwavering opinion that his was an intransigent character. His appearance excited in me strong suspicions of that order: he is freckle-faced and - I beg your pardon, Reverend - red-headed, a sign of a treacherous nature."

Both of those statements were made by the District Commissioner, sort of like the sheriff I suppose in that region.

Even though this book has beautiful language and descriptions it left me feeling restless all evening when I finished it. The story really gets to you. Really brings Agnes to life in your minds eye. It left me crying. You should read it.
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Silvers Reviews, September 16, 2013 (view all comments by Silvers Reviews)

Marvelous, incredible, beautifully told.

A murderess who must be housed at a farm because there is a financial problem with the prisons? How would you feel about being forced to live with someone who committed murder? Would you feel safe? Would you protest?

Agnes Magnusdóttir was brought to Margret and Jon's home until her execution date. Agnes is required to work as a farmhand in a town that embellishes her murderous deeds more and more each time the tale is told. BURIAL RITES is based on an actual historical event in Iceland.

In alternating voices and flashbacks the author masterfully lets the reader in on the secrets and the story of the murders and of Agnes' life before her conviction and in her current position in the chosen household.

The author also has you questioning if Agnes has been wrongfully accused. Her flashbacks describe the actual murder, her relationship with the deceased, and her earlier life. A life lived in this same town holding her captive.

The writing and prose is exceptional. The book flows beautifully as it describes the harsh life in Iceland and the bitter weather. There is no lull in the narration.

The book's descriptions are amazing. Every minute detail is described beautifully. Even the dreary, tedious life of each character is described so well you see it clearly and are right there sharing their misery. The living conditions were described as on the poverty level but the families had servants....that was a bit confusing.

Everyone was poised to not like Agnes, but as the story unfolded the family became fond of her simply because she was a good person and a good worker. The only person who didn't like her was Lauga, the daughter of Margret and Jon. Margret became comfortable with Agnes and enjoyed having her around. Each of the characters connected well and are marvelously authentic and believable.

BURIAL RITES is a book that you do not want to miss. The book's situation and setting, the writing, and the characters are all phenomenal and come alive through the author's exquisite skill.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation at the BEA by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780316243919
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Kent, Hannah
Author:
Christie, Morven
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Popular Fiction-Suspense
Subject:
Literary
Publication Date:
20130910
Binding:
CD-audio
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 1 in 0.71 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

Burial Rites Used Hardcover
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Product details 352 pages Little Brown and Company - English 9780316243919 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Kent's debut delves deep into Scandinavian history, not to mention matters of storytelling, guilt, and silence. Based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the novel is set in rural Iceland in 1829. Agnes is awaiting execution for the murder of her former employer and his friend, not in a prison — there are none in the area — but at a local family's farm. Jón Jónsson, the father, grudgingly accepts this thankless task as part of his responsibility as a regional official, but his wife and daughters' reactions range from silent resentment to outright fear. After settling in to the household, Agnes requests the company of a young priest, to whom she confesses parts of her story, while narrating the full tale only to the reader, who, like the priest, 'provide her with a final audience to her life's lonely narrative.' The multilayered story paints sympathetic and complex portraits of Agnes, the Jónssons, and the young priest, whose motives for helping the convict are complicated. Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research — for example, she opens many of the chapters with documents that come directly from archival sources — while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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