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Burial Ritesby Hannah Kent
Synopses & Reviews
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?
"A magical exercise in artful literary fiction....With language flickering, sparkling and flashing like the northern lights....Beautiful are Kent's descriptions of the interminable summer light, the ever-present snow and ice and cold of winter's gloomy darkness, the mountains, sea and valleys where sustenance is blood-rung from sheep." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Delves deep into Scandinavian history, not to mention matters of storytelling, guilt, and silence....Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research...while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales." Publishers Weekly
"Rarely has a country's starkness and extreme weather been rendered so exquisitely. The harshness of the landscape and the lifestyle of nineteenth-century Iceland, with its dank turf houses and meager food supply, is as finely detailed as the heartbreak and tragedy of Agnes' life....[A] haunting reading from a bright new talent." Booklist (Starred Review)
"In the company of works by Hilary Mantel, Susan Vreeland, and Rose Tremain, this compulsively readable novel entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story. Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Gorgeously atmospheric...[with] memorable, complex characters." The New Yorker
"A gripping narrative of love and murder that inhabits a landscape and time frame as bleak and unforgiving as the crime and punishment that occurred there." San Francisco Chronicle
"An excellent premise...[and] a gripping tale about what Agnes was actually guilty of." The New York Times
"Enticing....Kent...convincingly animates Agnes...showing her headstrong humanity and heart-wrenching thirst for life." Wall Street Journal
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.
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