Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - 336 pages
ARC from Little Brown/Hachette Book Group
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.
My Review: 5 stars
Not only is this author mentored by one of my very faves, Geraldine Brooks, but also the subject is based on real events which makes this a “true” work of historical fiction. I adored this book . As bleak and tragic as the story may seem, the plot was riveting. This author writes simply yet the words seem dense with abundant symbolism. Ravens, stones and fire are mentioned repeatedly in different ways. Agnes could seem like an unreliable narrator, but she’s written in a way that makes you trust her and wholly believe in her. There were many scenes that were very gorily described, especially the lamb slaughter. Holy smokes, I was smelling iron from blood and seeing skulls all night. There is no waste on a farm in Iceland and I did like learning about their way of life. I found myself googling some of the words such as badstofa to see where they spent so much of their time. I loved the juxtaposition of the two sisters at the farmhouse and would love to read more about them. If I had three words to describe this book they would be cold, unjust and dark, yet this is a must read for 2013.
Quotes I liked:
- “The effort of speaking of speaking as little to each other as possible had exhausted them both.”
- “Perhaps he is merely a gifted liar. G-d know I have met enough men to know that once weaned off the breast they begin to lie through their teeth.”
- “She is not like me. She knows only the tree of life. She has not seen it twisted roots pawing stones and coffins.”
- “As they say, blindur er boklaus madur. Blind is a man without a book.”
- “Natan loved that about Rosa. He loved the way she knew how to build things with words. She invented her own language to say what everyone else could only feel.”
- “We’d place words carefully together, piling them upon one another, leaving no spaces. We each created towers, two beacons the like of which are built along roads to guide the way when the weather comes down. We saw one another through the fog, the suffocating repetition of life.”
- “For the first time in my life, someone saw me, and I love him because he made me feel I was enough.”
- Tags: 2013, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Iceland, Mystery,
Labels: 2013, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Iceland, Mystery