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Burial Rites

Burial Rites -
. Just finished reading this book and reading the book as opposed to listening to it really did enhance the experience for me and I upped my rating to 5 stars. Great book.

Reading this for the second time. I previously listened to this as an audio book and while the audio version is excellent I wanted to read this as I think it will enhance the experience even more.


Burial Rites is the extraordinary haunting debut novel by Hannah Kent an Australian Writer. This book is set in Iceland in 1829 and tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir who was found guilty of murdering her employer as he slept. She was condemned to death. She was the last person to be public executed in Iceland and this book is based on true events.

I read an interview with the author and she spent two years researching this story and the back round information to this story benefits greatly from this research as not only do we learn the what happened to Agnes we learn about a place, its peoples the customs and traditions or the time, their religious beliefs and the beautiful and harrowing landscape is described so well that you get a wonderful sense of time and place from Kent's writing. This is something I appreciate in a story as it enhances the book and the reader learns something about a place and time with which they may not be familiar.

Kent's powerful and beautiful prose takes a story that could have been depressing and gives it a wonderful haunting feel to it and reminded me of the feeling I had when I read Wuthering Heights. I loved the tone of the story and as I listened to this as an audio book, the narration was perfect for the story and really made an excellent audio book. I especially enjoyed the pronunciation of surnames of people and places in the story and the explanation that was at the beginning of the book. I am not a big fan of audio books as I much prefer to read a book but the narrator really was excellent. I will probably buy the paperback version someday just to read it again.

I loved how the author gives you the story from different points of view and you find yourself immersed in Agnes telling of her story as imagined by the author. I think I can see how Hannah Kent was so taken with Agnes and the events of 1829.

Burial rites is a thought provoking and deeply moving story and I would highly recommend it but it may not please everybody as it is not an uplifting story and some may find it rather dark.
I think it would make an excellent book club read as there is plenty to discuss.