First North American edition.
New York, NY : Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
322 pages ; 25 cm
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. . . . BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place -- provided by publisher.
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Library Journal Review
|This mesmerizing debut from Kent is a haunting fictionalized account of the final months of Agnes Magnusdottir, an Icelandic work maid condemned to execution in 1829. Charged with the brutal murder of two men, Agnes is shipped off to the -Jonsson family's remote farm in northern Iceland to await her fate-death by beheading. As the narrative gracefully shifts among historical documents, flashbacks, and multiple characters' perspectives, listeners become captivated by the complex Agnes, a woman whose intelligence has offended many in the patriarchal 19th-century Icelandic society. Kent's prose is achingly beautiful, and her descriptions of even the smallest incidents are so exquisite listeners will want to go back and hear them over again. -VERDICT Recommend this heartbreaking tale, masterfully narrated by Scottish actress Morven Christie, to anyone who enjoys suspenseful, smart historical fiction. ["[T]his compulsively readable novel entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story. Highly recommended," read the starred review of the Little, Brown hc, LJ 7/13.]-Beth Farrell, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.|
Publishers Weekly 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 Magnusdottir, 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. Jon Jonsson, 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[s] her with a final audience to her life's lonely narrative." The multilayered story paints sympathetic and complex portraits of Agnes, the Jonssons, 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.|
|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?|
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