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Synopsis

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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Burial Rites
Average rating
4.5 / 5
August 22nd, 2014
I am amazed that this book was a debut for such a young Author! Surprising too is the fact that it was not written by an Author born in Iceland! I absolutely loved this book and I am not easily hooked. It was interesting, informative, entertaining, sad. I have never read a book twice but will definitely read this again!!
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1 review
February 12th, 2014
An incredibly emotional story set in the beautiful landscape of Iceland. The main character Agnes will leap into your heart & never leave even after the last page! Written beautifully by the author and the best book I read in 2013.
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1 review
February 2nd, 2014
This is a beautifully written book about the last woman to be executed for murder in Iceland. The setting is bleak as the lifestyle was harsh. It is not only a brilliant insight to the way to the lifestyle of the farmers on their small holdings but also a very moving account of hardship, human relationships and the plight of a people with no power. Hannah Kent has written an amazing first book and makes a story from Icelandic history so engaging that it is impossible to put down.
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1 review
January 27th, 2014
Loved this book....the descriptions of the Icelandic landscape and living conditions cast an almost claustrophobic feeling which is in keeping with the young woman awaiting execution. The story of her tragedy and the hardship of those responsible for her imprisonment is both touching and heartbreaking.
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1 review
January 27th, 2014
There is a good storyline, at times, a bit predictable but that did not cause any of the chapters to lose their essence. You always have the desire to find out more about Agnes' story even though sometimes you could predict what has happened. I found it hard to identify with her, maybe because I am not a woman, therefore, my conclusion that this would find better sympathy with female readers. I tried as hard but I could not find a reason to identify, I felt sorry and pitied her more than anything else. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the book in its entirety but if it was not for the narrator Morven Christie, I would have probably not read it at all. I must say on that note, that audiobooks, helped me renew with a passion that was long gone. I had not picked up a book at a local library for years. I was disgusted by the lack of creativity out there and really a bit of the same thing constantly, pretty much like movies nowadays. I still find today's book do not engage readers sufficiently into critical thinking, oh well, it is an era of video games and TV. Agnes strength, throughout the years was very much appreciated. Her loneliness and injustices done to her were not on the other hand. However, more could have been done to save her, but that's understandable in 18-19th century Europe. Many across the land had similar fate, some without even a trial. At least, she's got one. I really liked Tóti but I found him to soft in dealing with Agnes...particularly not telling her about his feelings for her and how much he desired her but I would also guess that was a consequence of his status as priest or reverend.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
Of the many books that I read in 2013, this one was by far my favourite. This literary debut is beautifully written. Although the ultimate outcome is known because the story that Hannah Kent has written is based on a true event, how Hannah unravels her version of history (based on extensive research) is compelling and utterly moving. This story will slowly draw you in and you can't help but be transported and immersed. This is a must read.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
I really liked this book. I read it a few months ago now but I still think about it and am now comparing other books to it. For a first book I think this author has done a brilliant job. There are spoilers in this review. It is the story of Agnes who was involved in a murder, Toti the reverend/councillor and the family who looked after her up until the time of her execution. The weather is used I thought to reflect the mood of the book is sombre which I thought was great. The characters develop through especially Toti. At first he was like a paster straight out of school doing everything by the book and then he started to really listen to Agnes. She missed him towards the end of the book but I think this was more because he was someone she could tell everything to without being judged for where she had come from. Throughout her life Agnes had experienced abandonment, miss treatment and was generally not appreciated for the things she did as in her ability to work well. She met Natan who gave her fulfilment both mentally and physically. The book indicated that this was the first time she had actually being able to have some sort of intellectual conversation. She felt valued for the first time in her life, all these feelings over rode her ability to judge if he was a good or bad person. I didn’t get the impression that she was forced or coerced in sex…….. for me it was as if it was the next step for Agnes to say yes. She felt appreciated and wanted some love. Where as Natan used her for all that he could get out of her. Another thing I liked about this book was the development of the relationships between Agnes and Toti and Agnes and Margret. Initially they didn’t like Agnes and by the end of the book they knew her and were able to empathise with her. The characters were believable as was the story line. The feelings the author brought out that Agnes was going through really got to me at the end of the book. I was crying as I read the last part. In reading this book it felt like this could have been what happened at that time. The author did well I thought with this subject. I would definitely read another book written by this author.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
A great debut novel from Hannah Kate, it kept my interest and had me up reading late into the night, till the end. I highly recommend Burial Rites and eagerly await her next.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
This is an achingly beautiful book that manages to transport you into the time and landscape of this sad story. It is convincing, insightful and intelligent in its telling and deserves the rave reviews it has received. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
A wonderfully haunting account of an Icelandic woman awaiting her execution. All the way throught the book you were in limbo as to her guilt. A real glimpse into Iceland's past.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Beautifully written with a very authentic voice. Kent clearly conducted deep research, but combines this with a real understanding of her characters. Disturbing but moving.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
A beautiful read, couldn't put it down. Hannah Kent has excelled with her debut novel. Highly recommended.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This is a dark, brooding story with a real sense of place. I really enjoyed it, even though you know how the ending will transpire, it does not in any way take away from the main story. This will be a book for the favorites shelf and I look forward to reading it again as I loved the atmospheric feel to it and want to re-visit that feeling for a second time.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This book is a stunning debut novel. Here's hoping Hannah Kent has other tales to tell. Her language is lyrical and the character of Agnes is complex and poignant. In a way, there is a cruelty in how Kent draws the reader into Agnes' soul when one knows the inevitable heartbreak that lies in store for her. The other characters' gradual affection for the doomed woman is also cleverly evoked. At first I found the interpolation of official records to be distracting but ultimately I found myself returning to them to fully understand the attitudes of the time. We may never really know what Agnes Magnusdottir was like, or whether she was complicit in the murders, but Kent is to be lauded for this beautiful rendering of a woman whose life was beleaguered from childhood and had to survive the cold, harsh world of Iceland's landscape, prejudices and law.
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
January 23rd, 2014
I loved the book. It was well told and wonderfully written. It is a historical novel based on the life of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last person to be executed in Iceland in 1830. It tells the story of the last year of her life, living on a farm while she awaits her execution. The attention to detail was wonderful. It tells of the history, the landscape and how people survived day to day in such a harsh land and time. I hope Hannah Kent has another novel for us soon.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This book was brilliant, it was the first book in ages that was interesting enough to keep me awake and reading well into the night. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It was my number one book for 2013.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
A book that takes you into the world of 19th century Iceland with all it's beauty, hardships and superstitions. Hanah Kent's first novel is gripping and beautifully written. Based on the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir waiting for her execution for murder and of the people who are given to care for her. I couldn't put the book down until I finished it, but I still didn't want it to end. It is such a great read.
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1 review
January 22nd, 2014
Absolutely loved this heartbreaking story. Definitely one that stays with you.
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1 review
January 22nd, 2014
This book draws the reader in to a place very foreign to most Australians and a story that holds attention to the end. I wasn't sure I would like this book yet I really enjoyed it!
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1 review
January 22nd, 2014
I read this book over one sunday...what a debut for a young writer....the mix of fact and fiction that until the end you still don't know if the accused had committed the crime or not... even if you dont like crime or history factoid stories you will no be able to put this down..whatever the time frame the human emotions are always the same and this is why Shakespeare is still so popular. As Agnes waits out her time till her execution, the last in Iceland, we see the person behind the crime and also the reluctant host family, there is very little black and white but a million shades of grey. We also see the influence they all have on each other including the young reverend assigned to her spiritual welfare. Cannot wait for the next book from this author.
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1 review

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