Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Burial Rites

Burial Rites
Hannah Kent

First Sentence
"They said I must die."
Publisher's Description:

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?

Dear Reader,

Before I go into my review, I wanted to share with you how I came across this book. I don't think I've mentioned my subscription to a local bookstore by me, every month they send me a book (selected carefully) that has been signed by the Author... all for the price of only the hardcover. You don't pick the book, which can make this a wonderful surprise or somewhat disappointing. I look forward to that time every month when the package comes in. I slowly open the carefully shipped parcel to reveal this months selection, hoping it'll be something I'll like. Most of the time the book sounds vaguely familiar, sometimes the title is completely unknown to me but every now and then I receive a book that is one on my "to-read" list that I've been anticipating greatly. This was one of those and it didn't disappoint.

The story is loosely based on an actual account of a woman sent to death in Iceland around the early 1800's. The woman was real, the setting is real but the Author took justices with the story since she had only small stories and documentation to go on. She did a wonderful job coming up with a believable tale and you can tell she really did her research on Icelandic tradition and landscape. This book even included a map, any book that includes a map gets an automatic star for me! As I was reading, I felt the cold temperate climate of Iceland, the lack of warmth even under my own covers in bed. She really brought you right into this book with her descriptions. I think that might have been the biggest plus to the book.

The story itself was extremely sad but understandably, the topic of death or waiting for death can't be anything but depressing. However, I was charmed by the book so much that I kept forgetting it was such a somber story. When I did turn back to the sadness, it was deep and thoughtful and also very heartbreaking. At first, you don't really quite know what to think of Agnes... is she guilty? Is she innocent? As the story unfolds you get a deeper understanding and you start to empathize with her situation. What would it be like to know death is coming? Even worse... to not know the date of your own execution? To live out your days under a roof of strangers who don't trust you. The reality is extremely harsh.

The Author brings many things to think about with this book. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if she didn't bring a little philosophy and religion into it. If you hate novels with sadness that can make you cry, I would say READ it anyways but grab the box of tissues. I'm very curious to see what others thought about this book, any comments... please leave them!

Happy Reading,

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