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Burial Rites

Burial Rites 8

by Hannah Kent
Publication Date: 01/05/2013
4/5 Rating 8 Reviews
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men. Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes' spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as he attempts to salvage her soul. As the summer months fall away to winter and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes' ill-fated tale of longing and betrayal begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn't she? Based on a true story, Burial Rites is a deeply moving novel about personal freedom: who we are seen to be versus who we believe ourselves to be, and the ways in which we will risk everything for love. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland's formidable landscape, where every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
Historical Fiction
Publication Date:
Pan Macmillan Australia
Country of origin:
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Hannah Kent

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnusdottir.

Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. Burial Rites is her first novel.

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  • Iceland

    by on

    Luring tale of a list soul in a hapless, helpless situation. Beautiful writing makes this a must read. The weather, the characters, the helplessness work together to create a unique setting. It's sad , very sad,. Life sometimes forces us to have an opinion until we obtain more insight which makes us question our own lives as well.
    Definately one of my all time favourites.

  • Icelandic Folklore

    by on

    Although a debut novel, Burial Rites has hit the bestseller lists because its content is steeped in history and captures the imagination. Agnes Magnusdottir was the last female executed in Iceland in the nineteenth century. After being condemned to die and because there are no jails where she can be held, the task of housing her falls to the family of a local magistrate. The family are forced to re-evaluate their notions about Agnes as they hear her tell her story and lay her soul bare to a young minister. Gradually we see that Agnes is not the monster the press and government officials have portrayed her to be. Although set nearly two hundred years ago, there is much in this novel which is still pertinent in our world today. This beautifully evocative novel tells a story which is obviously very dear to the heart of Hannah Kent.

  • A must read

    by on

    This book has been on the best sellers list for a while but it really captured my attention when Hannah Kent was the subject of Australia Story one night in July.

    The book is a novel based on the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland.

    It is a very moving story of love, crime, perception of people and questioning who we believe.

    Hannah Kent is a young South Australian author who writes beautiful prose to tell her version of this historical story.

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