Author: Hannah Kent
Published: 2014 (first published 2013)
Challenges: Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
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? (via Goodreads)
Thoughts: I really enjoyed the book; it definitely will be on my top ten books that I read in 2014. It was much like reading The Children Act this past fall, in that the language left me mesmerized by creating an atmosphere that was as stark as the environment of northern Iceland during the winter months.
The pace of the book reflected the starkness of the environment that surrounded the characters and didn't reveal too much of Agnes' story at once, but instead revealed her story slowly, piece-by-piece, with most of it in chronological order, but sometimes with a quick flashback to something that happened several years prior.
I also liked that reader got a sense of Agnes' thoughts and feelings as her execution date approaches. I particularly liked how the attitudes towards Agnes changed amongst the family over the course of the book and how Agnes becomes more sympathetic as the book wore on.
The characters came off as being a bit matter-of-fact and maybe a bit stark at times, reflecting the landscape. There were times that the book was tedious at times, but felt like there was just enough to keep one interested in the story.
I am looking forward to seeing how the book translates into a film, as a good portion of the book focuses on Agnes' thoughts and feelings.
Bottom line: If like books that draw you in through language and has a strong narrative, you will probably enjoy this read. Highly recommended.
Pages for 2014: 26,751