Friday, 15 January 2016

Review: Burial Rites


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?

I really don't know where to start with this one. Everything I say will be redundant.

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”

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.
“Everything I said was taken from me and altered until the story wasn’t my own.”

I've read this book for the first time about a year ago and ever since then I wasn't able to get it out of my head. It's the type of book that sticks with you and leaves you in tears in no time. Seriously, I cried from the page one till the very end (and hours later, but who counts). Once you start reading it you won't be able to do or read anything else.

It is really hard for me to write anything without making any spoilers, but even so, from the first sentence in the book it is clear what would happen to Agnes. There is no guessing. But what keeps us reading is Agnes' confession about her life and the love for the wrong man.

“They will see the whore, the madwoman, the murderess, the female dripping blood into the grass and laughing with her mouth choked with dirt. They will say “Agnes” and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.”

“I don't want to be remembered, I want to be here!”

Wonderful novel. Beautifully written. The setting, the atmosphere, the feels... Unforgettable!
Hannah made these characters extremely alive and real.
I'm in awe. 5 STARS!!!

I highly recommend this book, you won't regret it. Burial Rites will haunt you for a long time.

P.S. There's this song "Oh Death" by Jen Titus and it's so consuming and fitting in the Agnes' story that will leave you breathless. You should definitely check it out.

About The Author
Hannah Kent won the 2011 Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award for her manuscript, Burial Rites, and is currently mentored by Geraldine Brooks. She is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and teaches Creative Writing and English at Flinders University, where she is also completing her PhD.

In 2011 she was a judge of Melbourne University/The Australian Centre’s Peter Blazey Fellowship for Life Writing. Her creative and critical writing has appeared in The Big Issue, Australian Book Review, The Wheeler Centre, Kill Your Darlings and Voiceworks, amongst others.

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