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Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9692463,464 (4.02)346
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. . . . BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place --… (more)
  1. 90
    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (Mopsy)
  2. 50
    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Polished Hoe portrays conditions in 20th-century Jamaica, while Burial Rites focuses on 19th-century Iceland, but these exquisitely detailed literary historical novels explore the lives of unusually intelligent women whose treatment by their masters has resulted in terrible crimes.… (more)
  3. 20
    Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although Slammerkin is more suspenseful and richly detailed than the spare, reflective Burial Rites, both character-driven historical novels draw upon true stories of young women accused of murder. Emphasis on the protagonists' impoverished backgrounds allows for exploration of social issues.… (more)
  4. 00
    The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: 19th Century murderess in a cold, bleak location.
  5. 00
    Falling Creatures by Katherine Stansfield (Becchanalia)
  6. 00
    The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown (sturlington)
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    A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen (lucy.depalma)
  8. 00
    The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  9. 00
    Independent People by Halldór Laxness (GerrysBookshelf)
  10. 00
    Justice Undone by Thor Vilhjalmsson (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Another novel about murder in 19th-century Iceland that's based on a real case.
  11. 00
    Achtendertig nachten by Janne IJmker (Blogletter)
  12. 00
    The Madness of a Seduced Woman by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: Another woman named Agnes, murder and the vulnerabilities created by love.
  13. 00
    The Blue Fox: A Novel by Sjon (tandah)
  14. 01
    The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman (KimarieBee)
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» See also 346 mentions

English (241)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (246)
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
A quick and engaging read based on the true story of the last woman executed in Iceland (with fictional elements... see author's note at the end). 19th century northern Iceland is as much a character in this novel as the human ones, with its merciless shifts that define the rhythms of farming life.

Side note: anyone who enjoyed Netflix's Alias Grace will enjoy this as well. ( )
  SocProf9740 | Jul 11, 2021 |
A well-researched, fictionalized version of the events preceding the execution of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland. The book is nicely written, and its strong portrayal of Iceland is its strongest aspect: haunting, harrowing, grim, and gritty, a lifelong struggle to survive. Sadly, Agnes's developing relationship with her jailer family is unconvincing as is her developing bond the Reverend Toti. The characters are inconsistent, unconvincing, and at times, bland. Finally, the end is too abruptly hastily delivered with too much time spent describing her life and background relative to Agnes's own actions leading up to the murders.
( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Gripping, disturbing, and beautiful! This will haunt me for a long time. ( )
  RedSonja76 | Jun 26, 2021 |
Very tragic. Made one feel for the main character, that maybe she wasn't as bad as everybody thought. ( )
  DAVIDGOTTS | Mar 31, 2021 |
4.75*
This book was so close to a 5* for me, but didn't quite make it. After finishing this book and reading a little about the author, I was really surprised that this was her first book. Her writing is beautiful and it was quite obvious that she spent quite a bit of time researching the historical evidence behind this story. Her descriptions and the places and the characters is so rich that I felt like I was there with them.

I felt so connected to a number of the characters as well which ended up being what helped me to push through the first pages or so. Even though I knew how the book is going to end (more or less), I was still rooting for Agnes and hoping certain things would change.

With all these joys in mind, there were a few things that made this book fall just short of the 5*. I'm not sure why, but something about the beginning felt slow for me. Somewhere right around the page mark was where I started to find myself truly invested and drawn into the story. It may perhaps be that there were so many new and different names of people and places that I struggled through those parts. It could also be that some parts felt very dense with information - useful and necessary information, but dense nonetheless. Secondly, there were a few times that I found the POV changes to be slightly confusing. We would start hearing Agnes' first hand account to Toti of events, then suddenly we would switch to Agnes remembering events, but not sharing all of them. This switching had me confused at a few different places and I was left wondering whether she was sharing information aloud or if she was just remembering the events.

These few things had me slightly distracted or annoyed at times, but overall I flew through this book and loved the way in which Hannah Kent wove this story together. ( )
  courty4189 | Mar 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
One of the best “Scandinavian” crime novels I have read, Burial Rites is the work of an Australian who visited Iceland on a cultural exchange.
 
The novel isn't seamless—Ms. Kent disrupts its rhythms by awkwardly switching between an omniscient narrator and Agnes's first-person point of view. But it convincingly animates Agnes, who feels "knifed to the hilt with fate," showing her headstrong humanity and heart-wrenching thirst for life. At one point she recalls seeing two icebergs grinding together off the northern shore, the friction from their exposed boulders causing gathered driftwood to go up in flames. At her best, Ms. Kent achieves a similar eerie force in this story of passion in a frozen place.
 
There are other stylistic problems. Some dialogue that’s meant to seem elevated and of its time simply sounds unidiomatic: “I was worried of as much”; “The only recourse to her absolution would be through prayer.” There’s prefab phrasing — “my heart throbbed,” “she said breathlessly,” “overcome with relief” — and descriptive clichés, including a sky that’s “bright, bright blue, so bright you could weep.”
added by hf22 | editNew York Times, Steven Heighton (Sep 27, 2013)
 
A remarkable story of the last case of capital punishment recorded in Iceland, Burial Rites is the extraordinary debut novel by Australian author Hannah Kent.
 
Burial Rites is a debut of rare sophistication and beauty – a simple but moving story, meticulously researched and hauntingly told.
added by hf22 | editThe Guardian, Lucy Scholes (Aug 25, 2013)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hannah Kentprimary authorall editionscalculated
Christie, MorvenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lubikowski, MartinCartographer.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I was worst to the one I loved best.

Laxdæla Saga
Dedication
For my parents
First words
They said I must die.
Quotations
His hair is as red as before, as red as the midnight sun. It looks as though his locks have soaked up the light as a skein of wool suffers the dye.
"Do you know the right name for a flock of ravens?"
Tóti shook his head.
"A conspiracy, Reverend. A conspiracy."
A tight fear, like a fishing line, hooked upon something that must, inevitably, be dragged from the depths.
Yes, I am quite alone, and a tremble of exhilaration passes along my skin, like the tremor on the surface of a pot of water about to boil.
At Hvammur, during the trial, they plucked at my words like birds. Dreadful birds, dressing in red with breasts of silver buttons, and cocked heads and sharp mouths, looking for guilt like berries on a bush.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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. . . . BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place --

No library descriptions found.

Book 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.
Haiku summary
Listen to Agnes
Tell her version of events;
But is it the truth?
(passion4reading)

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