HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Good People by Hannah Kent
Loading...

The Good People

by Hannah Kent

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5474129,376 (4)60
The fires on the hills smouldered orange as the women left, pockets charged with ashes to guard them from the night. Watching them fade into the grey fall of snow, Nance thought she could hear Maggie's voice. A whisper in the dark. "Some folk are born different, Nance. They are born on the outside of things, with a skin a little thinner, eyes a little keener to what goes unnoticed by most. Their hearts swallow more blood than ordinary hearts; the river runs differently for them." Nora Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheal. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference. Unable to care for the child alone, Nora hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow's house. Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheal. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken...… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 60 mentions

English (39)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
I read Burial Rites last year and enjoyed Kent's prose style and true-fictional telling of a historical murder. The Good People riffs on the same theme, moving from Iceland to Ireland in the same early 19th Century time period. It's likely because of this similarity that I found this harder to engage with.

Whichever of the books I read first I was going to find the more immediately readable, but this is the better of the two to recommend. Its driven by the fundamental wrongness of two of our three protagonists. I'm a sucker for the "rightness" of the rural pastoral over the urbane Urban. And Kent knows I'm in a sympathetic crowd. She uses this to ratchet the dread and frustration as the appeal to the old ways leaves a trail of unnecessary death. And the right options are told so unlikably.

How do you try well intentioned ignorance?
  thenumeraltwo | Feb 10, 2020 |
This is a story that will stick with me. It’s based on a true incident of the time using a lot of the same names.

It’s based in the mid 1820’s near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland (county on western coast) and deals with the deep superstitions of fairies, changelings, herbal remedies, and fairy circles of that time and how they intersect with the developing methods of the legal system. To this day, these areas are called ‘thin places’ (not in the book, just from my own research). I specifically chose this book for the location - Kerry being my most loved area in Ireland so far, because of their adherence to the Irish language, simpler way of life, and the beauty of the region. There is even a character from Dingle, which made me smile.

Getting on with a small review: There was a line in the books saying something about how the most magical times of day are dawn and dusk. It didn’t go into more detail, but the characters in the scene were by a lake near a wood and it led you to think of shifting shadows and deep dark areas before a rising sun.

The magic of this book is in the darkness you can’t see and in the things people don’t understand. It was woven throughout every description. The ‘things you can’t see’ were folded in perfectly with everyday life and showed how people’s minds go to what makes sense to them based off their own experiences and areas they live. ( )
  mdunagan | Dec 3, 2019 |
This is a dark, bleak story set in even bleaker and sadder, darker times. It is also not a fairy tale… but a tale of fairies… only not like any you may have read before. In early 19th century Ireland and some other parts of the world some folks believed that fairies were to be fearfully respected as they were malicious and mischievous. There was many every day things they were believed capable of…some harmless for the most part…others not so much. They dry up the cows' milk, stop the hens from lying, but the worse thing was that sometimes they abducted people and swapped the person for one of their own. In its place a “changing” was left. Nora Leathy’s 4 year old grandson is not the child he was 2 years ago. She knows there is something wrong with him. She just doesn’t know how wrong or the consequences that it would bring. I really enjoyed the book as I can remember sitting for hours while my Irish grandmother told us stories of the fairies and the wee folk. A delightful...yet sometimes disturbing story that abounds with lessons for those willing to learn. ( )
  Carol420 | Oct 16, 2019 |
This review can also be found on my blog.

This novel follows Nóra as she grapples with the grief of losing both her daughter and her husband. Left alone to care for her grandson, Micheál, who at four years old is no longer able to walk or talk, she takes in a maid named Mary to help her around the house. The book focuses quite closely on Irish superstition with particular attention paid to changeling lore. While the townspeople as a whole are quite superstitious, Nóra experiences a psychotic break of sorts that leads her to believe her grandson has been changed and is a fairy. She funnels her rage toward the boy, desperate for a cure.

What this book suffers from most, in my opinion, is it’s length. I felt like it took far too long to pick up its pace and was far too drawn out near the end. The content is difficult and this should have been a much more difficult read than it was, but I struggled to connect emotionally to any of the characters. There were a few parts where I felt some anxiety and really wanted to know what happened next, but for the most part I was just trying to get through it. ( )
  samesfoley | Sep 13, 2019 |
[The Good People] by [[Hannah Kent]]

This is a rare example of a book that I purchased in a bookstore on vacation and read immediately. And it was fun!

The book is set in Ireland, probably in the early 1900s. The "Good People" of the title are fairies who are credited and blamed with much of the trials and tribulations of a small village in rural Ireland. Nance is the local healer who has the knowledge of the Good People and the locals both need her services and distrust her practices and intentions. This distrust is exacerbated by the new, young, Priest in the village who denounces her skill and encourages the villagers to trust the church instead of her fairy-craft.

There are several subplots, but the main story line involves Nora, a recent widow who is caring for her deceased daughter's son, Micheal. Micheal was born a "normal" child, but at about 2 years of age, coinciding with the death of the daughter (his mother), Micheal stops progressing in language and loses the use of his legs. Nora, under Nance's influence, believes that the Good People have taken the actual child, Micheal, and replaced him with a fairy child. The steps the women take to banish the fairy lead to dire consequences.

I liked a lot of elements of this book - the setting, the characters, and the fast-paced writing style. There was one thing that bothered me throughout the book, though. My expectations in a plot like this are that the woman being accused of witchcraft-type practices actually has quite a bit of skill as a healer, through inherited knowledge of herbs and good medical practices. I've read so many novels with women midwives who are skilled in delivering babies and curing common illnesses. Usually they don't know the science behind their practices but our current knowledge shows why these practices were actually helpful. But in this book, Nance really doesn't seem to have much of that skill. I couldn't figure out if I was supposed to be supporting her when her actions were obviously not going to work and seemed only rooted in this fear of fairies. If this culture blamed mental illness on fairies, then holding the affected person to a fire, or effectively poisoning them with herbs, or holding them in a converging river is obviously not going to help. I guess what I'm saying is that the practices didn't seem like they could be rooted in any past success, so I don't understand why they would have survived as treatments.

I'm probably over-thinking it. It was an entertaining novel and, like the author's first novel, [Burial Rites], I liked it enough to keep reading this author's work. If anyone else reads this, I'll be curious to hear what you think! ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 30, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
While holding few surprises, The Good People is a gripping, adept and intelligent reconstruction of the past. As in Burial Rites, although perhaps without quite the same force, Kent brings her sympathetic, detailed eye to the cramped lives of ordinary women before the dawn of any concept of individual women's rights.
 
The empathy Kent has for her characters is intense, and she affords them nuance and complexity: there is merit and fault in each of them. The confusion, incomprehension and torment the three central women suffer in the novel’s final act are keenly rendered.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hannah Kentprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harms, LaurenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lennon, CarolineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
When all is said and done, how do we not know but that our own unreason ay be better than another's truth?
for it has been warmed on our hearts and in our souls,
and is ready for the wild bees of truth to hive in it, and
make their sweet honey. Come into the world again,
wild bees, wild bees!

W.B.Yeats, The Celtic Twilight
Dedication
For my sister, Briony.
First words
Nóra’s first thought when they brought her the body was that it could not be her husband’s.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
The maid's face was unreadable. 'She was your daughter,' she said plainly.
'She was.' 'You loved her.' 'The first time I saw Johanna...' Nora's voice was strangled. She wanteld to say that with Johanna's birth she had felt a love so fierce it terrified. That the wordt had cleft and her daughter was the kernel at its core. 'Yes,' she said. 'I loved her.' 'As I loved my sisters.' Nora shook her head. 'TIS IS MORE THAN LOVE. YOU WILL KNOW IT SOME DAY. TO BE A MOTHER IS TO HAVE YOUR HEART CUT OUT AND PLACED IN IN YOUR CHILD.4 p 181
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

No library descriptions found.

Book description
In the year 1825, in a remote valley lying between the mountains of south-west Ireland, near the Flesk river of Killarney, three women are brought together by strange and troubling events.

Nòra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheal. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference.

Unable to care for the child alone, Nora hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow's house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheal. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said the old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken.
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4)
0.5
1
1.5
2 3
2.5 4
3 23
3.5 10
4 60
4.5 17
5 31

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 142,310,464 books! | Top bar: Always visible