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The Good People by Hannah Kent

The Good People (edition 2017)

by Hannah Kent (Author)

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1411085,024 (3.98)13
Title:The Good People
Authors:Hannah Kent (Author)
Info:Picador (2017), Edition: Main Market Ed., 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, Read in 2017, Historical Fiction, NetGalley
Tags:Historical Fiction

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The Good People by Hannah Kent



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The book opens with the death of Nora's husband Martin. Nora is now left to be the sole caretaker of her grandson, a four year old that can neither talk nor walk, screams constantly at night and it hard to pacify. Grief stricken, Nora manages to convince herself that he is not her real grandson but rather a changeling, left in his place by the fairies. She will do anything to get her "real" grandson back. Nance is a healer but is also said to know the ways of the fairies.

It is 1825 in Ireland and superstition and the old ways are still prominent but the local priest is making inroads on the belief patterns of the villagers. Soon these two belief systems will clash and things will never be the same. Atmospherically dark, the subject is dark as well, Kent turns her hand to another true case in the past, and does it ably. Her descriptions, as in her first book, pulls the reader into this dark and tragic time. Grief can take many turns and in this book the one it takes is quite horrible and not easy to read. Yet, her writing and her prose is once again outstanding, though I did feel at times it was somewhat overdone. Also found it repetitive in some instances and felt at times that this hindered the storytelling and the pace.

It is, however, another unforgettable book, an impactful one, not easy to forget. The Wonder, has the same darkness and the Irish setting though not the same subject and The Stolen child, is another book that deals with changeling and fairies. If you liked either of those, one should also find much to admire in this, I did. Can't quite get it out of my head.

ARC from publisher.
Publishes in the US in September by Little, Brown. ( )
1 vote Beamis12 | Apr 1, 2017 |
The Good People by Hannah Kent takes us to a remote valley in south-west Ireland in 1825. Times are hard, crops fail, people sicken, babies die, and despite the insistence of the local priest that the old ways are pagan and forbidden, many attribute their misfortunes to the Good People, the fairies.
It is in these hard times that three women come together. Nóra Leahy, who, within the space of a year, has lost first her daughter and then her husband, and now is burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál, who has changed from a lively energetic two-year-old to a helpless child unable to walk or speak. Mary Clifford, a fourteen-year-old girl who Nóra hires to help care for Micheál, and becomes her eyes and ears in the village, where people whisper of otherworldly interference in his condition. And Nance Roche, a herbalist and a healer, who is reputed to be able to commune with the Good People, and is Nora’s only hope in her quest to get her grandson back.
This book is utterly absorbing. Kent has built a truly believable world, where the hardship and turmoil of the times immerses the reader and draws them into Nóra’s life. Her tragedies are very real, and her obsession with finding a cure for her grandson heartbreaking. The dynamics between the villagers is expertly exposed and the suspicion and mistrust of this closely bound community, whose fear of the unknown is fuelled by the priest, Father Healy, is countered brilliantly by their desperate need for answers to their problems and a cure for their ailments. Told from the point of view of each of the three women, the story unfolds at a natural pace, the rising tension keeping the reader on edge and burning the midnight oil.
Highly recommended.
Review first published on my blog http://sonyaspreenbates.wordpress.com . ( )
  ssbates | Mar 10, 2017 |
I would like to thank Picador for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

The Good People is an engaging, emotional, and at times an uncomfortable read. It's beautifully written and pulls the reader into a world that oozes atmosphere and superstition. I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was there, that I knew these people and was a part of their world. A world that was so easily pictured, right down to the smallest of leaves on the trees, the ripples on the water, and the smells in the air. I could see everything clearly as I read. The characters felt real to me. I felt their pain, I lived, hoped, dreamed, and struggled alongside them.

I particularly loved the lore and superstition surrounding the faeries. The belief that illness, bad crop yields, and animals not producing were because of the faeries being angered, and the way daily rituals were carried out to protect harvests, households, families, and to keep food on the table, totally captivated me. I have fond memories of my grandparents doing similar things for the "wee folk". I remember as a child making small trinkets and gifts to leave around the farm for the wee folk, pouring fresh milk from the goats into a bowl on the doorstep, and also leaving out honey and oatcakes. I did the same with my own children when they were growing up, they used to leave gifts for the faeries under the tree in the garden.

Definitely, one I would recommend. I will be reading more from this author in the near future. ( )
  Scarlet-Aingeal | Mar 7, 2017 |
This latest book by this young Australian author was definitely MY BEST READ for 2016. Once again she has done remarkable research into the lives of simple uneducated people some two hundred years ago. This story is set in Ireland in 1825 where the people lived very poor lives and where the folklore of the "fairy' or good people" transcended the influence of the Catholic church and the local priest. Grandmother Nora has lost both her husband and daughter and been left to look after her grandson Michael who is a very troubled, disabled three year old. He seems to be suffering from a very severe form of autism or some such syndrome, cannot walk or speak and can only communicate by screaming, wailing and crazy laughter, and must be cared for like a baby. Nora believes that the fairy people have taken her grandson and sent a changeling in his place as a punishment to her. She enlists the help of a local mystery woman, Nance to exorcise this changeling and bring her real grandson back.. In the process of the "treatment" the boy accidentally dies and these two poor ignorant women are tried for murder.
I thought this was an excellent book and that the author really portrayed the poverty, ignorance and hopelessness of the people living in those hard times. ( )
  lesleynicol | Jan 30, 2017 |
Killarney, Ireland, 1825: Nora Leahy is not coping with the care of her frail grandson, Micheal, so hires servant girl Mary, to assist her. Nora brings Mary back to her remote home, where villagers live in both fear and awe of the "Good People" (faery folk) living nearby. The superstitions of these isolated villagers are roused when Nance, the local healer, offers to help with Micheal.
An interesting read which has made me curious to find out more about how herbal medicines were used in this period of history.
  Mercef | Jan 26, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (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.
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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
For my sister, Briony.
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Nóra’s first thought when they brought her the body was that it could not be her husband’s.
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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.
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