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Burial Rites : Shortlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize - Hannah Kent

Burial Rites

Shortlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize

Paperback

Published: 1st March 2014
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Winner Of The 2014 Indie Awards Debut Fiction Of The Year
Winner Of The Victorian Premier's Literary Award People's Choice Award 2014
Winner Of The Faw Christina Stead Award 2014
Winner Of The Aba Nielson Bookdata Booksellers' Choice Award 2014
Shortlisted For The Stella Prize 2014
Shortlisted For The Baileys Women's Prize For Fiction 2014
Shortlisted For The Victorian Premier's Literary Award For Fiction 2014
Shortlisted For The Abia Literary Fiction Book Of The Year 2014
Shortlisted For The Als Gold Medal 2014
Shortlisted For The Guardian First Book Award 2013
Shortlisted For The Nib Waverley Award For Literature 2013


In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men.

Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes' spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as he attempts to salvage her soul. As the summer months fall away to winter and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes' ill-fated tale of longing and betrayal begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn't she?

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. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland's formidable landscape, where every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Read Caroline Baum's Review:

This book stinks, in a good way. Of fish and blood and guts and unwashed bodies and earth and death.

In fact, it reeks of those things and more. This austere love letter to Iceland takes a true story of murder as its foundation. Based on records from the trial of the two women and one man convicted of killing and burning two men on a remote farm this is richly and darkly imagined in prose thick with atmospherics.

Kent is a precocious talent who understands how to animate research and transform it into compelling narrative. She shows mature prowess in creating the life of her central character, Agnes, one of the accused, a fierce woman with pale blue eyes who spends the last few weeks of her life re-examining the circumstances that brought her to her fate.

The assistant priest who comes to give her counsel is soon tormented by the spectre of Agnes' execution, as are the family she lives with in her final weeks. A scene in which they all make sausages together, up to their elbows in blood and guts, is particularly visceral and vivid.

This book comes with heavy industry hype, having earned an unusually high advance for a first novel. So many books burdened with extreme expectations fizzle out and are soon forgotten, fated to be embarrassing items on their publisher's balance sheet. I doubt this will happen to Burial Rites, which delivers a chilly story of brutality steeped in authentic detail that fills every sense. After reading it, you'll be extra grateful for that hot bath and nice cup of tea.

About the Author

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnusdottir. Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. Burial Rites is her first novel.

BOOKTOPIA INTERVIEW: HANNAH KENT ANSWERS BOOKTOPIA'S TEN TERRIFYING QUESTIONS - CLICK HERE

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Burial Rites
 
4.6

(based on 8 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (5)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Engaging characters (7)
  • Well written (7)
  • Page turner (6)
  • Suspenseful (4)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Gift (4)
    • Older readers (4)
    • Travel reading (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Everyday reader (6)

    Reviewed by 8 customers

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    5.0

    remarkable historical story in Iceland

    By Ruth

    from Melbourne

    About Me Everyday Reader

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Deserves Multiple Readings
    • Engaging Characters
    • Page Turner
    • Suspenseful
    • Well Written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Gift
      • Older Readers
      • Travel Reading

      Comments about Burial Rites:

      This is an amazing book - to have been written by a young Australian woman about Iceland, on the other side of the world.
      The story carries you along.

      Comment on this review

       
      5.0

      Beautiful, impressive writing

      By Quiet Reader

      from Newcastle, NSW.

      About Me Everyday Reader

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Engaging Characters
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about Burial Rites:

          This book had excellent reviews, but I thought the topic would be grim. It took courage to start reading, but I soon realised that the author's way of presenting the story was exceptionally interesting, using a beautiful writing style. I was glad to have read the book.

          Comment on this review

           
          4.0

          Surprisingly good

          By Sam

          from Perth

          About Me Everyday Reader

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Engaging Characters
          • Page Turner
          • Suspenseful
          • Well Written

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Gift
            • Older Readers
            • Travel Reading
            • Younger Readers

            Comments about Burial Rites:

            I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it is very well written and a great page turner

            Comment on this review

             
            4.0

            A good read

            By HP

            from Adelaide

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Engaging Characters

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Gift
              • Travel Reading

              Comments about Burial Rites:

              It was a good read. Incited interest about the historical events

              Comment on this review

               
              5.0

              Amazing

              By Lalli

              from merimbula

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Page Turner
              • Suspenseful
              • Well Written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Gift
                • Older Readers

                Comments about Burial Rites:

                This is a well researched book which holds the interest of the reader from beginning to end,. Even though the end result is known from the outset one cannot help but hope for a different outcome. The characters are from another time and the living conditions were basic .The book reminded me of another favorite of mine Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

                Comment on this review

                 
                5.0

                Amazing read

                By Megsy

                from Melbourne

                About Me Everyday Reader

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Engaging Characters
                • Page Turner
                • Well Written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about Burial Rites:

                    I loved this book, I could feel the bitter cold of Iceland, smell the stench of death and poverty,and feel the hopelessness and despair some of the characters experienced. A time in history so far removed from my world, an insight into a time long ago where rules were often cruel and unfair but the kindness of strangers was there to give hope.

                    Comment on this review

                     
                    4.0

                    Haunting, sad, imagine it as a movie

                    By Mezza

                    from Hobart, AU

                    About Me Everyday Reader

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Engaging Characters
                    • Page Turner
                    • Well Written

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Older Readers

                      Comments about Burial Rites:

                      I wasn't sure about this book when I started reading it, but as I progressed through, I found it very hard to put down, I really wanted to see what happens in the end to the main character. This book is hauntingly sad, though provoking and slightly educational. It is not an easy 'whatever' type of read. My only issue was the hard to pronounce names and locations due to the country it happened in, I am so glad that the Author explained this at the beginning! As I read this book, I could fully see it being made as a movie!

                      Comment on this review

                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Couldn't Put it Down

                      By The Constant Reader

                      from Melbourne, AU

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Pros

                      • Engaging Characters
                      • Page Turner
                      • Suspenseful
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                          Comments about Burial Rites:

                          What a book and what a story! The fact that its based on a true story makes it even more compelling. I was immersed in this book. Hanna Kent's description of the protagonist Agnus Magnusdottir, the Icelandic setting and characters just made me live and breath the life of 1800s iceland. Kent is an amazing writer. I didn't want this book to end.

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                          ISBN: 9781743516966
                          ISBN-10: 1743516967
                          Audience: General
                          Format: Paperback
                          Language: English
                          Number Of Pages: 352
                          Published: 1st March 2014
                          Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
                          Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0  x 2.2
                          Weight (kg): 0.27