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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-04 23:14
Burial Rites
Burial Rites - Hannah Kent

***spoilers ahead****

 

BURIAL RITES is lovely and poignant. The writing is beautiful. Unfortunately, since you know the ending before it happens, it fizzles a bit. Interestingly, I did not feel the same way about Madeline Miller's SONG OF ACHILLES--another novel where the ending is fixed and inevitable. I think this is perhaps because the plot and character changes were somewhat predictable in BURIAL RITES: Agnes is portrayed as a bright, hardworking, unconventionally pretty, sympathetic heroine trapped in her circumstances, and the people who live with her (and care for her) at the end of her life are wary and judgmental but are eventually won over by her relative humanity. These side characters (the farm family at Kornsá, and the assistant reverand), whose points of view are in third-person, are never quite as rich and fleshed-out as Agnes, who speaks in first-person.

 

There are hints at ambiguity that I would have liked to have seen pursued more: Agnes's first-person-internal version of her story is different from what she recounts aloud to Margret. There are hints that she is an unreliable narrator. (Although it's obvious that she also has given up on telling the nuanced truth, which is that she both loved Natan and suffered terrible emotional abuse at his hands.)

 

As I was reading, I even thought there would be an implication of sexual harassment on District Commissioner Blöndal's part--that we'd find that his vindictiveness was based on Agnes rejecting promises of leniency in exchange for sex (and that Siggy had given in, and thus gotten an appeal). None of that came to pass, although it's made clear that being older (in her early 30s) and being intelligent made Agnes seem threatening and evil to the court, where young, pretty, and seemingly simple Siggy was considered more of an innocent victim of her accomplices.

 

Still, this novel is well researched and so evocative of time and place. An accomplished, highly readable debut.

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text 2017-11-09 21:13
The Good People - Hannah Kent
I loved "Burial Rites" and snapped this book up without getting too far into the description.

While I liked the first book better, this one was still a good read.

I like how the author really sets me in the scene. You can really tell that she has done a lot of research on this, as well. Especially if you read the author's note at the end. I also just read that the author picked a mysterious disease for Micheal so it would add to the mystery. I know I was having a hard time just picturing what the heck he had wrong with him.

I had to laugh a few times when those ladies would meet up at the well. The superstitions that they had were hilarious. I'm rolling my eyes now at some of the beliefs.

A really great and entertaining read that had me mesmerized for hours.

Thanks to Little, Brown and Company and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
 
 

 

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review 2017-11-08 23:59
Burial Rites - Hannah Kent

Wow. What an incredibly haunting and tragic read. It was just so chilling.

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review 2017-11-07 17:36
The Good People ★★★★☆
The Good People - Hannah Kent,Caroline Lennon

Nora had always believed herself to be a good woman, a kind woman. But perhaps, she thought, we are good only when life makes it easy for us to be so. Maybe the heart hardens when good fortune is not there to soften it.

 

There is a lot going on in this book, in between the basic plot of what happens when a woman comes to believe that her damaged grandchild is a fairy changeling. It’s an interesting examination of how sincerely held beliefs – superstitious and religious and intellectual and political – can drive and rationalize cruelty. It’s human nature, I think, to want answers to the unknowable and solutions to the unsolvable, and to take action – any action – rather than to accept that sometimes shit just happens. Today, we resort to conspiracy theories about the government and “big pharma” and try chelation and rolfing and cupping and arsenicum and coffee enemas and bloodroot salves. In the Ireland of the 1820’s, they blamed barren women and evil eyes and Good Folk and tried bathing in cow urine and putting ash in their pockets and foxglove and nightshade. Or asking an old woman with The Knowledge to banish the sickly, screaming fairy changeling so their real child could be returned to them.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library, with an excellent performance by Caroline Lennon.

 

 

I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, Square 13: December 25th - Read a book whose protagonist is called Mary, Joseph (or Jesus, if that’s a commonly used name in your culture) or any variations of those names (e.g., Maria or Pepe). In this book, one of the protagonists is a servant girl named Mary, who cares for the sickly child and watches in horror as the attempts to return him to the fairies escalate.

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text 2017-11-05 06:11
Reading progress update: I've read 59 out of 338 pages.
Burial Rites - Hannah Kent
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