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Burial Rites | [Hannah Kent]

Burial Rites

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’ spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’ story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.
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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted – Baileys Women’s Prize 2014

They said I must die. They said that I stole the breaths from men, and now they must steal mine. I imagine, then, that we are all candle flames, greasy-bright, fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me in a grey wreath of smoke.

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’ spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’ story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.

Based on actual events, Burial Rites is an astonishing and moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we’re told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, in which 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?

©2013 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd (P)2013 Hannah Kent

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There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

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  • Maggie Kelly
    Moseley, United Kingdom
    10/22/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Totally enthralling"
    What made the experience of listening to Burial Rites the most enjoyable?

    The author has taken what facts still exist from a haunting story and woven some assumptions around them to make you believe in the characters she creates.


    What about Morven Christie’s performance did you like?

    The reader made what could have been difficult Icelandic pronounciation easy to understand. Her characterisation was good, although sometimes it's not easy to tell when Agnes "retreats" into speaking to herself.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but it's not practical!


    Any additional comments?

    I've recommended this book to several friends.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • T
    ENFIELD, United Kingdom
    10/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent book, strongly recommend it"
    What made the experience of listening to Burial Rites the most enjoyable?

    A beautifully, well researched, deeply atmospheric story read by a lovely, almost true-to-life voice. The story line is factual albeit fictionalised. It reflects the Icelandic society at the time, its prejudices against women and the power held by class and religion, but above all men.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The main character, which was complex and very human.


    Have you listened to any of Morven Christie’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    no, i am not familiar with her work.


    Any additional comments?

    I strongly recommend this very atmospheric book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jennifer
    Frome United Kingdom
    9/4/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mesmerising stuff"
    Where does Burial Rites rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is definitely in my top ten; I couldn't switch it off.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author has clearly researched Icelandic history very thoroughly although she wears her learning lightly. The result is that the story has the 'tang' of authenticity. The story is based on real events, although there is nothing dry about the way she has treated it.Woven into the facts is a wonderful story of survival in a harsh climate (both physical and cultural) and the development of understanding and forgiveness.The atmosphere is of unrelenting gloom, but it is so beautifully written that it doesn't get tiring. Underneath the darkness is a slow revelation of the human stories behind the bare facts and the gradual dawning of understanding in the minds of the listeners.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    There is a heartrending scene in which a mother is forced to abandon her child, written from the child's viewpoint, which is so beautifully described it is like poetry.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was fascinated by this book, and stayed awake until the early hours so that I could finish it. I rarely do that.


    Any additional comments?

    The reader is excellent, and pronounces the Icelandic names with great care. This is a high quality performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Katherine
    Winkleigh, United Kingdom
    11/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wow what a book and based on a true story!!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Burial Rites to be better than the print version?

    I've never read the book but the audio version was excellent.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Burial Rites?

    I think the end. It was so moving and I kept saying to myself please don't behead her let her live----


    Have you listened to any of Morven Christie’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No but I think this one is so good I would pick a book just to listen to her voice.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I did a lot of crying.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a very sad book but so well written it was well worth listening to and I will keep it in my library to listen to again next year.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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