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Burial Rites Audiobook

Burial Rites

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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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (140 )
5 star
 (65)
4 star
 (51)
3 star
 (15)
2 star
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1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.2 (127 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.6 (127 )
5 star
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3 star
 (11)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Georgina W. 10-11-15
    Georgina W. 10-11-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautifully written."
    What did you love best about Burial Rites?

    Based on a true story. Described Iceland countryside. A bleak, sad book but absolutely fascinating.


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

    Her execution.


    Which character – as performed by Morven Christie – was your favorite?

    The main character.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    San Rafael, CA 04-06-14 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    94
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow, maudlin, w overly earnest, breathy narration"
    What would have made Burial Rites better?

    More social history. More plot. Less trite characters.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Hannah Kent again?

    No


    Would you be willing to try another one of Morven Christie’s performances?

    No


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I had thought the novels depiction of atypical time and place would be interesting; It wasn't.


    Any additional comments?

    In fairness, I could only get through half the book. I almost always finish books hoping they'll get better but in this case I made an exception.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Nadina Vasileva
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Atmospheric and haunting"

    Beautifully written book, which transports the reader into Iceland in 1830. The haunting description of the Icelandic lifestyle and the atmospheric writing weaves an intricate net around the reader. The enchanting half-darkness of the long winter fills you with the sense of impending doom and dread of what is to happen. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys beautiful language and a well written book.

    3 of 3 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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Gill
    Tamworth, United Kingdom
    5/28/15
    Overall
    Story
    "Disappointed"

    A good story spoilt by the annoying woman who read the book, she kept dropping her voice, could not wait to finish the book for all the wrong reasons. :-( very disappointed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • 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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    2/14/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Evocative and moving story"

    A true story of a murder that happened in the early 19th century woven into a lyrical evocation of the hard life of rural Iceland at that time. It took me a while to get into the book as it is full of unfamiliar names and locations. Also I found the switching back and forth confusing between the events surrounding the murder and those later when Agnes was awaiting her fate. Agnes was one of the three servants accused of murdering their employer. In time the characters did come to life as the sad story of Agnes unfolded.

    The details of the crime are gradually revealed: this is not a fast-paced narrative, instead it is a beautifully written book full of the atmosphere of the country and the social attitudes of the time that kept, Agnes, a woman of spirit and talent in servitude. Much research has evidently gone into the book’s creation.

    At the end of the recording their is an epilogue in which the author gives details of how she researched the material for the book and some of the background to the story. I would have found this material more useful at the start of the book as it would have helped in the understanding of what followed

    The narrator adds to the pleasure with her sensitive rendition of the text.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rhomany
    Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
    1/16/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning"

    Incredibly well written, almost gothic in tone. You feel like you're standing in the frigid, rocky winter shores of Iceland by the time you're a few chapters in, and by the end I was desperate for the ending to miraculously change, despite knowing Agnes' fate from the outset.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia
    Kingsbridge, United Kingdom
    6/30/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hard going"

    I bought this book a while ago and gave up on it because it made me feel quite depressed. Anyway, the sun is out, it's summer, so I thought I'd give it another go....
    Despite skipping quite a few passages, in an attempt to move things on, I found it an ordeal. Morven Christie is an excellent narrator and I take my hat to her for being so fluent with all those long Icelandic names ...but, Lord it's a dreary tale.

    3 of 4 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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Edinburgh
    2/24/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent descriptions of time and place "

    Descriptions of the hardship and squalor made for uncomfortable reading. The harsh reality of life in Iceland in 1825 was painted vividly by the excellent story telling; thank goodness for forensics of today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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