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
Living and learning one story at a time :)
Yes, I'd like to listen again to pick up on some of the smaller details/descriptions
Agnes, the character really drew me in.
Agnes. Morven Christie is an amazing performer. As Agnes her often breathy tone really brought across the feeling of despair. All of the characters are done well. You hardly notice a change in her voice yet it sounds like different people are reading.
Hmm not sure.
I bought this book purely based on the fact that Morven Christie was the narrator. I hadn't heard of it before and probably wouldn't have given it a second glance otherwise. I was not at all familiar with the real life event and found this work to be quite surprising and very interesting. I'm now off to google it to learn more :)
This is such a great story...Used a box of tissues. Couldn't stop listening! Loved the characters! Could feel the harshness of the environment. Will listen again...
I really wanted to like this book. It may be me ... I just can't tolerate the narration. The narration was described in one review as haunting but it's more like a half-asleep, depressed, numbing and out of body combination. I tried several times and the more I listened, the more depressed I felt. And yes I understand the subject matter is sad, the landscape is bleak ....it does fit the book. I did listen to the sample, but I failed to consider the number of hours I would spend wrapped in it's "mood". The narrator may be a great narrator for other books - she has a soothing, pretty voice, good diction. This combination just didn't work for me. I thought I would enjoy the book based on reviews. The story may be great - it sounded really interesting and I liked the premise of the story - I'd like to know what happens, but unless I find the time to read it in print, I'll never know.
Undoubtedly. The story itself, though well written is a bit disappointing. There is a lot of build up but it doesn't end up leading anywhere. I might not have continued to the end if it weren't for the wonderful narration.
The detail of life in 1800's Iceland was infinitely more interesting than the story itself.
EVERYTHING. This is actually the second book I have bought from Audible with Morven Christie narrating, though I didn't notice at first as the other performance was very different and in a Scottish accent. Each character's voice is distinct and clear, when they story says they sound tired or anxious, they do. I will definitely be listening to any future offerings by this narrator.
I cannot write a review that can do this book justice. This is what goes through my head:
* I am so happy I give few books five stars, because then when I run into a book this good my five star rating means something!
* You need a strong stomach for this book. I have warned you.
* Once you start you will not be able to read or do anything else.
* There is NO humor in this book. I always need humor, except NOT here. Don't ask me why! I just didn't need it. I was riveted from start to finish. I needed to understand the relationships that lie at the core of what happened. I was so focused on understanding the why, I didn't have any need for humor. Humor simply doesn't belong in this book. This is Nordic historical fiction of times long past - there is hunger and cold and darkness. That is the way it was. And people living in such difficult times did such twisted things.
* The book is NOT spooky, it is atmospheric.
* The writing! Similes, metaphors - they are all just perfect. Stunning writing.
* You will be moved. Jeez, at the end...... No, not just at the end, all the way through.
* And this is very important. Do not read this book. Please, if you possibly can, listen to it. The narration by Morven Christie is totally fantastic. The Icelandic is perfect. The tempo is slow and it must be slow, so you can think about what is being said, so you feel the doom and darkness of the events. This is an excellently written book AND excellently narrated. BOTH!
Phew, after this I don't want another Nordic drama for a long time. My emotions cannot take it. I have been through a wringer with this one.
I assume you have read the book description, so you know that this story is based on true events. There is a chapter at the end that explains all the research involved. The author closely follows what is known. There are different views of Agnes' behavior, but the author has totally convinced my of what her study of the facts have lead her to believe.
This is one of the best books I have read/listened to this year.
I have listened to half now. I still absolutely love it. It has love too. One of the few authors that can feed me a love story and please me immensely. I am convinced Agnes did not kill the man she is accused of killing. But history says she is beheaded for this reason. Remember this is Nordic historical fiction! Now I will say no more. I don't know what will happen in the rest of the book, so I cannot possibly give a spoiler.
You read this book for the marvelous atmosphere and the lines. Gorgeous lines! A superb writer.
After 6 chapters:
This book is beautifully written. Atmospheric. Nordic historical fiction at its best. The narration by Morven Christie is wonderful too. Don't read it, listen to it. I have only listened to 6 chapters, but there is no way this book can get anything but 5 stars.
Hannah Kent is Australian, mentored by Geraldine Brooks! This book is far better than any I have read by Geraldine Brooks, and I am not disparaging Brooks when I say that.
I was taken in by the main character and wanted to hear her story as much as she wanted to tell it.
I could have cried when Agnes realized what kind of man Natan was.
I enjoyed the two girls and the way they gave some relief from the intensity and bleakness of the novel.
Margret. I would like to hear more of her thoughts. She also had a death sentence of a different kind.
I love Hannah Kent's writing and this is beautifully performed - the pronunciation of the Icelandic words brought them so much more to life than when I read it. Highly recommended
Avid listener - when I drive, do home chores, lie in the hammock under the tree...
Intelligent sensitive storytelling... I could not put it down. Narrated with the necessary understanding and sensitivity. Highly recommended.
Got very caught up in this. It's amost hypnotic at times. Praps not the best choice if you are in low mood though.
"I wish I could log books in and out"
Perhaps unfair but I just could not get absorbed enough to want to know what happens next. I may try again in a few weeks when I have a lazy afternoon ahead.
The performance was good. The style was appropriate, I should not really comment on the story as I did not get into it.
Don't get put off, it may be I was just tired but I find that a really good book draws you in and does not let you and that was missing for me, perhaps not you.
"A beautiful, atmospheric tale."
This is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. It is a sad, gloomy tale set in a harsh, bleak landscape but, despite this, I was drawn into the story and came to appreciate the beauty of this frozen world, the warmth and humanity of its characters and the hope that somehow things will turn out well for Agnes. Very few books have moved me to tears but this was one of them. It's not an easy or joyful read but I recommend it wholeheartedly .
really interesting and heart wrenching story. not what I'd normally go for but glad I did.
"Brilliant New Author & beautifully written book"
As I have just finished this first work of Hannah Kent, I am left feeling full of warmth and consideration for the Author who wrote the tragic story of Angnes Magnusdottier. fiction based on true events in Iceland in 1829, it tells the story of a wrongly accused woman of a brutal murder. The warmth and humility of the main characters is so beautifully woven into this amazing prose, with perfect use of simile. This book has touched me deeply and I carry's a poignant message about life and death. I loved it and now intend to go to an upcoming book reading by the Author of her latest Novel about Irish folklore.
"Captivating, thought provoking and tragic..."
I have never come across this story before so did not know what to expect. The book was well narrated and addictive to listen to, what started as a story to listen to as I commuted ended in me being drawn in, eager to find out what happened next.
A story of unfortunate events surrounded by poverty, the story really brings out the smallest details making you imagine what it would be like living in that era.
The twists and turns throughout the story keeps you in the dark a little, waiting in anticipation, and you cannot guess what happens next. I highly recommend, you will not be disappointed.
Morven Christie's voice perfectly suits the serene tone of the book and immerses you - you are Agnes, whilst listening to this beautifully tragic story.
So atmospheric...just let the narration wash over you...powerful right up to the end. Loved it
"Icelandic historical love story"
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book, finding out about what life was like for farmers in the 1800s. it was very well read although slow it matched the detail of the weather and bleak landscapes well. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the views close to the sea, wonderful detail and very easy to imagine.
"The love of a cold place"
This is quite beautifully written. An insight into the time and the life these people lead. An fair reflection on how events and a persons life may have played out.
It's well read. The slow pace allowing one to take everything and dwell on these peoples equally laborious lives.
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