Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review : Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Title : Burial Rites
Author : Hannah Kent
Publication date : September 10th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company

It might sounds a bit weird but I came to this book because of a movie. I was exhausted at work and even convinced that I hate it, so I approached Google, our good friend and searched for "movies to watch if you hate your job". 

And I watched this: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and magically. I felt so much better. Maybe it is because I actually made time to laugh at myself, I don't know but that movie was good for my mind.

And some of the scenes were set in Iceland. As a tropical gal, I always admire Iceland. It's a totally different world compared to where I live. You know, when you're used to having the sun all year, you're bound to admire the snow, or the fjords or the northern light. We don't have 'em here.

Again, I began to search for "books that set in Iceland" and Burial Rites is at the top of the list. Unfortunately, the list is extremely short, if you know any other books that set in Iceland, please let me know! I am still obsessed with that snowy country. And I even wonder if the people could be as witty as in the book.
"Makes you think, doesn't it, Jon? We could do with another cow."
"We could do with many more things."
"Another cow would be nice though. The extra butter. We could afford another hand for harvest."
"In good time, Margret, love."
"In good time I'll be dead."
Burial Rites is a story about the last woman in Iceland that faced death penalty, Agnes Magnusdottir. She was sentenced to death for murder of two men. Waiting for execution date, Agnes was sent to a farm owner family where she was regularly visited by a priest to help her repent. Day by day went by and Agnes started revealing each and every layer of the tragedy.

Agnes already got my sympathy as I read the first chapter. The author portrayed her as a very understanding woman. From her voice, it never crossed my mind that she was actually capable of murdering a man, let alone two. Agnes delivered a very sorrowful story and Kent created a ridiculously vivid description of 18th century Icelandic village that make the book even more chilling. Oh, and also the fact that one of the victim was the village's sweetheart making it harder for Agnes to get fair treatment.
The famous Natan Ketilsson, a man who could bleed the sap of sickness from the limbs of the ill, who had been with the famous Poet-Rosa, who had heard the bells of Copenhagen, and taught himself Latin - an extraordinanry man, a saga man - had chosen me. For the first time in my life, someone saw me, and I loved him because he made me feel I was enough.
If I didn't dig deeper, I'd never know that Burial Rites is a debut. It is beautifully crafted that I wish I could give it more than 5 rating. It's haunting, it made me doubt about the necessity of death penalty, it is simply remarkable. Read it now, you won't regret it, I promise.

Enough blabbering, I'd like to know about what you read. Have you ever read any novel set in Iceland? What is the last historical fiction book you read? Do you like it?