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REVIEW: BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent

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BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent

RATING : 5/5

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Not even 10 minutes have passed since I read the last page of "Burial Rites" by Hannah Kent, published by Picador here in Australia, and I am already here to put on words my feelings.This book is wonderful! Hannah Kent is a young Australian writer and "Burial Rites" is her debut novel who earned the win of numerous awards.The book told about the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, that is unfortunately based on real events.Her has been the last execution in Iceland along with that of Fridrik Sigurdsson, both charged with the murder of Natan Ketilsoon and Petur Jonsson in 1829.The book is enriched in fact, at the beginning of each chapter , with official records, letters and legal transcriptions.The Icelandic Influeces a lot the reading, with names and places that have been left in the original language and which I assume to be quite difficult to pronounce correctly.I have also listened to the audiobook where the names are being read with the correct pronunciation and that help to make the setting more realistic and reading more smoothly.

"Burial Rites" tells not only the facts of that horrendus night in 1828, but told us mostly about of Agnès.Beautiful with hair blacks such as coal and blue eyes almost transparent.She has always had a hard life.After years of hard work she move to serve in the farm of the herbalist Natan Ketelsoon.Until he and his friend Peter are found brutally murdered and Agnes, along with two other servants, are blamed and condemned to death.With the approaching execution Agnes is moved to a farm in Kornsà where with hard work and prayer, assisted by the young priest Toti, she will have to prepare her soul for the encounter with the Lord.The book is an account of her life, a long and difficult confession that will take us to finally know what happened that night.A book that shows as superstitions and rumors influence the judgment of a person and how at that time (and maybe non only then) they were scared of a good looking and smart woman as Agnes was.Does she really killed Natan?

“It was not hard to believe a beautiful woman capable of murder, thought Margret.How sagas says, Opt er flago the fogru skinni.A witch always have fair skin. “
— Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

This is an intense and thoughtful book.It touched me deeply.The setting and scenery are beautiful, so well described that it contribute to an atmosphere tangible and gloomy, almost feeling the grip of the cold andice on the face, the smell of grass bent by the wind, the fjords and the rough seas.The long evenings by candlelight in badstofa while Agnes tells her story trough flashbacks, revealing the loneliness and sadness that marked her life and her fear of death. Only the acceptance of a cold, hard and lonely life without love and justice.

A story by the incredible delicacy and elegance and the strong emotional power that will make my heart ache.A strong and determined woman, who despite adversity has been going on and tackles strongly her fate.The story is compelling, when you listen to the stories of Agnes that slowly lead you to discover what really happened that night, time passes, and the execution date is getting closer.One would like to know more, but you will also be afraid to find out what will be then. The use of adjectives is extraordinary, the way Agnes describes her feelings is certainly able to evoke in the mind of the reader a clear picture of the moment and this is why you can feel so involved.The prose is incisive and clear and language is direct.Kent do no reserves to describe even the worst of situations clearly.

"Burial Rites" is the story of a woman sentenced to death, her last memories before she "fades into the air and into the night".Agnes is presented as a woman resigned but that has not stopped fighting.Through her stories told ad digressions in the first person we know her in a very intimate way.We know who she is, where she comes from and what she's been up to that point.Her story makes us think that maybe she is not guilty, that perhaps her conviction is not fair. Maybe. Or maybe not.

It is with a heart full of compassion and mercy that we face to read the last part of the book, with a tremendous feeling of inevitability.This book is an astoshing masterpeace ,intense, painful and gripping.

 

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