Burial Rites

Burial Rites - Hannah Kent In 1829 Agnes Magnusdottir, was convicted of killing her former employer (and part time lover) and his friend. Without the availability of a prison to house female inmates Agnes is sentenced to await her execution on a local farm. Although the family is, understandably, reluctant to have Agnes under their roof they find it, surprisingly, not as uncomfortable or threatening as they had feared. While on the farm Agnes has a court ordered spiritual advisor in the form of a very young Reverend Toti. Between her conversations with the priest and the halting friendship of the farmer’s wife the reader hears Agnes’ story.

I understand this is Ms. Kent’s first book. All I can say is “Wow … what a way to start!” Having done her research to ensure that the book is historically correct, she then gives Agnes a beautiful voice with which to tell her very poignant story. Of course this is work of historical fiction so dialogue was invented and the thoughts of other people involved in Hannah’s life were at the discretion of Ms. Kent – and this is exactly where Ms. Kent won me over. The author wove history, research and imagination into a book that I found difficult to put down. Despite already knowing the outcome … spoiler alert if you have not read any previous reviews … that Agnes Magnusdottir was the last woman to be executed in Iceland, I was compelled to keep reading to the very last page. While definitely not an uplifting book, it was a compelling read.