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Burial Rites: The BBC Between the Covers Book Club Pick

Burial Rites: The BBC Between the Covers Book Club Pick by Hannah Kent

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By Hannah Kent

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3 reviews

BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick!

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who is charged with the brutal murder of her former master.

Inspired by a true story, Burial Rites is perfect for fans of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

- The Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist
- The Guardian First Book Award Shortlist
- The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards Shortlist

Iceland, 1829 – Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the murder of her lover.

Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer 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’s 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’s 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?

‘Outstanding’ – Madeline Miller

‘Sublime’ – Sunday Telegraph

‘One of the most gripping, intriguing and unique books I’ve read this year’ – Kate Mosse


09 Apr 2020

St Regulus AJ

This book is a tough read. Set in Iceland, it tells a tale of the last woman to be beheaded for murder in this remote, strange country. But did she do it and was her punishment deserved? At times I found this read difficult, but I was hooked and had to carry on. Well deserving of its literary fame.

08 Feb 2016

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The Blackheath library reading group met on Monday 12th May to discuss 'Burial rutes' . Everyone found the book an astonisting read. The general feeling was that the book captured the handship of living in the bleak, dark and unforgiving Icelandic climate perfectly. Most of us felt that the Icelandic location was almost like a major character in the novel - setting the tone , pace and feeling of the story. The description of everyday life was moving and very believable. The way the characters were developed are beautifully crafted - particularly how Agnes interacts with the family on the farm. There was a real sense of place and time conveyed. We were really able to feel for Agnes and the sense of doom hanging over her was almost difficult to read.
we all agreed that the novel deserved to be short listed for the Bailey's award and would be a worthy winner.

06 Feb 2015

Burial Rites is a beautiful and atmospheric book. Set in the nineteenth century the novel is inspired by the true life story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland for her part in a murder. The writing is pure and dazzling like the snow. The author paints a poignant and human face to the doomed Agnes. All the characters tight emotions are explored in a realistic and skillful manner. Day to day mundane events are brought to life on the page. A truly remarkable novel that has the power to move and stay with the reader even after finishing-the book.

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