I don’t intend to review this, as I did not finish it. After an engaging start, I got bogged down in the middle and could not get going again, despite several attempts.
I still think she’s a great writer, but the tweeness of the spoken language (all the ’tis and ’twas and Irish historic dialect) was a bit much for me.
I believe mine is a minority view, and that people largely thoroughly enjoyed it.
I loved her debut novel. Below is the review I wrote when it was released in September 2013, published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine.
Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
Young Australian author Hannah Kent’s debut novel – based on the true story of the execution of a woman accused of double murder in Iceland in 1829 – has created a major buzz in publishing circles. For once, this is a book worthy of all the hype.
Agnes Magnusdottir, abandoned as a child and brought up as a servant, is working at a remote farm when she is accused of murdering two men, one of them her employer and lover.
Her two co-accused are a fellow servant, a pretty teenage girl who had also been sleeping with her employer, and the girl’s fiance. When they are convicted, Agnes is sent to work for a local family until the date she is to be beheaded.
Initially ostracised, she finds grudging acceptance, revealing gradually the details of her upbringing and life, and what really happened in that isolated cottage. Kent’s extensive research about Agnes and her life shows on every page.
You can almost breathe the suffocating atmosphere of rural life in Iceland in the early 1800s – the lethal cold, the poverty, the hard work, the vicious gossip, the simple brutalities. A
gnes is as real a character as I have read, and her final journey moved me to tears. Brilliant historical fiction.