Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
A Novel

73%

7 Critic Reviews

The constant switching of points of view inevitably attenuates the reader's commitment to Agnes, which is a shame because hers is both the most difficult and the most compelling voice...Nevertheless, Burial Rites is beautiful and compelling, and, with the flaws of a good first novel, it's the announcement of a writer to watch.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
 

About Hannah Kent

See more books from this Author
Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. BURIAL RITES is her first novel.
 
Published September 10, 2013 by Little, Brown and Company. 353 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Computers & Technology. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Burial Rites
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jun 17 2013

Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research— for example, she opens many of the chapters with documents that come directly from archival sources—while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales.

Read Full Review of Burial Rites: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Steven Heighton on Sep 27 2013

So Agnes will remain an enigma, resisting our assumptions and projections, as she has foretold early on: “They will not see me. I will not be there.”

Read Full Review of Burial Rites: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Moss on Aug 30 2013

The constant switching of points of view inevitably attenuates the reader's commitment to Agnes, which is a shame because hers is both the most difficult and the most compelling voice...Nevertheless, Burial Rites is beautiful and compelling, and, with the flaws of a good first novel, it's the announcement of a writer to watch.

Read Full Review of Burial Rites: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by LUCY SCHOLES on Aug 24 2013

Burial Rites is a debut of rare sophistication and beauty – a simple but moving story, meticulously researched and hauntingly told.

Read Full Review of Burial Rites: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jun 17 2013

Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research— for example, she opens many of the chapters with documents that come directly from archival sources—while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales.

Read Full Review of Burial Rites: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Oct 25 2014

The novel isn't seamless—Ms. Kent disrupts its rhythms by awkwardly switching between an omniscient narrator and Agnes's first-person point of view. But it convincingly animates Agnes...

Read Full Review of Burial Rites: A Novel | See more reviews from WSJ online

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Oct 25 2013

Ms. Kent aligns Agnes's hypnotic storytelling with the island's oral tradition. She uses passages from the 13th-century Laxdaela Saga, about a murderous love triangle, while delivering her parallel tale of seduction and betrayal.

Read Full Review of Burial Rites: A Novel | See more reviews from WSJ online

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Ludmila Mayumi Imamura

Ludmila Mayumi Imamura 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list