Book Discussion: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

Its time to discuss another book! Now before I start to talk about this book, I have something else to say. So, I said that I am going to try to write about every book that I read for the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge. If you don’t know what that is, I am going to link the Goodreads group for this challenge here for you to check out. Last week’s theme was to read a book that was either nominated for or won the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015. For this one, I read the graphic novel The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, which was nominated for Graphic Novels and Comics. I didn’t really want to write anything about it because I didn’t have much to say. So, I skipped that. And for this week, the theme is to read a book by an author I discovered in 2015. I read Burial Rites because I learned about this book and this author towards the end of last year and I really, really wanted to read it soon. I finally read it and here are my thoughts.

Goodreads 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?

This book was so hard to get through. Its not because it was boring! It was not! But its because of the subject matter that it dealt with. I was never comfortable during the whole duration of the book. I was out of my element and the book reminded me that again and again. I had so many thoughts while I was reading that book that I had to take notes so that I do not forget them. Also, this story was about such a strange topic and in such a unique setting! I know nothing about Iceland and I have never read any book that’s set there. So, this book was definitely informative in a way.

Since it started, the book had a very dark atmosphere, for obvious reasons. It was a gritty and almost depressing setting even though the story started in spring season. There are such elaborate descriptions of the dirt and filth of the nature and of people that it became almost like a theme in the book. I didn’t completely understand it but I recognized it. There is also that sense of mystery about what actually happened. The book was compelling but slow at the same time. I couldn’t find a single fault with it.

The characters in the book were very different. Each and every one of them were complex and we didn’t get to see all of their shades in the book. The author herself described Agnes as an ambiguous woman but I think all the rest of the characters were ambiguous too! Even Lauga. And the book focused heavily on this aspect of human behavior. None of the characters were revealed. It is somehow like Paper Towns by John Green in this aspect, where one of the murdered person, Natan, was constructed simply through what people said about him. Even Agnes was described that way and even though we read from her perspective, she didn’t reveal much about herself. Steina, who is shown in the book as a simpleton, or even Sigga, didn’t fully reveal themselves. It was really interesting and amazing at the same time. And it was, obviously, incredibly heartbreaking and haunting. It is unnecessary to describe why.

There are a lot of things that I can say about this book. But I don’t want to make this post any longer. The book was amazing and it made me cry. I would highly recommend it. But there are some mature contents in this book, so don’t read it if you are not prepared to deal with them. Have you read this book? Please tell me in the comments. Thank you so much for reading this! Until next time then!

Fin!

My rating- 5/5.

My Goodreads rating- 5/5.

-Sanchita.

 

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