The Good People

3.83 based on 3617 ratings & 605 reviews on Goodreads.com
Picador

Publication date: 07.09.2017
ISBN: 9781447233367
Number of pages: 400

Synopsis

Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize 2017

County Kerry, Ireland, 1825.

Nóra, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot speak and cannot walk and Nóra is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive?

Mary arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley.

Nance's knowledge keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer. Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheál.

As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheál, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.

Based on true events and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People is Hannah Kent's startling novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers.

In the media

Kent's immersion and passion for her subject is evident - even the cadence of the characters' speech in the novel is exact and authentic
Irish Independent
The Good People is a novel about how competing systems of thought - religious, medical, folkloric and, eventually, legal - attempt to make sense of the bad stuff that happens. Significantly, the novel is set in a valley, a place cut off from the outside world. The community – and the novel – feels claustrophobic. The characters are trapped in their crucible of mutterings and gossip by a combination of geography, ancestry and poverty. It is to Kent’s credit that she never passes judgment on her protagonists’ beliefs, even as they lead them to ever more extreme, even insane, behaviour . . . Kent has a terrific feel for the language of her setting. The prose is richly textured with evocative vocabulary – skib, spancel, creepie stool . . . the overall result is to transport the reader deep into the rural Irish hinterlands. This is a serious and compelling novel about how those in desperate circumstances cling to ritual as a bulwark against their own powerlessness
Guardian
Hannah Kent has terrific form as a historical novelist - her highly acclaimed debut, Burial Rites, set in a 19th-century Icelandic village, was shortlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction. This novel, based on a true story, is even better. As the tale slowly builds, Kent creates an immersive, startlingly lyrical portrait of a time when the borders between logic and superstition were dangerously porous and where the Catholic church is determined to strengthen its grip . . . thrillingly alive to the dynamic of poor, close-knit communities, where fear of the outsider trumps reason and compassion
Metro
Hannah explains how an intriguing story that she discovered in a nineteenth-century newspaper inspired The Good People