Hannah Kent’s astonishing novel Burial Rites has been announced as the Waterstones 11 title for September 2013, a promotion is designed to uncover and champion the very best debut fiction.
During the trial, they plucked at my words like birds. Dreadful birds, dressed in red with breast of silver buttons, and cocked heads and sharp mouths, looking for guilt like berries on a bush . . . Everything I said was taken from me and altered until the story wasn’t my own.
So gripping I wanted to rush through the pages, but so beautifully written I wanted to linger over every sentence. Hannah Kent's debut novel is outstanding.Burial Rites is an accomplished gem, its prose as crisp and sparkling as its northern setting.
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover.
Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office 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, as the family’s attitude towards her starts to change, they realize 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?
Here's some of the fantastic praise that the novel has had already:
‘A compelling read, heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure. Hannah Kent's gorgeous and haunting Burial Rites will touch your heart’ Anne Berry, author of The Hungry Ghosts
Read an extract from Burial Rites here
‘Hannah Kent has crafted a genre all her own. Burial Rites is both a compelling thriller and a profound meditation on a mythic landscape’ Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean