The Berkeley Heights Public Library's evening book group read Hannah Kent's 'Burial Rites' for our March 10 discussion. This first novel by Australian author Kent retells the story of the last public execution in Iceland in 1830. The story of Agnes Magnusdottir, a poor servant accused and convicted of murdering her lover and employer, is told partly from Agnes' point of view and is accompanied by some archival documents from the case as well as poetry written by Agnes and another Icelandic poet. The book group members liked the book and found the historic rural Icelandic setting very well described. Obviously the conclusion is known and the character of Agnes and the subject matter are dark and depressing. The rural poverty and the brutally cold weather set a bleak tone to the book, but for fans of historical fiction, this book is very well researched and will interest fans of other Nordic fiction and mysteries. The book will be made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence as Agnes, so check this one out now before the movie drives demand.
The Guardian review of Burial Rites
New York Times review of Burial Rites
Sydney Review of Books review of Burial Rites
Hannah Kent's author page
Literary Iceland, the library's Pinterest board includes photographs about 'Burial Rites'