In Burial Rites, a sensual, quiet novel based on true events from early 19th-century Iceland, a housemaid is convicted of brutally murdering her master. Agnes is a sympathetic if mysterious character; abandoned in childhood and forced to fend for herself in progressively impoverished conditions, she has known only struggle. While awaiting execution, she’s sent to live with a humble country family and counseled by a young priest. Slowly, she reveals the sad path of her life leading up to her master’s death. Kent weaves together rich imagery and evocative period detail, ensuring readers feel the cold of the Icelandic winter, the pain and fear in Agnes’ heart, and the bitingly unfair treatment of the poor and condemned.
Fiction: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
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