Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent

Paperback review

Sat, Mar 22, 2014, 01:00

   
 

Book Title:
Burial Rites

ISBN-13:
978-1-4472-3317-6

Author:
Hannah Kent

Publisher:
Picador

Guideline Price:
Sterling7.99

The quality and variety of fiction streaming out of Australia are astonishing. Over the past month I’ve been captivated by three very different books from Down Under: Mark Dapin’s haunted Spirit House , in which a group of Jewish second World War veterans resident in Bondi try to come to terms with their bizarre, traumatic experiences on the Thai-Burma railway; Lesley Jorgensen’s warmhearted, Downton-Abbey-with-Bangladeshis comedy, Cat and Fiddle ; and, most recently, Hannah Kent’s historical debut, Burial Rites . Set in Iceland in 1829, it tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, who is condemned to death for killing her lover. The novel works on several levels,  evoking a chilly northern landscape with painterly skill and peopling it with memorable characters – not least Agnes herself and the young priest charged with preparing her for death – even as it examines the viability of such no tions as compassion, justice and absolute truth. Good on ya, Aussies. Keep ’em coming.

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