Thursday, October 30, 2014

AuThursday: Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites"

Based on a true story,  Burial Rites tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir.  Agnes is a murderer. She has killed a man and will be executed for his death. Until the final judgment comes from Copenhagen, she is thrust upon a small farm family to be taken care of until justice can be served. It is there with the help of Assistant Reverend Toti that her life story unfolds.

The opening quote, "I was worst to the one I loved best,"  sets the stage for all of the events to come. This is a novel where the setting is almost a character in the story - the long winter, the midnight sun, the isolation of the farms really influenced the actions in the story, manipulating the characters into specific situations, forcing them to interact or be alone. The characters were rich, too - round with detail and realistic actions. The author didn't spare Agnes from scandal or poor decision making. She was a real person; she made real mistakes. Hannah Kent's note at the end, detailing the research she had done and the inspiration for the story, bolsters the novel's realism. Agnes Magnusdottir was a real person, the last person to be executed for a crime in Iceland. I finished the book wanting to know more about Agnes, more about Iceland. That is truly the mark of a good book.

The Grand Forks Book Club met at Andrea's house to eat cheesy wild rice soup, homemade salsa, and cherry pie.  Everyone enjoyed some aspects of the book - the lyricism, the realism, the pacing.  There was quite a bit to talk about.

For November, we will be reading Son by Lois Lowry, the last book in the Giver series.  We also choose Bomb by Steve Sheinken for December and will meet on Pearl Harbor day to discuss it.