Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jackie's Spotlight On Debut Fiction, Part 2

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men. Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes.
Only Tóti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as he attempts to salvage her soul.

As the summer months fall away to winter and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s ill-fated tale of longing and betrayal begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn’t she?

Based on a true story, Burial Rites is a deeply moving novel about personal freedom: who we are seen to be versus who we believe ourselves to be, and the ways in which we will risk everything for love.

In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, where 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?

Jackie says:
"I do love debut authors--it's fun to be among the first to find a truly wonderful writer.  I had my doubts about this book--a woman waiting on execution in 1828 Iceland really didn't seem like my cup of tea.  However, the book had already started generating some buzz, so I gave it a go...and had a terrible time putting it down.  This is a very atmospheric and dark book, with guilt, innocence, class and women's issues as well as draconian punishment/"justice".  I felt the cold of the land and the people, with every page turned.  This is based on a true story, and the historical facts have been very carefully curated to move the story along.    This is an impressive debut of a marvelous storyteller and an author to keep your eye out for in the future."

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