LIFESTYLE | Burial Rites Review

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent has been on my wishlist for the longest time so I was super psyched to find this in my local British Heart Foundation (I also found White Teeth by Zadie Smith and To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf so it was a fab mini haul!) Everyone raves about it so I was keen to see if it lived up to the hype. I'd also remembered during one of my regular Jennifer Lawrence stalking sessions (I'm not sorry, I know I'm not the only fangirl!) that a film version was apparently in the pipeline so wanted to read it before it potentially comes out. If only I knew of the heartbreak this book would bring me!


Burial Rites Book Review


So we're taken back to 1829 Iceland, a cold and harsh landscape where conditions are tough and the entertainment scarce. So when a trio are found guilty of murder and are sentenced to death the gossips go wild over the 'evil' murderess Agnes Magnúsdóttir, who to the horror of one family is sent to live with them whilst she awaits her fate. Viewed by all as a monster it's only as she reveals her side of the story to Tóti, the poor priest who's come to prepare her for what's to come and is a little in love with her, that opinions start to change and people learn not to believe everything they hear.

What really attracted me to this book was the historical aspect, I'm a huge history nerd and I was intrigued to learn that this was based on a true story. Agnes was the last person to die by capital punishment in Iceland and yet despite this making her somewhat a figure of historical significance very little is known of her actual life. It's just generally considered that she was evil and as the author says, people know 'Agnes the myth, rather than Agnes the woman.' So I appreciate how sharply Kent brings her to life and gives her a voice, although this 'speculative autobiography' certainly has been romanticised perhaps a little too much but then again I'm not always sure how reliable Kent intended Agnes' narrative to be. But maybe I'm just seeing her as an untrustworthy person to try and ease my heartbreak!


Because despite the historical background and geographical accuracy (Kent describes the cold and isolating landscape so vividly you can feel the coldness and loneliness in your bones) this is very much a book about human emotion. I will warn you, there is no light relief in this book and it is dark, by the end I was crying my eyes out! It's crazy, I remember seeing this on loads of peoples Instas as their holiday reading and I wouldn't really recommend this for relaxing by the pool! Probably one more for evenings in but wherever, whenever you choose to read I couldn't recommend this enough for Kent's hauntingly beautiful writing style alone. Too lyrical for some maybe, but I loved it. If you like historical novels but can't bear those Philippa Gregory type offerings then maybe give this a go. I'd be interested to see the film if it does come out, although I'm not sure J-Law is my Agnes...I think an older actress would be better! Maybe Eva Green.

Have you read this? Do you like historical novels? I'd love some recommendations if you have any!
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40 comments:

  1. This book looks like a really interesting read! I'll have to see if it's available here in Australia - we miss out on a lot sadly - but I really hope it is! Lovely review, and I love your blog <3 x

    www.chontellelouise.blogspot.com.au

    check out my blog if you like <3 x

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  2. I read this book recently and also really enjoyed it. You're right, the descriptive language is really good and you feel like you're there with the characters experiencing the cold. I was really sad at the end too - I kept hoping things would get better but I suppose it was more realistic that way. Regarding the film, I can't wait for it to come out - I think I can see J-Law being Agnes though...

    Faye x

    i wish i could wink

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  3. OKAY. I will not be reading this on holibobs next month. It sounds good but I'd need to emotionally prepare myself first! ;)

    Tara x

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  4. Bahaha, a book called 'Burial Rites' for poolside reading, yeah I agree with you there :P But on a cold evening, all snuggled up, I think this would be perfect. I'm gonna add it to my Goodreads! I love Eva Green too. xxx

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  5. Something about human emotion sounds right up my street! Sounds like an excellent read xxx

    Sam | Samantha Betteridge

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  6. How interesting to find out that it was based on a true story. I've not read this yet, but wanted to. I have a few other reads for the an upcoming holiday to get through first though. I like when a writer gives the reader a great visual through descriptive imagery.Thanks for sharing.
    http://fashiontalesblog.com

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  7. I've just discovered your blog and so pleased I did! My latest post was about a couple of books I've been loving..I'm a new book reading convert so this post was perfect for me, I'll def take this to my 'read list!' x

    http://beyondjournal.blogspot.co.uk

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  8. I'm really not a big fan of Philippa Gregory, so this could be a winner for me. Great review lovely!

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

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  9. I love historical novels and anything that takes me back in time! Lovely book!

    xo

    Anastasia

    http://natbeesfashion.blogspot.co.uk

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  10. I can totally relate to the Jennifer Lawrence stalking sessions don't worry haha! This book sounds great, I've never heard of it before. I've got so many books to read at the moment but I'm putting together a collection to take on holiday with me - do you think this is a good holiday book?

    Ellie

    elsiebells.com

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  11. This sounds great, I love books that you can get emotionally involved in and leave you thinking about them. Will have to add this to my list :) xx


    eat-sleep-breathe-fashion.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. I'm pretty obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence too! Ughh I LOVE that girl so much. This book definitely sounds like something I'd enjoy, surprisingly, I haven't heard about it before. For some reason I've always liked "dark" books, the kind that make you feel like you're torturing yourself a bit by reading them. You've definitely convinced me that this is worth the read, will have to pick it up soon.


    Paula

    Thirteen Thoughts

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  13. Well this is a new book for my wishlist, thanks for your review
    Now I´m followingyou in bloglovin´#889
    I hope your follow me back
    xx


    www.sakuranko.com

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  14. That's so interesting, Josie! I think this may be my read for fall :)

    Edita

    http://www.pret-a-reporter.co.uk/

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  15. Oooh this sounds interesting, but I'm useless when it comes to dark novels. I end up either addicted or crying! haha xxx

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  16. I'm not sure if I could hope with the doom of this book! I bet it's heartbreaking.


    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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  17. Eva Green!! What a wonderful suggestion!! She has the innocence of beauty yet something wickedly intriguing in her gorgeous and disarming eyes!! How do we make this happen??


    I am so pleased you enjoyed this book, I share in your heart ache, what a story, and based on true happenings too. This is one that haunts you a while after reading, isn't it?


    Also, may I say, what a great find!! I love treasure hunting through charity shops but have never stumbled across quite the bounty you've found!!


    Hope you enjoy the rest of your treasures : )


    Gemma
    www.fadedwindmills.com

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  18. I actually really like it when a book breaks my heart, I'll have to put this on my Amazon wishlist! I think I'll be doing what you suggest, though, and saving it for evenings in! xx

    Toasty

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  19. Sounds like a good book, I like when an author captures an area and you feel like you are there. Will have to pick this up Lucy x

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  20. Same here, I had hope until the very end! So sad. She would probably do a wicked job to be fair, she is an amazing actress. I just think I love Eva Green too much haha! x

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  21. You don't want to be put on a downer on holiday! Which I'm very jealous of by the way, where you off to? x

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  22. Because it's set in such a cold and snowy country I feel like it's definitely a winter book! She's amazing isn't she, I wish she was in more films x

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  23. It's so good, but a real sobfest! x

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  24. It was interesting to learn a bit of history! Lucky you off on holiday, where are you going? And what books are you taking with you? x

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  25. Thank you! Will check out your post for some book recs :) x

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  26. I really recommend! Maybe it's more of a winter read though, as it's set in such a cold and snowy place! x

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  27. I'm quite fussy with historical novels but this was so good x

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  28. It's way less slushy and there's no cringey scenes in this haha! I was reading one before and it said something about someone's 'member' and I was like whaaaaat haha! x

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  29. It's great to get lost in an old world! x

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  30. Haha I'm glad I'm not the only one! I wouldn't say it's a holiday book simply because it's so sad haha! Also, if you're off to somewhere sunny it might feel a bit weird reading it because it's set in such a cold and snowy country so for that reason it's more of a wintery book for me :) x

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  31. I kind of wish I had been prepared for just how emotionally involved I was going to get haha! x

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  32. She's such a babe! If you like dark books then I reckon this is right up your street x

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  33. I think it's definitely a good one for Autumn/Winter because it's set in such a wintery setting! x

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  34. I was both haha! It was an experience :') x

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  35. It's definitely a toughie! Very sad x

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  36. It needs to happen, Eva Green is just amazing and she needs to be in more films I say! Definitely haunting, I finished this months ago and it's still in my brain and heart. I'm very lucky that my local BHF always has an excellent selection of books x

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  37. It can be weirdly nice to get heartbroken by a book sometimes! x

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  38. It's SO good! Makes me want to go to Iceland now, she made it sound so beautiful x

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  39. I always manage to pack Kahlil Gibran in every trip, but aside from that I will bring A. Huffington's Thrive, and the book You Can, You Will, plus a few trade magazines. x http://fashiontalesblog.com

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