“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”
I have had a bit of luck with first time authors of late, and Hannah Kent is no exception. Her debut work, Burial Rites, is a gripping novel- all mood and emotion. It’s a story gaining speed like a stone rolling downhill, for there is only one way to go.
Ms. Kent writes in Burial Rites about the last instance of capital punishment in Iceland. But I don’t really want to talk about plot in this review; I want to talk about language and intent.
In her Acknowledgements Ms. Kent describes this work as her “dark love letter to Iceland”. She became acquainted with the story of Agnes Magnusdottir on a Rotary exchange trip to Iceland from her home in Australia, and researched the murders at Illugastadir to a magnificent depth, mining archival sources and academic writings to deliver a story based on the historical record. More…