Showing posts with label hannah kent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hannah kent. Show all posts

Monday, March 9, 2015

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Title: Burial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

My Review:

I have mixed feelings here, friends.  Burial Rites gets a lot of raves--you can look all over Goodreads and other book blogs to see that quite plainly.  Unfortunately, this one isn't sticking with me quite as strongly as I had hoped.  I'm not in love with Burial Rites, but I'd say I'm in like with it.

Kent has certainly done something unique here, as the basic story of Agnes Magnusdottir is, in fact, true.  She was the last woman executed in Iceland, back in 1828.  Kent took the general details of Agnes's conviction, imprisonment, and execution, and then made the story fictional by filling in all the information that you can't get from historical documents.  Agnes's relationships with her priest, the family that houses her as she awaits execution, and (most importantly) the men she allegedly killed, are all slowly brought to fruition as the novel unfolds.  In the end, you are left with a very morally ambiguous story that gives readers the opportunity to make their own decisions about Agnes's guilt (or innocence).

We've established that this book is unique and well-crafted.  And the writing is beautiful--no denying that.  So why am I only in LIKE with it?  Why couldn't I fall in LOVE?  For me, that answer lies in the pacing of the story.  As I said above, Agnes's story unfolds slowly...and by that I mean slowwwwwwwwwwwly.  The true nature of her relationship with the murder victims is brought to light through a series of conversations that she has with her priest and her host family.  Every one of these conversations is always cut short at some climactic moment, because a guest arrives, or the grass has to be harvested, a cow has to be milked, whatever.  By the last bit of the novel, it was enough to drive me crazy.  LEAVE THE COW ALONE, I WANT TO KNOW HOW THIS ENDS.

I don't always need a fast-moving plot to keep my attention--I love drawn-out, character-driven novels too.  But while the character development was very central to this book, there was still an element of mystery to it that left me feeling like I wanted things to move along a bit more.

So, while I did enjoy the questions that were raised at the end, by the time I got there, the lackadaisical pacing had tamped down my interest quite a bit.

Overall, I'd say this is a high quality read, and a unique take on historical fiction for sure.  However, the plot moved a bit too slowly for me, and that made it feel like more of a middle-of-the-road reading experience as a whole.  That said--I am definitely in the minority on this one, so if the description of this book has piqued your interest at all, don't let my lukewarm review keep you from giving it a try.

What was the last widely-loved novel you read that didn't quite hit the mark for you?

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday, and what am I NOT reading?

Hello, reader friends!  A quick post today, as it's been a busy (but fun) weekend around here with my menfolk.  We celebrated the fact that we live in Rochester and it snows by going to the local Winter Fest yesterday, and I think we are all tired out!  Small Fry has discovered a deep love of sledding, and my husband and I have the sore arms from toting his sled up and down the hill to prove it.  My husband also has the day off today, so we are enjoying a little extra family time on this long weekend.

As for what I'm reading these nightstand is about to fall over from the weight, people!  Here's what's going:

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I've been in the midst of this since mid-December.  I like to slow-read my classics.  I'm about halfway through.  Some parts are, admittedly, sleep-inducing, but the majority of it is pretty good.  I'm keeping notes for a future review.  It will likely definitely include at least one mention of the Hartford Whalers.

2, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I heard through the blogger grapevine that this has the potential to be "the Gone Girl of 2015".  If that is not true, people (AHEM, Jennifer) need to choose their words more carefully.  Because I think we all know the best way to get me to drop everything and read something is to compare it to Gone Girl .  My verdict is still out, but stay tuned.

3. The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Reading this for a book tour at the end of the month.  A little more romantical than what I usually choose, but I'm still enjoying the mystery and intrigue of it so far.

Also on my nightstand but not started yet...
1. Dead Wake by Erik Larson

I have an ARC of this one and I am SO EXCITED to get started on it soon!

2. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Picked it up from the library because I've heard nothing but good's due back in 2 weeks...I'm sure I'll get to it, right?

3. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Not physically on my nightstand yet, but my book club just chose it as our next pick, so I've got a hold in for it at the library.

Reading is out of control right now, friends!  But the great thing is, these are all excellent books so far.  Too many excellent books is NEVER a bad thing.

What are you reading this week?
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