Tag Archives: Hannah Kent

Book Review: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (4/5)

19 Aug

I learned about this book when I was getting ready for my trip to Iceland. I would have loved for it to be available as audio for me to listen to during the trip but no such luck. I was able to finally get through the CD audio recently and I wish I’d been able to experience it while in Iceland but now I just want to go back.

Cover image via Goodreads

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book but the characters were really well-drawn and the plot was well-paced. I started caring for Agnes and the family almost immediately. I knew there was something sketchy about the story from how Agnes responded to her sentence and how quiet she was. The pace of finding out was great and I was drawn in by Kent’s storytelling. I really enjoyed the setting as this is the first book I’ve read set in Iceland. Having visited, it was even more vivid for me.

I didn’t realize until the end that the characters were drawn from historical figures. I liked the author’s note describing how Kent chose to interpret them and I appreciated the explanation about other ways these people have been viewed. I thought the Agnes presented was wonderfully deep and the way the story unfolded around her was very real and compelling. The other characters added to the world, but Agnes was a wonderful leading figure.

I liked Tóti a lot. He was much more like a modern priest than the priests of his time and it was interesting to see him in contrast to his father and the district commissioner. I liked his approach to Agnes and I think she responded to it so well because it was different. She didn’t need more people yelling at her about how she was a sinner and how she needed to repent. She needed someone to listen to her story. It seemed very natural for her to tell the story and I’m glad she was able to eventually finish it, even if it wasn’t with Tóti.

I’ve had my opinion of people changed by meeting them like Tóti and the family did. I appreciated that Agnes could change their minds about her by being herself and sharing her story. The rumors about here were terrible but the truth she shared was beautiful. It showed the power of the truth and how the ‘media’ can warp it. In this case, the district commissioner and a court. I wonder what she said in the courtroom because it sounds like her story wasn’t shared.

Hannah Kent
Image via the New York Times

I thought the book picked up after Agnes started talking about her life and the time she was with Natan. Natan was a complicated character and at first, you’re so sad he’s died but then you start to question if he was a good person. Of course, death is always sad but it’s sadder when a person is innocent of any wrongdoing. As the truth about Natan comes out, you start to wonder if his death is extra-sad or normal-sad and your feelings started to change. It was very well written.

The beginning dragged for me a bit. There was a lot of description and development of the relationship between the two daughters and I felt like that didn’t really go anywhere. I wish there’d been a little more about their relationship and the different ways they felt about Agnes but it seemed that the author wanted to focus on something else and left a lot out there that could have been great.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Morven Christie. She was amazing. I don’t speak Icelandic except for ‘tak’ (thanks) but I know it’s an incredibly hard language to learn. I tried learning a few phrases before visiting and didn’t get past ‘hello’ before I gave up. It has a certain sound to it, a cadence that I can’t replicate but do recognize. Christie clearly knows (or is great at faking) Icelandic because her pronunciation of names, places, and poems was amazing. I was really impressed and found her performance impressive and beautiful. She gave great weight to Agnes’s sorrow and pain. I’d love to hear her read again.

Guilt is an odd thing. While Agnes was involved in Natan’s death, was she to blame for it? Could she have stopped it and was her role in it worthy of the punishment she was dealt? Agnes wasn’t innocent, but was she guilty? I thought this book played with that grey area well and it took the whole book for me to make a decision about her and be swayed.

Writer’s Takeaway: The location in this book shines. Kent did an amazing job of making me aware of the geography and weather of Iceland and how a family in the 1820s could deal with that harsh environment. I adored the way she described the small valley and traveling around it. I could picture it so vividly. I was so impressed.

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to more from Kent in the future. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Burial Rites – Hannah Kent | Savidge Reads
Haunting, Devastating and Really Beautiful: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent | Inside My Library Mind
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent | Caught Between the Pages
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent | Books Are My Favorite and Best
Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent | Meanwhile the World Goes On

WWW Wednesday, 14-August-2019

14 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I have some time on an airplane and a long trip coming up where I can read some of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. I’m really hoping that this means I can finish it soon!
I made the hard decision not to take The Map of Time by Félix Palma on my trip with me. I was super tight on space and it’s a very long book! I’ll pick it up when I get back home and hope I can power through next week.
I should be finishing A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab any day now. I’m very close to the end and excited to see what the final book holds! Hopefully, I don’t take as long to get to the final book. I’m going to make this my main audiobook, even if I’m still listening when I get home from my trip. I need to get through it so I can start some book club selections.

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up Burial Rites by Hannah Kent on the day I left! I’m glad I was able to finish something eventually. The story was really well written and I’m glad I read it. I wish I’d gotten to it before I visited Iceland, but I think after was still OK. I wish I’d gotten out of the capital a bit more, now. I would love to see the countryside described in this book.

No reviews this week. I’ve been busier than I can describe and I’m hoping to take this week ‘off’ and then get back to blogging next week when life has calmed down.

Reading Next: I hope to have downloaded An American Marriage by Tayari Jones before I get home from my trip and have it going ASAP. I can’t wait to listen to this one and get to a few others as soon as I can! I don’t like feeling behind with reading.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 7-August-2019

7 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I had a few lunch breaks to read Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min last week. I can feel I’m getting toward the end of it, but I still have a long way to go. I need to pick shorter ebooks.
I’m about halfway through The Map of Time by Félix Palma which is more than I’d hoped for. The plot is really engaging for this one and I’m liking the narrative style a lot. I keep reading it instead of doing other things I should.
I started running again and listening to A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. I hope I’m able to listen to the third in this series soon because I’d hate to forget all of the amazing details I’m hearing in this one. Schwab’s writing is amazing.
I’m over halfway through Burial Rites by Hannah Kent already and I’m really liking it. Agnes is becoming more developed and I’m looking forward to where her character will end up. I have an inkling of what will happen and I can’t wait to see it played out!

Recently finished: Nothing new this week. I did post my review of Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton yesterday so please check that out when you can. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I still hope to get a copy of An American Marriage by Tayari Jones next. It’s available as an eaudio so that shouldn’t be too hard. Though I have yet another audiobook to get to soon for my other book club so I hope I can power through this one!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 31-July-2019

31 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Well, I read some of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. That’s a start, right? I’ll keep moving forward with this but it feels like it’s never-ending. But it has to at some point. I just feel like I’ve stalled.
I’m really enjoying The Map of Time by Félix Palma. I’m moving through it as fast as my schedule allows but I’ve already had to renew it once at the library. I’ll make it through eventually but I know this thick book is a long haul. I’m hanging on tight for the ride!
I’m at a lull with A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. Now that my race is over, I’m taking a short break from running and biking to concentrate on a 2-mile swim I’m doing this weekend. It’s hard to listen while I swim so I’ll get back to this soon. I’m really liking it so I can’t wait to dive back in.
I’ve enjoyed Burial Rites by Hannah Kent so far. I’m amazed at the narrator attempting (successfully?) to pronounce all the Icelandic names and locations in this book. They sound impossible to pronounce. When we were in Iceland, I didn’t even try.

Recently finished: In a weird twist, the library e-copy of Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton my husband and I had been listening to is no longer available. I guess we were the only ones using it and it was removed from the collection. I dug out my physical copy and we took turns reading it out loud to each other on the drive home from Ohio. We had one chapter left when we got home and finished it that night! Review to come.

I posted my review of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin yesterday. It feels so good to have finally finished that book! Please go check it out. I hope I don’t wait as long before I start the fourth book. I gave it Five out of Five Stars, my highest rating in the series so far!

Reading Next: The plan is still to get an e-copy of An American Marriage by Tayari Jones next. While I’m taking a break from running, I’m still doing a half marathon in the fall so I’ll be back at it soon enough and I’ll get to this after Schwab.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 24-July-2019

24 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: It’s been even slower with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. I’ve been having lunch with a friend a lot the past few weeks since it’s nice out. We can’t do this as much come winter so we’re enjoying the sun and I’m reading less. Oh well.
My husband and I haven’t moved forward with Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. We have a drive coming up this weekend (more on that tomorrow) so we’ll get a bit more in then. This one might be a long time running.
I was finally able to start The Map of Time by Félix Palma! It’s been really interesting so far, though I’m not far into it. The narration style is reminding me a bit of Marcus Zusak. We’ll see if that continues.
I’ve already made great progress with A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab due to some longer training sessions last week. I’m optimistic that I’ll finish this in two weeks, but we’ll see. Optimism!
I start Burial Rites by Hannah Kent in my car. Not too far into it yet, so no real opinion. I added this to my TBR when I planned my trip to Iceland but I’m a year late on reading it. Oh well, better late than never!

Recently finished: Finally, there is so much to report! I wrapped up The Golden Rules by Bob Bowman which was a great one to listen to while training for a Half Ironman. It was really inspiring to push toward your goals. It helps that I’m an avid swimmer and swim fan and this focused on Bowman’s most famous athlete, Michael Phelps. My review went up last Thursday and I gave it Three out of Five Stars.
I was glad to finish A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers late last week. It was dragging on more than I wanted and I was eager to start something new. My review went up yesterday so you can check that out. I gave it Two out of Five Stars.
I finally finished A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin! 39 disks and over 47 hours completed. It feels amazing to be done. I’ll have a review up next week I expect. I hope I can remember it all.

Reading Next: I’ve got one more book club pick coming up soon that I need to start so I’ll be listening to Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage next. I’ve read Jones before and liked her and this one has had a lot of good press so I’m looking forward to it.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!