Burial Rites

  • by Hannah Kent
  • Narrated by Morven Christie
  • 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Longlisted – Baileys Women’s Prize 2014
They said I must die. They said that I stole the breaths from men, and now they must steal mine. I imagine, then, that we are all candle flames, greasy-bright, fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me in a grey wreath of smoke.
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’ spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’ story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.
Based on actual events, Burial Rites is an astonishing and moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we’re told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, in which 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?


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Worth stepping out of your comfort zone

Would you listen to Burial Rites again? Why?

Yes, I'd like to listen again to pick up on some of the smaller details/descriptions

Who was your favorite character and why?

Agnes, the character really drew me in.

Which character – as performed by Morven Christie – was your favorite?

Agnes. Morven Christie is an amazing performer. As Agnes her often breathy tone really brought across the feeling of despair. All of the characters are done well. You hardly notice a change in her voice yet it sounds like different people are reading.

If you could rename Burial Rites, what would you call it?

Hmm not sure.

Any additional comments?

I bought this book purely based on the fact that Morven Christie was the narrator. I hadn't heard of it before and probably wouldn't have given it a second glance otherwise. I was not at all familiar with the real life event and found this work to be quite surprising and very interesting. I'm now off to google it to learn more :)

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- Leah "Living and learning one story at a time :)"

Simply fantastic!

I cannot write a review that can do this book justice. This is what goes through my head:

* I am so happy I give few books five stars, because then when I run into a book this good my five star rating means something!

* You need a strong stomach for this book. I have warned you.

* Once you start you will not be able to read or do anything else.

* There is NO humor in this book. I always need humor, except NOT here. Don't ask me why! I just didn't need it. I was riveted from start to finish. I needed to understand the relationships that lie at the core of what happened. I was so focused on understanding the why, I didn't have any need for humor. Humor simply doesn't belong in this book. This is Nordic historical fiction of times long past - there is hunger and cold and darkness. That is the way it was. And people living in such difficult times did such twisted things.

* The book is NOT spooky, it is atmospheric.

* The writing! Similes, metaphors - they are all just perfect. Stunning writing.

* You will be moved. Jeez, at the end...... No, not just at the end, all the way through.

* And this is very important. Do not read this book. Please, if you possibly can, listen to it. The narration by Morven Christie is totally fantastic. The Icelandic is perfect. The tempo is slow and it must be slow, so you can think about what is being said, so you feel the doom and darkness of the events. This is an excellently written book AND excellently narrated. BOTH!

Phew, after this I don't want another Nordic drama for a long time. My emotions cannot take it. I have been through a wringer with this one.

I assume you have read the book description, so you know that this story is based on true events. There is a chapter at the end that explains all the research involved. The author closely follows what is known. There are different views of Agnes' behavior, but the author has totally convinced my of what her study of the facts have lead her to believe.

This is one of the best books I have read/listened to this year.


After half:
I have listened to half now. I still absolutely love it. It has love too. One of the few authors that can feed me a love story and please me immensely. I am convinced Agnes did not kill the man she is accused of killing. But history says she is beheaded for this reason. Remember this is Nordic historical fiction! Now I will say no more. I don't know what will happen in the rest of the book, so I cannot possibly give a spoiler.

You read this book for the marvelous atmosphere and the lines. Gorgeous lines! A superb writer.


After 6 chapters:
This book is beautifully written. Atmospheric. Nordic historical fiction at its best. The narration by Morven Christie is wonderful too. Don't read it, listen to it. I have only listened to 6 chapters, but there is no way this book can get anything but 5 stars.

Hannah Kent is Australian, mentored by Geraldine Brooks! This book is far better than any I have read by Geraldine Brooks, and I am not disparaging Brooks when I say that.
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- Chrissie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-29-2013
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd