The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Burial Rites


I definitely started the New Year off with a very interesting and well-written book Burial Rites (B+) by Hannah Kent. This book ranked at the top of many book lists for 2013 and it is clear why.

Agnes Magnusdottir has been found guilty of murdering her master Natan (rhymes with Satan).  Burial Rites takes the reader along as Agnes lives her last days awaiting execution. Before meeting Natan her life was pretty awful. Abandoned by her mother and parted from her brother, she struggled to survive anyway that she could. When she met Natan; she believed she had finally found someone who could love and value her. She knew that when servants were hired as headmistresses of a household it often lead to permanent and secure positions. Added to this, she believed herself in love with Natan and for a while thought he loved her as well. In time, her life with him unravels and his true despicable nature dominates.  She and two others have been charged with his murder.  However, she is the one the Justice hopes to make an example of. But is she really guilty?

While she awaits her execution she is made to live with a family not far from the scene of the murder. People in this tight community “know” her and are convinced she is capable of the crime. She has asked to speak with a young apprentice minister who she met many years before. She perceived that meeting as an omen and believes through him she will find the means to be saved.

She relates her story in conversations with Reverend Toti and Margaret. The details are not pleasant but captivating. I became mesmerized with her story and began rooting for her; hoping for her sentence to be dismissed. Honestly I didn’t know this was a true story until I read the author’s notes.

I do recommend this be added to your reading list for the upcoming year. Hannah Kent delivers an honest to goodness “good read” that is the result of her extensive research. It deserves being at the top of the 2013 lists and for me will probably be score high in 2014.


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