I encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book to seriously put down whatever you’re doing, and hop to it. I picked it up last Saturday night, and when I put it down what felt like 3 minutes later, (but was actually closer to 2 hours) I was halfway through. It’s Hannah Kent’s debut novel, and the story itself of how the book came to be written is extraordinary. The writing is truly something else, lyrical but yet taut and very atmospheric- I read it with a growing sense of foreboding which I felt I could almost reach out and touch.
It’s based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be exiled in Iceland for her part in the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson in 1828. The novel tells the story of her last few months, in a combination of first person narrative and through the eyes of those around her- which I thought was a nice touch to keep the story moving, and not at all as jarring as it can feel penned by a lessor author. Some voices are sympathetic, like the young and compassionate preacher, Reverend Thorvadur “Tóti” Jónsson who Is Agnes’ self requested confessor, used as a vehicle for Agnes to voice her side of the story. Continue reading