- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 2 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 29 Aug. 2013
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00DVDRUO2
Burial Rites Audio Download – Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
Audio Download, Unabridged
|Free with your Audible trial|
Listen on your Kindle Fire or with the free Audible app on Apple, Android, and Windows devices.
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
1829: condemned murderess Agnes Magnusdottir (apologies for the lack of Icelandic punctuation in this review) is sent to a remote farm to live out her final days while she awaits execution. Along with two others Agnes has been convicted of the murder of two men, including the charismatic farmer/faith healer, Natan Ketilsson. The Jonsson family with whom she is billeted have no choice in the matter due to the father Jon's role as a District Officer (a low-ranking administrator) and are understandably suspicious and wary of having such a notorious woman living in their midst. Although on the surface they appear to be relatively affluent farmers with a retinue of servants and livestock, the Jonsson's still class themselves as peasants, fuelling their fires with dried dung and covering their windows with fish skin. Life is lived mainly in the `badstofa', the communal space where the family and their servants, including Agnes, sleep, eat and converse. This all adds to the sense of isolation and claustrophobia as Agnes slowly earns the trust and confidence of most members of the household, impressing them with her strong work ethic and sharing with them a love of the Icelandic sagas.
The day to day detail of Agnes's life on the farm is interspersed with her first-person account of her traumatic early life and the events leading up to the murders, mostly told in the form of a confession either to the matriarch of the family, Margret, or her chosen confidant and spiritual adviser, assistant priest Thorvardur Jonsson (no relation to the family).Read more ›
Burial Rites has neither of those aspects and yet it is still one of the best books I think I have ever read (or listened to, as I had an audiobook copy).
The writing was stunning. Almost poetic at times (definitely poetic at others), lyrical and yet sharp and cutting when it needed to be.
The picture Kent created of Iceland in the early 1800s was complete – you felt the bitter cold of the snow and the gentle touch of the sunshine; you could smell the animal warmth of the cowshed and the smokiness of the kitchen; taste the warm milk and salty food; heard the ravens overhead and the cruel moaning of the wind, all in the stunning backdrop of the Northern Lights, wild ocean and looming mountains of the Icelandic coast.
I couldn’t step out of the world when I stopped listening, it stayed in my head and haunted my dreams the entire time it took me to listen to the whole novel. The characters and their stories felt real and honest and I found myself drawn into their lives like a ghost in the corner, watching everything unfold, learning secrets and sifting the facts from the gossip.
There was little to no light relief throughout the novel, it was a cascading tumble to the inevitable ending, as you would expect from a novel based on the life of a woman condemned to death. But this lack of comedy didn’t seem to matter, the changes in narrator were enough to stop you from drowning in too much misery and the matter of learning the truth in the mystery was a big factor in keeping you reading.
There were some graphic scenes and the images from at least one are going to stay with me for a considerable time.Read more ›
The characters feel elemental and as if they're meant to be mythic, drawing on the Norse and Icelandic sagas which Agnes tells us she knows by heart - but that's a slightly lazy way of not having to delineate them as characters, to leave them as types. And the book itself fits a type (e.g. Corrag): this is the story of a poor woman victimised by men and society, misunderstood and martyred, with only brief moments of human companionship, connection and empathy to sustain her.
The atmosphere of C19th Iceland is well done, as is the portrayal of the austere hardship of agricultural life. And there are some very powerful scenes towards the end which are genuinely moving and filled with pathos. Overall, however, this felt a bit over-wrought and fey for me, with its repeated use of dreams and portends, and its clear intention to be `mythic'. I loved the idea of this book, but we failed to gel.
It caught my eye a long time ago, when it was newly published, I acquired a copy, but when it arrived it didn’t call me. I think that maybe I read a little too much about it, maybe I felt that what I read and the knowledge that it was based on real, historical events said to me that there was less reason to read this book that there were to read other books.
I picked it up a little while ago, because it had been waiting for long enough, and it was time for me to either read it or let it go.
When I started to read I discovered that, though the story played out much as I thought it would, though there were no real surprises, the telling of the story was so very good that I had to keep reading.
The facts underpinning this book are simple and stark:
‘Agnes Magnúsdóttir was the last person to be executed in Iceland, convicted for her role in the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson on the night between the 13th and 14th of March 1828, at Illugastadir, on the Vatnsnes Peninsula, North Iceland.’
The story opens in 1829, a year after Agnes –and two others– had been found guilty of the two murders. Agnes was sent north, into the custody of District Officer Jón Jónsson, to work on his farm until the time came for her execution. where she will await the day of her beheading. District Officer, his wife Magrét and two daughters, Lauga and Steina, all of whom regard her with suspicion and distrust, but as they had no choice in the matter and they had to find ways to cope.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating and gripping book which vividly brought to life the harsh and cruel times that are depicted.Published 1 hour ago by Ms. Sasha Lubetkin
Beautifully written, skilfully crafted sorrowful tale. I couldn't put this book down. The bleak landscape of Iceland added to the agonising wait of Agnes convicted of murder to... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Mrs Eva Davison
I was drawn to this novel by its historical setting, fascinating landscape, intriguing protagonist and tale of injustice, intolerance and survival. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Greta
Well this was a devastating read!!
Telling the tale, as it does of Agnes Magnúsdóttir:
‘Agnes Magnúsdóttir was the last person to... Read more
One of the most haunting stories I have read in a long time, atmospherically and elegantly written. The reader roots for Agnes, long before others in the story do. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Amazon Customer