72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Victimised, misunderstood and martyred,
This review is from: Burial Rites (Hardcover)
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I so wanted to love this like the other reviewers but I'm afraid that elusive alchemy between book and reader didn't work for me here. This is written in a style which I suspect you will either find beautifully poetic - or as tipping over into the faux-poetic at times: "the world has stopped snowing... the clouds hang still in the air like dead bodies... I am beyond time".
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.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Nov 2013 10:54:10 GMT
Many thanks. I'll spare the cost of this book for something that better suits my old and cynical literary taste. Can't be doing with the fey and mythic. It smacks of the style of a young first novelist. I had a similar lack of connection recently with the much acclaimed (as in overly publicised) The Light Between Oceans, by M.L.Stedman.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jan 2015 11:08:07 GMT
I'm halfway through this book at the moment and I have exactly the same feelings. If I didn't know anything about the author, I'd probably have formed the opinion that they were inexperienced. I feel that the novel could be tightened up - to often it goes all wispy and soft. Besides, there's no real 'bite' to it and subsequently there's no glue holding me to it.
Posted on 24 Jan 2015 10:23:31 GMT
Patricia Johnson says:
By using the word "martyred" in the title of the review are you giving away the ending?
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Dec 2015 06:45:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Dec 2015 06:51:25 GMT
Yes Patricia, I made the mistake of looking at the reviews here whilst reading (I don't normally!), and the ending was spoiled by this carelessness. On the review itself: I'm not one for the fey and mystic by any means, but didn't find the writing like that at all. Yes, dreams and portends do feature in a minor way - but that was how it was at that time. To eliminate them would have removed the very basis of so much belief and lost any sense of authenticity.
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