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“Happy Reading #13”

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

If I could choose a dream profession, I would pick the job of a storyteller. I love telling stories and listening to stories. Growing up, my favorite part of road trips was my dad and mom telling us their forgotten stories. They were always such diverse topics, and I remember one road trip while driving late; Dad told us about the banned books on politics and India’s freedom struggle. And my mom ended the journey talking about the government-forced blackouts in towns closer to the border of India and Pakistan during the 1970s war to save them from being bombed. So yes, I grew up listening to such animated speakers on diverse topics.

And now, coming back to tonight’s blog post. This one is in appreciation of the book titled Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I realized my love for storytelling and the profession while reading this one. The book is about the last woman who to be beheaded for a murder. She and two others were convicted, but one was pardoned for she looked very young and innocent of having had anything to do with a gory murder. The criminal, Agnes awaits the final days after her trial at a farm as decided by the King. She is granted permission to speak to a priest to atone for her crimes before she is to be beheaded. That is the synopsis of the story. Now the author writes in a storytelling manner. Agnes just wants to be heard before she is executed. She wants everyone to know her side of the story. Not everything is clearly black or white. Agnes is a strong-willed, intelligent girl who has survived in a world of men and slavery. She has worked on multiple farms and has a strong personality that does not go down very well with men of the 1800s. Quite honestly, it still does not work very well in 2023. To be a strong-willed woman with a mind of her own, daring to stand out, usually has men and women labeling her in sadly derogatory adjectives that I refuse to type. Now, without straying into the atrocities of society on women and children, I would like to talk about the book. It is vivid, fast-paced, and thought-provoking. Even though it was based in the 1800s, there were moments in the story that I could relate to. It is so wonderfully atmospheric and insightful. It is sometimes unbelievable that I could almost imagine myself sitting leaning against the warm hearth wall listening to Agnes talk while she told her story.  I especially loved the way the book ended. It was clear but left it to the reader however they want to imagine the final moments of the protagonist.

The book is excellent and a must-read if you like thrillers and historical fiction. Though this is based on a real-life incident and is very well-researched, I must add. All in all a 4.5 stars for me.

Neglected many times

Abandoned once and again

My shell of a life is a disgrace. I am reminded each day

Thrown out to die

For maids have no worth beyond a certain age.

Never loved nor respected

My mercy engulfed in flames

Lost in translation.

Yet, forgotten by no one.

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