Excerpt from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2013, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2014, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Suzanne Reeder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Jón returned to Kornsá some hours later. Kristín, who had come back from her afternoon's holiday to a sound chastising from Margrét, was scowling reproachfully at Steina. Margrét paused at her knitting and was considering whether or not to make peace between the girls, when she heard the door to the croft creak open and the sound of her husband's heavy tread in the corridor.

Jón entered and immediately looked across at his wife. She clenched her jaw.

"Well?" Margrét ushered her husband to his bed.

Jón fumbled at the ties on his shoes.

"Please, Pabbi," Lauga said, dropping to her knees. "What did Blöndal say?" She jerked backwards as she pulled off his boots. "Is she still to come here?"

Jón nodded. "It's as Lauga said. Agnes Magnúsdóttir is to be moved from her holdings at Stóra-Borg and brought to us."

"But why, Pabbi?" Lauga asked quietly. "What did we do wrong?"

"We have done nothing wrong. I am a District Officer. She can't be placed with any family. She is a responsibility of the authorities, of which I am one."

"Plenty of authorities at Stóra-Borg." Margrét's tone was sour.

"She's to be moved nevertheless. There was an incident."

"What happened?" Lauga asked.

Jón looked down at the fair face of his youngest child. "I am sure it was nothing to worry about," he said eventually.

Margrét gave a short laugh. "Are we just going to yield to this? Like a dog rolling over?" Her voice dropped to a hiss. "This Agnes is a murderess, Jón! We have our girls, our workmen. Even Kristín! We are responsible for others!"

Jón gave his wife a meaningful look. "Blöndal means to compensate us, Margrét. There is remuneration for her custody."

Margrét paused. When she spoke her voice was subdued. "Perhaps we should send the girls away."

"No, Mamma! I don't want to leave," cried Steina.

"It would be for your own safety."

Jón cleared his throat. "The girls will be safe enough with you, Margrét." He sighed. "There is another thing. Björn Blöndal has requested my presence at Hvammur on the night the woman arrives here."

Margrét opened her mouth in dismay. "You mean to make me meet her?"

"Pabbi, you can't leave Mamma alone with her," Lauga cried.

"She won't be alone. You will all be here. There will be officers from Stóra-Borg. And a Reverend. Blöndal has organized it."

"And what is so important at Hvammur that Blöndal requires you there the very night he ushers a criminal into our home?"

"Margrét…"

"No, I insist. This is unfair."

"We are to discuss who shall be executioner."

"Executioner!"

"All the District Officers will be present, including those from Vatnsnes who will travel with the Stóra-Borg riders. We will sleep there that night and return the next day."

"And in the meantime I am left alone with the woman who killed Natan Ketilsson."

Jón looked at his wife calmly. "You will have your daughters."

Margrét began to say something further, but then thought better of it. She gave her husband a hard look, took up her knitting and began working the needles furiously.

Steina watched her mother and father from under lowered brows, and picked up her dinner, feeling sick to her stomach. She held the wooden bowl in her hands and examined the gobbets of mutton swimming in the greasy broth. Slowly taking her spoon, she lifted a piece to her lips and began to chew, her tongue locating a lump of gristle within the flesh. She fought the instinct to spit it out and ground it under her teeth, swallowing in silence.

Excerpted from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Copyright © 2013 by Hannah Kent. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  A Short History of Iceland

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.