Monday, June 3, 2013

Fibro Book Club: Burial Rites

As head prefect of the Fibro Club, I now declare this meeting open. Everyone have their glass of wine and their thoughts in order? Excellent.

I've had several actual, real life conversations about our book, Burial Rites, over the past week. We all agreed that we knew from page one that it wasn't going to end well. When the book is about the last person executed in Iceland, you know you're not looking at a happily ever after. But somehow that didn't seem to matter.

The reason I chose this book as our first selection was that it is one of those books. Debut author. International two-book deal worth $1 million. This book had something going on. Everyone said so.

There is no denying that there is a lot of grim in Hannah Kent's book. A lot of cold. One of the people I spoke to this week didn't feel that there were enough words to really convey the sense of place, but I really enjoyed the sparse nature of Kent's prose. To me, the sense of place built, word by word, page by page, along with the intimacy as the inevitability of the story inched forward, revealing itself under all that snow.

"Slow" was another word that came up a lot. It is a slow tale and, yes, a bleak one in many ways, but I found it intensely interesting. Strong female characters. An otherness in the setting. Historic detail. And, always, that slowly unravelling story.

Ultimately satisfying - for me, if not for Agnes.

What did you think? Share your thoughts here or pop over to the Fibro Club Facebook page to join the discussion.


  1. Adding my two cents worth when I haven't read the book actually I've never even heard of it until now but book titled Burial Rights does not scream happy ending to me!! I think you're all brave for reading it. I'm happily flicking my way through a pile of magazines I picked up at the op shop today 20c each. Not very literary of me I know but I liken reading to eating - variety is good.

  2. Darn, missed the bloody date! I thought it was next week. That's the trouble with a book club, really. You plow your way through books you ordinarily wouldn't read (good point) and are then rather disappointed at the discussion. Previous book clubs where people didn't actually ever read the book, didn't want to talk about the book, didn't have anything remotely interesting to add about the book... and now I've missed the first one where I did read the book and had interesting things to say.

    Things about the symmetry of the book: her repetition of the stone metaphor - grounding, cold, callous stone, used to evoke silence in some parts and a tethering to the earth in others. The moodiness of the weather manifesting itself in the characters. The general themes of loss and pain. The harshness of love. The seasonal nature of feelings.

    So much to say. And you know I found it tough going in the beginning, until I let myself be a part of the book and feel the landscape and sit a while. x


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