Burial Rites by Hannah Kent was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. Not for love and certainly not for my tube stop. I missed the book tour Hannah Kent did when the hardback came out but yesterday the Australian author was back in London promoting the paperback of Burial Rites and I definitely wasn’t going to miss it. The event was arranged by The Girly Book Club and was held in The Antelope, a lovely pub just off Sloane Square.
It was an incredibly intimate setting and Hannah Kent spent the time telling us the stories surrounding how she came to write Burial Rites, her story behind how she discovered more about Agnus, and the strange and frankly brilliant story of just how extraordinary her journey was. Some of the coincidences she encountered as she researched this part of Icelandic history was extraordinary.
After, she read a little from the book, a passage which first introduces us to Agnes Magnúsdóttir. She then answered some questions from member of the audience. Most of these questions cantered around what exactly was fact and what was fiction in Burial Rites. I loved hearing about the line between the two and it was really nice to know just how much was fact. As Hannah Kent herself said, what seems to strange to be fact actually is fact. She couldn’t make some of the stuff up because real life is just that insane.
This was all followed by a book signing and as I was talking to her about the meaning of my name she mentioned that she really enjoys knowing things like that about her characters too. She tries to include the meaning of her characters’ names into her books. So I asked her if she had done that in Burial Rites. Yes, she replied because Agnus translates into lamb and she, the character, often refers to herself as a lamb for slaughter.
If you haven’t read Burial Rites you must and if Hannah Kent is coming near you then go see her – she’s wonderful.