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October Book Review

By Simply Books, Oct 10 2017 07:00AM

Hannah Kent's debut novel Burial Rites - a book inspired by events surrounding the celebrated trial and execution of a young woman in late nineteenth century Iceland - was an award-winning international best seller. She has a wonderful talent for taking fragments of historical facts and breathing life into them through her fiction.

For her new book, The Good People, we are in rural Ireland 1825. As with her first book the author takes inspiration from true events - in this case of a trial of 'an old woman of very advanced age' of willful infanticide. This is one of several recorded cases of death and injury suffered as a consequence of trying to 'put the fairy' out of a child that has come to seen as a 'changeling' from the 'fairy world' of 'good people'. Mourning the death of her husband and daughter Nora hears rumours that her four year-old son Michael can no longer speak or walk - people are saying he's a 'changeling', bringing bad luck to the valley. In desperation Nora seeks a cure from the local 'keener' or 'handy woman' and is soon set on a course which will bring her into conflict with the Catholic Church and her own community.

Hannah Kent has a keen ear for the lilt and intonation of the villagers' conversation and gives us a fascinating and compelling picture of a community torn between on the one hand the folklore of a traditional belief in 'the fairy world', and on the other the authority of the Priest and the Church. Beautifully written book - a book to immerse yourself in!


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