Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Good People by Hannah Kent


Short-listed for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

One of Entertainment Weekly's "Must-Read" books for Fall


From the author of Burial Rites, "a literary novel with the pace and tension of a thriller that takes us on a frightening journey towards an unspeakable tragedy."-Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train

Based on true events in nineteenth century Ireland, Hannah Kent's startling new novel tells the story of three women, drawn together to rescue child from a superstitious community. 

Nora, bereft after the death of her husband, finds herself alone and caring for her grandson Micheál, who can neither speak nor walk. A handmaid, Mary, arrives to help Nóra just as rumours begin to spread that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Determined to banish evil, Nora and Mary enlist the help of Nance, an elderly wanderer who understands the magic of the old ways.


Set in a lost world bound by its own laws, THE GOOD PEOPLE is Hannah Kent's startling new novel about absolute belief and devoted loveTerrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers.

REVIEW

I do enjoy a dark book, and this one definitely falls within that category. The story is set in 19th Century Ireland and is set on true events. 

In an isolated community where a physician's aid is difficult to come by, the people depend upon old wives tales, superstitions, and the help of a healer. Nora is the protagoist and when her husband suddenly and unexpectedly dies, she is left alone to raise their handicapped grandson. Unable to run the farm and take care of the invalid child, she hires the help of a young woman named Mary to care for the boy. At first Mary is shocked and struggles to find her comfort in her strange circumstances. Soon, however, her bond with the boy grows. Superstition abounds and Nora is convinced the boy is not her grandson but a changeling left by the mysterious, fairy, magical "good folk".  With the help of the local healer, an old woman who practices with superstition and herbs, the three women set about to return the child to the good people and seek the return of the real boy. 

What transpires is a fascinating tale of misguided intentions, false beliefs, and heart-wrenching circumstances. At times, especially during the middle of the book, it felt almost too hard to believe, nearly fantastical, but then I recalled how this is a story based on an actual occurrence and I read on, unable to put it down. Vividly real, flawed characters grace every page. 

This is a wonderfully dark tale not for the feint of heart. To say it is heart-wrenching is an understatement. This is a great book for book clubs and for Halloween. It will provide hours of discussion! Highly recommended. I loved it very much!