Thursday, April 21, 2016

..Books and Stories..

“Everything I said was taken from me and altered until the story wasn’t my own.”

I finished reading Burial Rites two days ago and had to document my views here. I didn't want to let go of my thoughts and felt the need to record them somewhere. What better place than this?
Here I am adding another chapter to this book.

This book was recommended highly on Instagram by a book lover whose feed I diligently follow.
Every Burial Rites post from her screamed at me, it called my name and the book cover stayed in my head for days altogether. We all know that I have a morbid fascination with death and I leave no chance to read about it. I once had this discussion with a doctor friend and a fellow runner who very casually declared his love and excitement for death. My response was simple - "Death is inevitable. It is the life that keeps me on my toes".  Time and again I think about this subject and my views on it. I like to read, observe and study how different cultures handle death, loss etc but lets not digress..

I managed to find this book in my library and got it promptly. Burial rites is the story of the last public execution in Iceland in 1829. A man and a servant woman( Agnus) were beheaded for a murder committed on a remote farm. Since there were no prisons in Iceland at that time, the condemned woman had been held for the winter before her execution at a farm where she'd lived as a young girl, with a farmers family. Burial Rites is about that winter. The story is true but the book is written from Agnus Magnusdottir's point of view. It is said that all available documentation speaks of her as a cold hearted murderer.

The portrayal of Iceland is haunting. The winters, coldness, rural life permeates inside. There are sad, sorrowful, beautiful and pitiful moments which stay with you long after you're done reading the last page.  It is Agnus's story and her budding relationships with her custodians and the reverend who is appointed for spiritual guidance. 

What I really liked was how the author had written the last chapter. It just made everything human, poignant and real, and her thoughts before her execution.  We all think about death every now and then. Internally we are more scared than we actually care to admit.  The words are simple and feel real. There is no false bravado. Agnus's cold demeanor peel off just before her death. She wants to fight back and is not ready to die.  This is a story of trust, faith, finding people, losing people, love, hardships and injustice. This is the story of Agnes. All the way.

I liked the world that the author painted with her words. I enjoyed the world of mystical motifs, magical realism, her knowledge of sagas, dreams and poems. I liked the way she has married the realist world with the world of Agnus's memories and imagination.

You will be lost, you are not going home, you are gone, silence will claim you, suck your life down into its black waters and churn out stars that might remember you, but if they do they will not say, they will not say, and if no one will say your name you are forgotten. I am forgotten.

I hope one day you end up reading this beautiful book.

I know that I haven't been posting regularly. I want to but I have no excuses to offer. I waited, waited and waited for that urge to write to strike naturally but no luck. I guess I am at my wits' end.  I am not sure what's holding me back. I have new experiences, stories, incidents, thoughts etc and I am still not able to form coherent sentences. There's still something's missing. I cannot say, yeah. 

But I promise to be back, to write and to share..


  1. Sounds interesting! Adding this to my To-Read list! :)

    1. Yes, you must :). It is difficult to put it away.