After reading Hannah Kent’s first novel “Burial Rites”, and absolutely loving it, I was very excited to find out that her second novel was to be released. I have now read “The Good People” and was just as impressed with it.
Her first book was so beautifully written that I was entirely confident that this new book would not disappoint. It is written in the same exquisite style, with gorgeous sentences composed with wonderful words that you want to linger over. I’m sure that it would be a wonderful story to listen to as an audio book, just because her writing is so lovely! However, as I became more engrossed in the actual story, I found myself rushing over some the writing, unfortunately, because I just had to find out what was going to happen next.
Like “Burial Rites”, this story has a rural setting and is based on a true story. Set in 19th century Ireland, this story describes the desperately hard life of survival in the very poor villages. People scavenged a meagre living from the land and had very little contact with the outside world. In this book the story is about a woman, Nora, who after the death of her daughter, is given the duty of looking after her grandson. Although it is not specified, it is obvious that the child has a very serious developmental problem, so Nora keeps him hidden in her home away from the rest of the villagers. Not long after, her husband also dies and so now she must try to manage the almost impossible care of her grandson on her own.
Nora hires a young girl to help her, but the task becomes increasingly desperate. With the local doctor not able to provide any cure and the local priest refusing to give any support, Nora must turn to the village’s wise woman for hope of some sort of cure. As the desperation of the situation escalates, the series of events leads to an inevitable tragedy. This story is a very sad, but accurate description of the ignorance and poverty that the people of this time endured. However, despite the grimness of the tale, it ends on a surprisingly positive note which took me completely by surprise.