The Good People by Hannah Kent
I was lucky enough to be sent a very early copy of this book by Picador books. It will be published in the UK on 9th February 2017.
County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. NÓRA, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot speak and cannot walk and Nóra is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive? MARY arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley.
NANCE’s knowledge keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer. Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheál. As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheál, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.
Based on true events and 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 love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers
This is a powerful novel about the power of belief, superstition, religion and grief. I’d not read Hannah Kent’s work before so was not prepared for her skill at storytelling and keeping you hooked. Its not a comfortable read nor a very cheery one but its told with a passion for words and the lyrical way she has with them. Her sentences are beautiful and full of atmosphere.
The characters live in a time so vastly different from now that its hard for us to understand the things they believed in. It was a time when superstition was rife, when things that couldn’t be explained any other way were given over to folklore and fairies. How easy it is for one small rumour to spread among a close knit and blood related community and the lengths some people would go to to protect their loved ones or themselves.
Sure to be shortlisted for and win many prizes i’m certain. The Good People is one hell of a gripping read.