Book Review The Good People

The Good People by Hannah Kent


In the year 1825, in a remote valley lying between the mountains of south-west Ireland, three women are brought together by strange and troubling events.

Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson: a boy who suffers from a mysterious malady and can neither walk nor speak. Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a servant girl, Mary, who soon hears whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall on the widow’s house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person who might be able to help Michaél. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken …


Chosen for our book club this is Hannah Kent’s second novel and like her first, ‘Burial Rites‘ it is a grim read.

Set in the remote area of south-west Ireland in 1825 it tell of the events leading up to the downing death of a very disabled four year old boy. His grandmother has been his carer after the death of her daughter and more recently her husband. She hires a young teenage to help with his care and other duties. Some of the people in the village believe in ‘The Good People’ (fairies with the knowledge to ‘sweep’ people to join them in their realm and replace them with a ‘changeling’). Because of the boy’s strange behaviour, they are convinced that he has been ‘swept’ by the ‘Good People’ and seek help by Nancy Roach, an old woman who is said to have knowledge to heal people.

Around these three main characters are many villagers all of whom are poor, illiterate and living in rudimentary huts, which are often shared with a milking goat. From the beginning Kent sets up an atmosphere charged with menace, superstition and destitution in a cold, wet environment. Kent writes brilliantly about this setting which is a critical part of the novel.

Not a happy read but one has to admire the skill of this author to keep her audience reading what is a perfectly awful tale….

6/10 – Read by Dundas Readers Book Club

Book Review: The good people

The 1st Wed Reading Group at Parramatta Library discussed ‘The good people‘ by Hannah Kent.

This is the second novel written by Hannah Kent after much acclaimed Burial rites.

‘Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference. Continue reading

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent


Second Tuesday Book Group – September 2014




Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others




  • Story about Agnes Magnúsdóttir who was condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men in Iceland in1829.
  • Really liked the book, interesting, emotional; devastating end.
  • Wonderful; great writing good descriptive on relationships. Showed what life really was like for the time; hardship.
  • The writing was very vivid and took the reader on a great journey.
  • One of the best books read this year. Very different, good insight into the way of living and different class of living standards.