I read to escape and to learn. I like science fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers and adventure stories.
Wow, has my year of reading started off with a bang. I’ll start with the easy part. Iceland is a country I’ve always wanted to visit. Learning more about its history, farming culture, and the wild landscape has piqued my interest even more. I was fascinated and at times repelled by some of the butchering and slaughter scenes described on the farm. Although many of the place names were unpronounceable (to me), I didn’t let myself get snagged or bothered so as not to break the flow of the narrative.
Agnes’ story unfolds slowly as she recounts her history to the naive assistant priest who has been sent to spiritually counsel her before the execution. At the beginning and end of several chapters are letters and documents from 1829, records of the actual event which in themselves are quite revealing.
I was expecting something dreary and depressing but from the first few pages I felt my gut churning and could not put the book down. Knowing that the book was based on a true story with a sad outcome did not prepare me for the depth of emotion that hit me as I read late into the night. I very quickly became enraged by the inhumane and degrading treatment of Agnes as a prisoner. The further into the book I got, the more invested I became in finding proof of her innocence. Her intelligence and spark made her a target for the corpulent, and self important man who was her judge and jury. As I write this, I am infuriated anew. I am reminded of the horrible treatment of women throughout history especially when they did not conform to rigid codes of pious behavior.
This book screams and tears at me from start to finish. My tears are not only for Agnes who I know was a living, breathing, person but for all the countless women whose stories of unjust imprisonment, humiliation, abuse, and torment will never be told. I think the author did an incredible job weaving a believable account from the history. I say bravo! This is one story that will stay with me for a very long time.