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From the bestselling author of the multi-award-winning Burial Rites County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. The fires on the hills smouldered orange as the women left, pockets charged with ashes to guard them from the night. Watching them fade into the grey fall of snow, Nance thought she could hear Maggie's voice. A whisper in the dark. "Some folk are born different, Nance. From the bestselling author of the multi-award-winning Burial Rites County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. The fires on the hills smouldered orange as the women left, pockets charged with ashes to guard them from the night. Watching them fade into the grey fall of snow, Nance thought she could hear Maggie's voice. A whisper in the dark. "Some folk are born different, Nance. They are born on the outside of things, with a skin a little thinner, eyes a little keener to what goes unnoticed by most. Their hearts swallow more blood than ordinary hearts; the river runs differently for them." 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. Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow's house. Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken...


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From the bestselling author of the multi-award-winning Burial Rites County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. The fires on the hills smouldered orange as the women left, pockets charged with ashes to guard them from the night. Watching them fade into the grey fall of snow, Nance thought she could hear Maggie's voice. A whisper in the dark. "Some folk are born different, Nance. From the bestselling author of the multi-award-winning Burial Rites County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. The fires on the hills smouldered orange as the women left, pockets charged with ashes to guard them from the night. Watching them fade into the grey fall of snow, Nance thought she could hear Maggie's voice. A whisper in the dark. "Some folk are born different, Nance. They are born on the outside of things, with a skin a little thinner, eyes a little keener to what goes unnoticed by most. Their hearts swallow more blood than ordinary hearts; the river runs differently for them." 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. Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow's house. Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken...

30 review for The Good People

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    "Nora, I'm sorry for your trouble"......... ......,"Nora, I'm sorry for your trouble" is a phrase repeated many times by many of the different people in the community. The Irish speak funny! Ha! Nora Leahy"s husband has died. It's the 1820's in Ireland. NOT FUNNY....simply interesting language for this American girl. Immediately I noticed the writing by Hannah Kent. It feels richly texture---plus I was looking up expressive unfamiliar vocabulary words.... such as skib, spaniel, and rath, fios sig "Nora, I'm sorry for your trouble"......... ......,"Nora, I'm sorry for your trouble" is a phrase repeated many times by many of the different people in the community. The Irish speak funny! Ha! Nora Leahy"s husband has died. It's the 1820's in Ireland. NOT FUNNY....simply interesting language for this American girl. Immediately I noticed the writing by Hannah Kent. It feels richly texture---plus I was looking up expressive unfamiliar vocabulary words.... such as skib, spaniel, and rath, fios sigheog ( fairy knowledge), and the understanding of the use of different herbs for healing. Martin seemed to have dropped dead for no apparent reason at the crossroads where the village in County Kerry buries its suicides. Nora is grieving and upset - as you can imagine any wife who loved her husband would be. Until I read another friend's ( Peter), review of this book, I realized how little I knew about the history of Irish folklore and traditional superstitions which had been held by Irish people for centuries. Other than a couple stories about the leprechaun... I didn't remember hearing the word "banshee": an Irish folklore is a spirit in the form of a wailing woman who appears to or is heard by members of a family as a sign that one of them is about to die. Superstitions - curses - rituals - changelings- and herbal remedies are in the limelight of this story. I READ THIS SLOW.... and enjoyed it VERY MUCH!!! After Nora's husband died - her cabin was crowded with neighbors- and was oppressive. The smell was of wet wool and sourness of too many people. Frankly, Nora was sick of all those people in her house for two full days for the rituals of Martin's wake. I couldn't blame her. She has a 4 year grandson named Micheal whom she has been caring for since her own daughter died. Micheal can't walk or talk...( he once did). It's believed he is changeling. People believe the real Micheal was taken by the Good People. Nora tries to recover him from the fairies. A young maid - Mary Clifford- has been looking after Michael. She has her beliefs as well. Nance Roach -- who also tries to recover Micheal from the fairies is blessed with the knowledge of remedies and the ways of "Good People". She knows about the healing powers of plants and berries - and understands how magic works. It turns out the death of Nora's husband is only the first in a series of other unexplained deaths. There is a stillborn child in which the mother gets blamed. Hannah Kent examines these haunting events - ( Nora, Mary, and Nance especially are drawn together to question everything they have known).....through religious beliefs- folklore- medical - and other healing remedies. This story is base on true events ....making this book that much more fascinating & terrific! Thank You Netgalley, Little Brown Company, and Hannah Kent

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    "She was the gatekeeper at the edge of the world. The final human hymn before all fell to wind and shadow and the strange crooning of stars. She was a pagan chorus. An older song." One of the most exciting and nervous moments in the life of a dedicated reader is the minute we open the next book by a writer who produced a masterpiece whose roots are planted deep in our soul, a novel that has never really left our mind since the last page was turned. In this case, I'm talking about Hannah Kent "She was the gatekeeper at the edge of the world. The final human hymn before all fell to wind and shadow and the strange crooning of stars. She was a pagan chorus. An older song." One of the most exciting and nervous moments in the life of a dedicated reader is the minute we open the next book by a writer who produced a masterpiece whose roots are planted deep in our soul, a novel that has never really left our mind since the last page was turned. In this case, I'm talking about Hannah Kent and her debut novel "Burial Rites". I think the vast majority of those who read it adored it and those who didn't still found many things to appreciate. Her sophomore effort is no less exciting, beautiful, haunting and agonizing. The only exception is the lack of a character who could rival Agnes' powerful voice and convictions. The three women in "The Good People" don't even come close, but it doesn't matter because the mysticism that flows through Kent's exquisite own makes this novel a 5-star read. -They say there's portent in the direction of a new year's wind. -What does a wind from the west bring? -Please God, a better year than last. The previous year has brought all kinds of misfortune for Nora. She lost her daughter to a sudden, wasting disease, her husband collapsed after a heart attack and she is left with her grandson, Micheál, who has lost the power of his legs, his speech and his mind. She hires a young woman, Mary, to aid her with her load and pays frequent visits to Nanche, an old woman who claims to possess the intimate knowledge of herbs and fairies. The three women are our ears and ears in the story, each one different in her fears, but with the feeling of despair and helplessness for things beyond their understanding. "Such a dark season of death and strangeness." Kent sets her story perfectly. Strange accidents are taking place, the hens and the chickens are not producing their goods as before, the cold is unusually severe, the fog is too thick, the sun has darkened. For a community that is steeped in superstition and gossiping, these events mean only one thing. The Evil Eye is upon them and they are certain that more wrongs will follow. "They have always been here. They are as old as the sea." The Good People of the title are the Fairy Folk, the main stars in the tradition that has shaped a great part of the outstanding Irish Folk we have all come to love. Nanche believed that all misfortunes have been caused by the creatures of the world beyond and takes it upon herself to right the wrong. Whether she can do it or not is another matter. Her ally is Nora who, driven by her losses, is eager to put the blame on someone who is different, unwanted, unable to defend himself against the madness of a dark time. "Don't be questioning the old ways." At the heart of the story lies the legend of the Changeling. According to tradition, the fairies used to steal human babies from their cradles and leave a child of their own in their place. The fairy child was different in shape and spirit and considered evil by the community. Nora is convinced that the boy is responsible for everything, aided by Nanche. But Mary, whose bright mind is free from superstitions, has come to bond with the boy, much to Nora's dismay. The writing in this novel is nothing short of outstanding. It is simple, mystical, poetic and loaded with tradition. Kent inserts a plethora of traditional Irish customs and superstitions in the narration, many of which play a significant part in the development of the story. Apart from an exquisite plot, this book is a wonderful folk study of the Emerald Island. It is intriguing to witness the way the superstitions shaped and controlled the lives of the residents in the past. And they still do, albeit to a much small extent. The language is beautiful, the interactions are written with respect to the setting of the story, but there are no idioms that would present problems to those who aren't familiar with the Irish dialects. The ambiguity of the convictions of the people is very effective and it was refreshing to see that there isn't much focus on a rivalry between Religion and Tradition. Apart from the local priest who tries to make the people see some sense, the villagers have fully embraced a combination of Christianity and the Old Ways. The problem is that the balance is very uneven.... The characters of the three women are very well-written, interesting but can't be compared to Agnes of "Burial Rites". Still, Kent takes us on a journey in three very different souls. Nanche and Nora are almost fanatics and Nora is a rather contradictory character, since she is against gossips but very much in fear of the Evil Eye. I can't say that I sympathized with her. I understand the depth of her pain, but she was so thick-headed and unfair. To use a well-known equivalent, she reminded me of the cruelty and narrow-mindedness of Catelyn Stark. Too bad no wedding was in sight...Nanche is very ambiguous. I still can't decide whether she truly believed in what she did or it was her excuse to make herself useful. Mary is a character that shines. She seems to live in the periphery of the action, but I feel that her importance is significant. She is like us in a sense, watching and bonding with the poor, blameless child, feeling unable to stop what is coming. I fully sided with her decisions and convictions. Hannah Kent is a born writer. Her pen is magic, her ideas and characters jump out of the page, people of their time and place but people like us. This book is a hymn to the rich Irish tradition, a mystical, haunting, dark, violent journey to places and ideas of a more innocent, more ignorant era. It is a novel to be cherished and appreciated by readers who desire meaningful stories and knowledge in the hands of a trusted artist. It is a human study of the darkest hours of our existence, when we're faced with despair and death and don't know in whom to trust our hopes. It is a book by Hannah Kent. This should be reason enough for you to read it.... My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  3. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    ‘how frightened we are of being known, and yet how desperately we long for it.’ and reading this story is coming to know the unknown tale of nance roche, her and her small villages belief in superstition, and the tragic consequences because of it. slowly building word upon word, line upon line, a living, breathing story emerges from the pages of this book. the writing is quite outstanding. every word transported me straight to a rural parts of ireland, during those bleak months leading into t ‘how frightened we are of being known, and yet how desperately we long for it.’ and reading this story is coming to know the unknown tale of nance roche, her and her small villages belief in superstition, and the tragic consequences because of it. slowly building word upon word, line upon line, a living, breathing story emerges from the pages of this book. the writing is quite outstanding. every word transported me straight to a rural parts of ireland, during those bleak months leading into the famine, where death was starting to become common. the raw emotion from the characters made me feel like i was standing right beside them, witnessing everything they were witnessing. reading this book was a chilling, but really intriguing, experience. and such an insightful glimpse into what was an unfortunate moment in history all those years ago. and i would be remiss if i didnt mention there are a couple of somewhat descriptive, highly unsettling scenes which involve the cruel treatment of a child. given the historical context of the story, i can understand the characters rationale for their actions, but that does not make reading those scenes any easier. so just a trigger warning for those wanting to stay away from scenes depicting child abuse. difficult moments aside, i will pretty much read anything by HK at this point. she has an unparalleled talent for taking some on the most harrowing, yet drastically overlooked, moments in history and making them known. ↠ 4.5 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !! Hannah Kent’s ”The Good People” is a tale of the lore and superstitions of Ireland in the 1800s, a place and time where fairies are seen in a different light, not the Disney-fied images of Tinker Bell, or even the “god motherly” Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Magical, tiny, helpful beings, if occasionally impish and prone to temperamental outbursts like Tink. A tale of those who believe in fairies and superstitions, and a tale of those who seek to eradicate this belief, the C !! NOW AVAILABLE !! Hannah Kent’s ”The Good People” is a tale of the lore and superstitions of Ireland in the 1800s, a place and time where fairies are seen in a different light, not the Disney-fied images of Tinker Bell, or even the “god motherly” Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Magical, tiny, helpful beings, if occasionally impish and prone to temperamental outbursts like Tink. A tale of those who believe in fairies and superstitions, and a tale of those who seek to eradicate this belief, the Catholic Church not willing, or no longer willing, to allow the open practice of belief in such things, or practices associated with such unnatural beliefs. As this tale unfolds in County Kerry 1825, a wake is being held, Nóra Leahy’s husband Martin has passed, unexpectedly, at the crossroads, leading to much conjecture of the portent that carries. Nance Roche, a bean feasa,wise woman, appears at Nóra’s door, offering assistance for the wake, offers her services for the caoineadh the keening. She’s sent her grandson Micheál Kelliher to the neighbors, wanting to spare him, her really, from the stares. Micheál came to live with them when their only child, Johanna, died. Nóra had gone to visit Johanna and Tadgh and Micheál once, when he was but two, walking and talking, laughing, reaching, smiling. Now, he’s a shell of his former self, physically diminished, not speaking, unable to walk, his legs too weak to support him. As if Nóra hadn’t suffered enough with the loss of her Johanna, she now she has lost her husband. How can she do this, care for the livestock, and care for Micheál? She hires young Mary Clifford, a young teen from Annamore looking to be one-less-mouth-to-feed-at-home and to earn some wages to help her family. Mary is no stranger to caring for younger siblings, but Micheál requires so much more care than the average child. Nóra has already had a doctor look at Micheál, but he said there was nothing that he could do, so she turns to the new priest, Father Healy, requesting that he pray over Micheál, who tells her she should do the best she can. Nóra sees nothing of her Johanna in Micheál, nothing of his father, Tadgh, either, and the whispers of the women gathering round the well say that Micheál is but a changeling, a fairy child left in place of the real Micheál, convincing her to enlist the aid of Nance Roche to have the real Micheál returned to her, sending this changeling back to the fairies. The whole valley, it seems, is already convinced of his status, gleefully sharing their theories, their beliefs in these pagan ideas while enlisting the Priest’s help in getting rid of Nance and her pagan ways. This unholy trinity tribunal of women, Nóra, Mary and Nance set out to determine if Micheál is really a changeling, with Nance knowing the ways to test such things, to prove his changeling status, if he’s been “Swept. Taken. Carried away by the Good People.” Set in an enigmatically atmospheric era brimming with conflict, pain and poverty, dominated by the distant Catholic Church, an order out of synch with the simple lives of these people, their needs, their daily struggles. There are occasional moments of light, moments of a shared sense of purpose, but this isn’t a light or happy tale. I can’t say I was swept away (by the Good People i.e. fairies, or otherwise) from the start, but fairly early on I was regretting having to put this book down. I loved aspects of this tale; the writing is sprinkled with the language, the turns of phrase, the expressions of Ireland. The imagery, the land, the people, I could envision it all, I could feel it all, and Hannah Kent’s love and compassion for this time, this place and these people. Pub Date: 19 Sep 2017 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Little, Brown and Company

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    The Good People by Hannah Kent is an impeccably researched story set in Ireland in 1825 and readers interested in pagan traditions and herbal medicine of the time may well enjoy reading this second novel by Hannah Kent. I was however disappointed with character development and the plot of this story The novel is set in County Kerry in 1825 in a remote valley lying between the mountains of south-west Ireland,near the Flesk river of Killarney, three women are brought together by strange and troubl The Good People by Hannah Kent is an impeccably researched story set in Ireland in 1825 and readers interested in pagan traditions and herbal medicine of the time may well enjoy reading this second novel by Hannah Kent. I was however disappointed with character development and the plot of this story The novel is set in County Kerry in 1825 in a remote valley lying between the mountains of south-west Ireland,near the Flesk river of Killarney, three women are brought together by strange and troubling events. While the novel is a work of fiction, it does take its inspirations from a true event of infanticide. Image: I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this novel having loved Burial Rites and while I was not disappointed by the writing or the athmosphere that Kent is renowned for in Burial Rites I was a little disappointed with the plot and felt that the book dragged and for me this was down to too much attention to detail and research and little to character development and plot. A wonderful sense of time and place however is very evident in the book and anyone who is interested in the folklore and lotions and potions of the time or fairies and their curses are going to be well impressed with this book. The prose is poetic and her attention to period detail impressive. I did find the story dragged and became quite repetitive and none of the characters were particularly memorable for me and while I liked the book it didn't meet my expectations. I did rate the book three stars and for me this is a book I liked and well worth the read but not one for my favourite list. I recommend The Good People to readers who have an interest in Irish Fairy lore or Irish rural life in the pre-famine days of the nineteenth century.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    The book opens with the death of Nora's husband Martin. Nora is now left to be the sole caretaker of her grandson, a four year old that can neither talk nor walk, screams constantly at night and it hard to pacify. Grief stricken, Nora manages to convince herself that he is not her real grandson but rather a changeling, left in his place by the fairies. She will do anything to get her "real" grandson back. Nance is a healer but is also said to know the ways of the fairies. It is 1825 in Ireland an The book opens with the death of Nora's husband Martin. Nora is now left to be the sole caretaker of her grandson, a four year old that can neither talk nor walk, screams constantly at night and it hard to pacify. Grief stricken, Nora manages to convince herself that he is not her real grandson but rather a changeling, left in his place by the fairies. She will do anything to get her "real" grandson back. Nance is a healer but is also said to know the ways of the fairies. It is 1825 in Ireland and superstition and the old ways are still prominent but the local priest is making inroads on the belief patterns of the villagers. Soon these two belief systems will clash and things will never be the same. Atmospherically dark, the subject is dark as well, Kent turns her hand to another true case in the past, and does it ably. Her descriptions, as in her first book, pulls the reader into this dark and tragic time. Grief can take many turns and in this book the one it takes is quite horrible and not easy to read. Yet, her writing and her prose is once again outstanding, though I did feel at times it was somewhat overdone. Also found it repetitive in some instances and felt at times that this hindered the storytelling and the pace. It is, however, another unforgettable book, an impactful one, not easy to forget. The Wonder, has the same darkness and the Irish setting though not the same subject and The Stolen child, is another book that deals with changeling and fairies. If you liked either of those, one should also find much to admire in this, I did. Can't quite get it out of my head. ARC from publisher. Publishes in the US in September by Little, Brown.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    This is an excellent book, beautifully written and very atmospheric. It is also very similar to Burial Rites so if you liked that you will probably like this too. Again the book is based on a real life story and this time is carried along on the superstitions and beliefs of Irish country folk with very little education and a long history of believing in fairies, the Good People of the title. Not that there is any good about them since they are blamed for every bad thing that happens from sickness This is an excellent book, beautifully written and very atmospheric. It is also very similar to Burial Rites so if you liked that you will probably like this too. Again the book is based on a real life story and this time is carried along on the superstitions and beliefs of Irish country folk with very little education and a long history of believing in fairies, the Good People of the title. Not that there is any good about them since they are blamed for every bad thing that happens from sickness to bad crops to cows producing less milk than usual. As with her first book this one is full of poverty, hunger, discomfort, dirt and darkness. I grieved for poor little Michael and his miserable life. And even though I hated all the adults for the terrible things they did, I felt sorry for them to for being reduced to that way of life. When a boiled potato and a cup of goat's milk is a satisfactory meal things are tough! Obviously a very emotive book as I still want to go in there and pull little Michael out and give him a better life:) Highly recommended although personally I would like it if the author would pull herself out of the peat bogs and the cold for her next book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    The Good People is about when good people go off the rails due to grief, lore, superstition, and desperation! It's nineteen century Ireland and times are tough. People still believe in fairies and believe they can curse people or steal people away. Nora's husband Martin has died suddenly leaving her to care for their deceased daughter's child (Michael) on her own. The child is not a healthy one. He once walked and talked like any healthy toddler then one day her son-in-law showed up at Martin and The Good People is about when good people go off the rails due to grief, lore, superstition, and desperation! It's nineteen century Ireland and times are tough. People still believe in fairies and believe they can curse people or steal people away. Nora's husband Martin has died suddenly leaving her to care for their deceased daughter's child (Michael) on her own. The child is not a healthy one. He once walked and talked like any healthy toddler then one day her son-in-law showed up at Martin and Nora's home. He informed them that their daughter was dead and that her once healthy child can no longer speak or walk. Nora and Martin have kept the child hidden worried about what their friends and neighbors will think. Nora hires a young woman named Mary to work for her. Mary's main job is taking care of Michael and the home. Mary is initially horrified at Michael's condition but begins to feel sympathy for him. Initially she believes him to be a changeling but as the book progresses, she has her doubts. Fear, rumors and gossip are common in this community. The women talk at the watering hole and believe that something is very wrong with Michael. He is not like other children. He is hidden away and their imaginations get the better of them coming up with ideas as to why Nora keeps him hidden. Illness and death are common and the villagers are looking for something or someone to blame. Michael is suspected to be a changeling - a child of "The Good People" left behind when they took the human child, Michael. Believing that her grandson is a changeling, Nora turns to Nance, known for her unusual healing powers. She is feared and revered. She has ways of healing the villagers when traditional medicine does not work. Nora asks for Nance to help her get her real grandson back. Most of the villagers do not see the harm in having Nance around, but the new priest wants her gone. Other villages begin to turn against her while some still come visit her in secret. Nance mainly uses herbs to heal people and relies on the "gifts of thanks" from villagers when she is about to provide them with "the cure." Upon inspecting Michael, Nance states her belief that Michael is a changeling and offers her cure. Nance, Mary and Nora attempt to rid Nora of the changeling while bringing Michael back from "The Good People". This book is based on the real life case in nineteenth century Ireland where a woman was acquitted of a crime. Her defense was that she was trying to banish a fairy. Once again, Kent has taken a real life event and dazzled readers with it. I loved Kent's book "Burial Rites". I could not read it fast enough to see what would happen next. The Good People was not as fast a read for me but it grabbed me and did not let go. It is a story about loss, about wanting to believe something so badly that you can't see the truth, about not knowing what the truth is, about shame, about superstition, about love, about ignorance, about fear and about desperation. Kent gives us a glimpse into the lives of three women living in nineteenth century Ireland. Women who live in poor close knit communities where you know everyone and everyone knows your business. Communities where one's fear makes the decisions for that person. Where reason and common sense something have to take a back seat to ignorance and superstition. A time where people do not have the luxury of modern times to go to a library or on the internet to find answers to their questions. They looked to nature, folklore and superstition to explain changes in human behavior, health or appearance. I found that I both liked and felt empathy for all of the characters are varying parts of the book. They were put in situations that no one could explain to them - why did a seemingly healthy man die suddenly? Why did a seemingly healthy baby become so gravely disabled? Nature and fairies were answers they turned to most. The people are living in a harsh environment. The cows are not producing as much milk, crops are not surviving, the people are improvised. They need something to blame. Could Michael be the reason? Is he a changeling? This is a bleak book. Kent is brilliant in creating atmosphere in this book. I could almost feel the chill in the air, see the mist rising from the ground, feel the fog, smell the grass. The landscape is also a character in this book. Life here is extreme. What occurs when three women take extreme measures to save a young boy? Beautifully written and haunting a times. This tragic tale is beautifully told and lingered with me after I finished reading it. This is a book I sat and ponder after I finished reading. How does one make sense out of something she does not understand? What power does superstition play in our lives today? Thought provoking and masterfully told, The Good People does not disappoint. I received a copy of this book from Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my ow. See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    Since this book is more about the series of events that led something to happen than what actually happened, my full review is a probably a bit too revealing! Here's the short version: In nineteenth-century Ireland, a new widow grapples with the hysteria surrounding her grandson, a four-year-old boy stricken with a mysterious condition that renders him unable to walk or talk. Desperate for a cure, she seeks the assistance of the village handy woman. It's a slow-moving story full of nature descri Since this book is more about the series of events that led something to happen than what actually happened, my full review is a probably a bit too revealing! Here's the short version: In nineteenth-century Ireland, a new widow grapples with the hysteria surrounding her grandson, a four-year-old boy stricken with a mysterious condition that renders him unable to walk or talk. Desperate for a cure, she seeks the assistance of the village handy woman. It's a slow-moving story full of nature descriptions and introspection. The atmospheric setting and community dynamics were engrossing, so I quickly settled into the story. Alternating between the perspectives of three women, Hannah Kent explores the capacity for depravity in otherwise "good" people and shows the terrible effects righteous certainty. Warning: child abuse. Nóra had always believed herself to be a good woman. A kind woman. But perhaps, she thought, we are good only when life makes it easy for us to be so. Maybe the heart hardens when good fortune is not there to soften it. (Ireland, 1825-1826) Nóra Leahy's husband dies unexpectedly. Suddenly, she's a widow and the sole caretaker of their four-year-old grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot walk or speak; he stares blankly into space and wails intermittently throughout the night. Unlike her husband, Nóra never bonded with the boy. She resents that he can't show her any affection or appreciation. Since the "bone-racked" boy arrived, her life and the lives of her neighbors have been plagued by misfortune: the untimely deaths of Nóra's husband and daughter, bloody eggs, and dry cows. There are whispers that he's a changeling and predictions that there'll be another death in her family soon.  She keeps Micheál hidden indoors, away from the eyes of prying neighbors, but that only fuels the gossip. Nóra is tormented by the suggestion that her grandson is responsible for everyone's recent woes, including her own. With her mind clouded by grief, loneliness, exhaustion, and alcohol, she becomes obsessed with restoring him to the lively boy he was before he came to her. She had the sense that something terrible was happening. That in some irreparable way the world was changing, that it spun away from her, and that in the whirl of change she was being flung to some forsaken corner. Nance is the village handy woman. She provides herbs and cures for various ailments and assists in births and deaths. She has always lived on the fringes of society because of her differences: "She stood in for that which was not and could not be understood." While people usually keep her at a distance, they aren't afraid to come to her when they have no other options. She's been allowed to make a home for herself at the outskirts of this village for the past two decades, but the new priest is turning the townspeople against her. He preaches that their Catholic faith and superstitious beliefs are incompatible. People are beginning to make connections between Nance's mysterious work and several unfortunate incidents that have occurred around the village. She can feel the heavy weight of the community's doubt and suspicion bear down on her. She knows that she can't handle being exiled at her advanced age. Rather than abandon the old ways, she clings tighter to tradition. If she can cure Nóra Leahy's grandson, she'll be able to prove her knowledge and usefulness to the townspeople. There was no telling the shape of a heart from the face of the one who carried it. (Mary) Fourteen-year-old Mary was forced to leave home and seek work to help provide for her large family. Nóra hires her to help with chores and the boy. When she meets Nóra, she thinks she has found a safe place to live for the next six months. Nóra wasn't fully forthcoming about her situation, so Mary is shocked when she enters the home and discovers the child's condition. She is frightened at first, but becomes very protective of the boy. The valley was beautiful. The slow turning towards winter had left the stubble on the fields and the wild grasses bronzed, and the scutter of cloud left shadows brooding across the soil. It was its own world. Only the narrow road, wending through the flat of the valley floor, indicated the world beyond the mountains. I *had* to read this book because the description reminded me so much of The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, one of my favorite books from 2016. They are very different stories, but both books are based on real events and have an immersive setting. There was a little too much description of the landscape in Nance's chapters, but her bond with nature is central to her story. Spending time in the claustrophobic village was so hypnotic that I thought I misread the genre. The haunting atmosphere makes it feels like there's really something supernatural lurking in the periphery. I think that's a credit to how objectively the author approaches her characters. She captures how mysterious and unknowable the world must have felt to these people. It was jarring when we finally broke outside the confines of the community and are forced to recall how secluded these villagers were. The people in the tight-knit community are "tied to one another by blood and labour and a shared understanding of the traditions stamped into the soil by those who had come before them." Mary is the outsider's perspective but she also places faith in the superstitions. Isolation and lack of education create a fertile ground for panic:"A lot of fears are born of sitting too long alone in the dark."  Once suspicion is cast and the suggestion of supernatural causes grips the community's imagination, hysteria thrives. Reason exists in the town, but it doesn't hold the same power that superstition does. Deep-seated beliefs and power differentials make it difficult for even those with conflicted consciences to follow their moral compass. Sometimes their closeness to the people involved prevents them from seeing how dire the situation has gotten until it's too late. "It is out of respect that I call them the Good People, for they do not like to be thinking of themselves as bad craturs. They have a desire to get into Heaven, same as you." (Nance) I expected a more uplifting story based on the description: "three women in nineteenth-century Ireland are drawn together in the hope of rescuing a child from a superstitious community." From an outsider's perspective, it actually seemed like the opposite was happening! This makes The Good People far more disturbing than The Wonder. A helpless boy is being mistreated in increasingly awful ways and there doesn't seem to be anyone who is capable of effectively advocating for him. The title refers to the fairies ("said to be of middle nature between Man and Angel"), but also to the characters. As sickening as some of their thoughts and choices are, no one in this story thinks of themselves as a bad person–even their worst acts are rationalized with "noble" intentions. At Nóra's weakest point, Nance provides her with both a reason and a remedy for her grandson's suffering; surely it would be a disservice to the boy to ignore Nance's offer. Nance truly believes her contributions are essential to the community and that her skills can help the boy. There are also those in the community that weaponize belief for their own rationalized purposes. "All this talk of fairies. Sure, people will tell themselves anything to avert their eyes from the truth of a matter." Trauma, desperation, and tradition converge, driving people to commit terrible acts that they see as justifiable. This work of historical fiction felt like a horror story, because it's a reminder of the wickedness lurking in ordinary people. Does almost everyone have a breaking point? Are some people's thresholds for pain and suffering much lower than others? Nóra's transformation was one of the most chilling parts. She had never visited Nance for a cure before. She didn't have a history of bad behavior. However, something shifts inside of her after she experiences one too many traumas in short succession. I don't think the Nóra or her neighbors could've ever predicted the position she'd end up in. (view spoiler)[It was interesting to see how the women see themselves after they've been exposed and the (figurative) spell has been broken. I was also intrigued by the community's reaction. They harshly judge the women, but at the same time the results of the women's actions seem to bring a disturbing sense of relief to the community. (hide spoiler)] It's a very uncomfortable story to read, but I really liked the sense of place and the way Kent approached her characters. I'm really looking forward to reading Kent's debut Burial Rites! ‘The cod swims in deeper waters. There’s a mighty peace in the deep, and that is all the cod is after. The untroubled deep. But a storm will toss the water about like a devil. Fish, weed, sand, stones, even the old bones and bits of wrecked ships, ’tis all tossed feathers when the storm hits. Fish that like the deep are thrown into the shallows, and fish that have a need of the shallows are pushed into the deep. ‘Begod, I tell no lie. But what does the cod do when he senses a storm in the water? He swallows stones. Faith, ’tis true or I’m not your da. Your cod will fill himself with stones to stay out of the mighty swell of the sea. He will sink himself. All fish are afraid of thunder, but only some know how to keep themselves out of the way of it." RELATED: • “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good, or else that it's a well-considered act in conformity with natural law.”―Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (pulled from Everything You Love Will Burn by Vegas Tenold) • An expert asks: Do we all have an evil, dark side? (USA Today, March 2007) - "• So-called inner character seldom survives if familiar social guideposts, such as family and normal routines, fall away. • Few people will challenge a widely accepted injustice." I came across this article while following a recent case (Dallas Morning News, October 2017) that reminds me a little bit of Micheál's story. •"True horror can prove so quiet that one almost believes nothing is happening." - Stephane Gerson • A Qualitative Analysis of Power Differentials in Ethical Situations in Academia - Saving to read for later! ______________ I received this book for free from Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It's available now!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Hannah Kent is a fantastic writer. She crafts compelling stories, rich characters, and depicts lush settings with her words. I fell in love with her writing in 2014 after reading her debut novel Burial Rites, and was really excited to read another book from her. This one is similar in that it retells a historical event with the author's creative liberty. It follows a woman who is widowed at the very beginning of the story and left to care for her grandson who has some problems. It ties together Hannah Kent is a fantastic writer. She crafts compelling stories, rich characters, and depicts lush settings with her words. I fell in love with her writing in 2014 after reading her debut novel Burial Rites, and was really excited to read another book from her. This one is similar in that it retells a historical event with the author's creative liberty. It follows a woman who is widowed at the very beginning of the story and left to care for her grandson who has some problems. It ties together Irish folklore with religious themes and ultimately tells a harrowing but thought-provoking story. I think it may have been just a tad too long, but otherwise a wonderful reading experience. Couldn't put it down.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Just finished Hannah Kent's second novel (I loved her first) and am a slightly overwrought emotional wreck. Who knew a book about fairies and murder could have so many themes and give me so many (often uncomfortable) feels. Stunningly written and raises some important questions but trigger warning also depicts some child abuse. Just finished Hannah Kent's second novel (I loved her first) and am a slightly overwrought emotional wreck. Who knew a book about fairies and murder could have so many themes and give me so many (often uncomfortable) feels. Stunningly written and raises some important questions but trigger warning also depicts some child abuse.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Aussie author Hannah Kent exploded onto the literary scene in 2013 with the evocative historical fiction novel, Burial Rites. Not only did it win numerous awards, but was also universally praised. As a result, fans like my good self have been waiting (in)patiently to see what Hannah will come up with next. Could The Good People live up to the expectations? I am pleased to say the answer is an unequivocal yes in what is another memorable and engrossing look at a time that we in this day and age c Aussie author Hannah Kent exploded onto the literary scene in 2013 with the evocative historical fiction novel, Burial Rites. Not only did it win numerous awards, but was also universally praised. As a result, fans like my good self have been waiting (in)patiently to see what Hannah will come up with next. Could The Good People live up to the expectations? I am pleased to say the answer is an unequivocal yes in what is another memorable and engrossing look at a time that we in this day and age can only dream of. Killarney Ireland in 1825 and Nora Leahy, beset with grief after the loss of her only daughter Johanna is forced to endure more pain when two local men bring to her the body of her husband Martin. Realizing that many people will want to visit her to pay their respects, Nora will ask one of the two men to take her grandson Micheál to her nearest neighbor. The boy at the age of 4 cannot walk, or speak and she has done her best hide him from the outside world. After talking to her Neighbor, Nora agrees to hire a young girl to help around her property and with Micheál. She remembers a younger grandson who could talk and walk and in desperation will seek the assistance of eccentric local healer Nance Roche, who says she speaks to fairies or the good people as she calls them. As more and more of the locals become aware of the child they are convinced that he is responsible for all the wrongs in the village. Nance is convinced the boy is a changeling and believes she knows how to banish it and bring the real Micheál back. In order to do this, it will call for drastic and harsh measures that could end the child's life. Kent overall has done a wonderful job of combining the vivid scenes of early 19th century rural Ireland with the land and the way people speak and the superstitions that blended awkwardly with the religious overtures of the time. It would be easy to understand of how people in a time when education levels were not what they are and medical science was only starting to understand illnesses that confusion could lead to hysteria. With exquisite writing that sucks you in from the first page, The Good People cements the author as one of not only Australia's, but the world's great writers and comes highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    4.5★s The grief was etched deeply on Nóra Leahy’s face as she stood in shocked disbelief beside the body of her husband Martin. After losing their daughter Johanna earlier in the year, Nóra hadn’t thought things could get worse. But now with both her husband and daughter gone, the burden of caring for her four year old grandson Micheál, the boy who wasn’t right in the head; couldn’t speak or walk – fell solely on her shoulders. Her shame had her hiding the child away – the gossips of the town wou 4.5★s The grief was etched deeply on Nóra Leahy’s face as she stood in shocked disbelief beside the body of her husband Martin. After losing their daughter Johanna earlier in the year, Nóra hadn’t thought things could get worse. But now with both her husband and daughter gone, the burden of caring for her four year old grandson Micheál, the boy who wasn’t right in the head; couldn’t speak or walk – fell solely on her shoulders. Her shame had her hiding the child away – the gossips of the town would be cruel she knew… Nóra’s best friend Peg O’Shea advised her to hire a maid to help care for Micheál – so fourteen year old Mary Clifford came to share Nóra’s home. Her initial shock when she spied Micheál’s deformities had her wanting to flee, but then her compassion overcame her. Mary had younger siblings herself and was used to caring for them. This wouldn’t be very different – would it? Murmurs of discontent rippled through the townsfolk as little by little, things began to go wrong. The superstitious nature of some had them inferring that the fairies were interfering in their lives. Nóra had nowhere else to turn – the one with the Knowledge; the one who could cure with herbs and words would bring her grandson back to her. Nance Roche could speak to the Good People to return Micheál to the boy he once was. Nóra was sure of it. So Mary and Nóra walked the long distance to Nance’s dwelling with Micheál in their arms… The Good People by Aussie author Hannah Kent is an intense, heartbreaking look at the long held superstitions of Ireland and is based on a true event which occurred in County Kerry in 1826. (The Author’s Note at the end of the book makes very interesting reading). The majority of the Irish folk believed deeply in the fairies; the Good People – the rituals the believers performed to protect themselves and their loved ones were as necessary to them as locking our front door is to us. Deeply engaging, The Good People had me right in the poverty stricken streets from the first to the last page. Hannah Kent is definitely an author to watch. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I loved Hannah Kent’s previous novel, “Burial Rites,” and was delighted to read her latest novel. This is also set in a rural, isolated community – in this case 1825 Ireland. Nora Leahy lives with her husband, Martin, and her daughter’s son, four year old Micheal. We meet Nora on the day her beloved husband suddenly collapses and dies. As the village community gather in her house, Nora is quick to hide away young Micheal with her neighbour, Peg. It some becomes apparent that Micheal cannot speak I loved Hannah Kent’s previous novel, “Burial Rites,” and was delighted to read her latest novel. This is also set in a rural, isolated community – in this case 1825 Ireland. Nora Leahy lives with her husband, Martin, and her daughter’s son, four year old Micheal. We meet Nora on the day her beloved husband suddenly collapses and dies. As the village community gather in her house, Nora is quick to hide away young Micheal with her neighbour, Peg. It some becomes apparent that Micheal cannot speak or walk and that, having had the boy brought to them by their son in law, after the death of their daughter, the couple have hidden him away from prying eyes. This is a darkly unsettling novel, which deals with superstition, gossip and blame. Nora drinks and is unable to cope with the loss of her husband. She goes to the local town and recruits fourteen year old Mary Clifford to help her. Nora is alert to every comment about her, and her grandson, and – despite the disapproval of the new priest, Father Healy – she comes to rely on the local wise woman, Nance Roche. A chance remark by her son in law, when he visits, leads Nora to suspect that her grandson is a ‘changling,’ and, with Martin’s death, it feels as though a ‘shadow has dropped on the village.’ As Father Healy says the child cannot be healed, she turns to the old ways, with disastrous consequences… Based upon a true story, this is beautifully written, but deeply depressing and unsettling to read. It is best when it looks at the relationship between the three women: Nora, Nance and Mary. As Nora attempts to cope with being left alone, aware of how bad luck and superstitions are aimed at her door, she turns to the old ways and the folklore, herbs and healing of those times are recreated extremely believably. Still, this is a novel which is often hard to read, however beautiful the prose. It would be a good choice for book groups, with a lot to discuss and is a haunting read, which will stay with me. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4★ “It was not the time to tempt the Devil or the fairies. People disappeared on Samhain Eve. Small children went missing. They were lured into ringforts and bogs and mountain sides with music and lights, and were never seen again by their parents.” Samhain Eve was ‘celebrated’ in old Celtic times as the liminal space between the seasons as they were going into winter. It is also the boundary between old and new, seen and unseen, this world and the other world. It is probably the origin of Hallowe 4★ “It was not the time to tempt the Devil or the fairies. People disappeared on Samhain Eve. Small children went missing. They were lured into ringforts and bogs and mountain sides with music and lights, and were never seen again by their parents.” Samhain Eve was ‘celebrated’ in old Celtic times as the liminal space between the seasons as they were going into winter. It is also the boundary between old and new, seen and unseen, this world and the other world. It is probably the origin of Halloween, All Hallows Eve, which is now the day before All Saints Day in the Christian calendar. This is a story very much about the old customs and less so about their challenging the church, although that is an important element. The Good People are evil fairies. There, I’ve said it. Now I’ll be blinked or blasted or otherwise disappeared. This is a grim story. Probably as grim as the author's debut novel, the much acclaimed Burial Rites, which I loved. I wish I had known that this was also inspired by a true story, but it was only in the Author’s Note at the end. I should remember to read them first. I think I’d have appreciated this more if I’d known. Kent’s writing is as evocative as ever. “December arrived and bled the days of sunlight, while the nights grew bitter, wind-rattled. The water that pooled outside beneath the doorstep was tight with ice by morning and starlings lit upon the thatched roofs of the valley, circling the smoking chimney holes for warmth.” She shows us how frightening it would be to live with those superstitions. We talk today of cross-cultural training and learning to respect the customs and beliefs of others. At this time in Ireland, those customs and beliefs could change from one side of the hill to another. Mary is a young girl from the village of Annamore who has gone to work for the widow Nora in another village. When they walk to the well, she is greeted strangely. “Some spat on the ground. ‘God be between us and harm,’ whispered another. ‘Tis your red hair,’ Nóra muttered to Mary. ‘My red hair?’ ‘Do you not meet with the spitting in Annamore?’ ‘Never on my life.’” . . . ‘Why did they spit on the ground when they saw my hair?’ ‘They think you might have the evil eye.’ Mary shifted uncomfortably, but said nothing. ‘Don’t be vexed over it. ’Tis just the way of it here.’ ‘Sorcha seems a lively girl.’ ‘Sorcha? What that one knows at cow-time the whole countryside will be repeating before moonrise.’” Poor Mary. [But isn't that last sentence the most wonderful description of how fast gossip travels?!] Mary has been brought in to help care for Nora’s afflicted grandson who is four and used to walk and talk and play but who can now only shriek and flail around uncontrollably. She has left her loving but bitterly poor home full of brothers and sisters because they are slowly starving to death. She’s already lost some. “‘All day and all night they’d cough. They gave up their lives a little cough at a time. But now they are gone to the angels.’” I was reminded of Angela's Ashes here, but this book doesn’t have any of the hopefulness that I seem to remember Frank McCourt managed to find room for in his heartbreaking memoir. Of course, maybe it's because I know he survived that I remember it more fondly. And now to Nance, whom nobody called a witch, but it was always assumed she was in league with the fairies. She had ‘the knowledge’. She says she learned it from her aunt, who had been ‘swept’ (abducted by fairies with a substitute – changeling – left in her place), but she was brought back – returned. “‘Maggie?’ ‘Yes, Nance.’ ‘How do you know all the things that you know?’ ‘Some folk are forced to the edges by their difference.’ Maggie brought an unthinking hand up to her scar. ‘But ’tis at the edges that they find their power.’” So Nance is a firm believer in changelings. Post-partum depression was probably attributed to a woman having been ‘swept’ (not her real self) and then presumably ‘returned’ if she magically came good again. Creepy stuff. Nance had herbs and potions and rituals, all of which she believed in herself. She was as poor as it is possible to be and still be alive, I think. “‘What happened to your teeth?’ ‘Ah, there was time enough for me to lose them when I’d nothing for them to do. But here, let me take a look at you.’” She was the person they came to when the Church couldn’t help and the doctor was too expensive. She’d been banished from her own valley years before. “Nance knew that the only reason they had allowed her this damp cabin between mountain and wood and river for twenty-odd years was because she stood in for that which was not and could not be understood. She was the gatekeeper at the edge of the world. The final human hymn before all fell to wind and shadow and the strange creaking of stars. She was a pagan chorus. An older song.” Nora eventually seeks her out for help with the afflicted grandson, and that is the story upon which Kent based this tale. Beautiful reading, dreadful times. You just want to shake them all and feed them! I’ll leave you with one last tale: “‘God’s truth, there are women who turn themselves into hares to suck milk from the cows at night.’ There were some raised eyebrows. Áine rolled her eyes. ‘Faith, ’tis true with God as my witness. Once, there was a Corkman. He saw a hare drinking from his cow – suckling it, straight from the udder! – and he got his gun and shot it with a bullet made from sixpence. He followed the blood trail and sure, if he didn’t find an old woman sitting by her fire, her leg bleeding.’” What a time! The writing and research are terrific, the story rather terrifying, and the telling of it a bit repetitious for me, but perhaps that was my mood.

  16. 4 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    I'm sure Ms Kent did her research, and there is some beautiful descriptive writing in there, but frankly I was bored. From around page 200 or so I speed-read the rest just to see how it finished. But did I really care? I did not. Some Irish sounding dialogue does not a character make. Nice touches: the blending of true herbal wisdom and folk beliefs. The way people will believe in whatever works best for them, whether it is the methods of the handy woman or the magicking of holy water finicked ar I'm sure Ms Kent did her research, and there is some beautiful descriptive writing in there, but frankly I was bored. From around page 200 or so I speed-read the rest just to see how it finished. But did I really care? I did not. Some Irish sounding dialogue does not a character make. Nice touches: the blending of true herbal wisdom and folk beliefs. The way people will believe in whatever works best for them, whether it is the methods of the handy woman or the magicking of holy water finicked around by someone who claims that his particular superstition is "true belief" (Yo). One line that made me smile: A warning not to take too much drink. 'Aye, I know. I know. "Drink makes you shoot the landlord."' 'Worse than that, it makes you miss."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    Even in modern Ireland, Celtic folklore still makes an impact. As a boy my Dad loved to fill my head with piseogs and old superstitions: it's terrible luck to meet a red-haired woman on your journey, frogs can cure toothache, turning your coat inside out will keep the fairies away (I have tons more). There is a fairy fort on my neighbour's farm which has always remained overgrown, because if you damage one, you're asking for trouble. Schoolkids make a Brigid's cross from rushes every February, w Even in modern Ireland, Celtic folklore still makes an impact. As a boy my Dad loved to fill my head with piseogs and old superstitions: it's terrible luck to meet a red-haired woman on your journey, frogs can cure toothache, turning your coat inside out will keep the fairies away (I have tons more). There is a fairy fort on my neighbour's farm which has always remained overgrown, because if you damage one, you're asking for trouble. Schoolkids make a Brigid's cross from rushes every February, which is meant to be hung over doors to ward off evil. And I'm still afraid of the banshee from Darby O'Gill and the Little People (I know it's a Disney film but she's terrifying!) However there was a time when fairy lore was a central part of everyday Irish life. Based on true events, The Good People is set the Flesk valley of County Kerry in 1825. The story begins with a wake, as Nora Leahy's husband has dropped dead of a heart attack. Stricken with grief, she hires Mary Clifford, a teenage maid, to help her with chores and take care of her crippled grandson Micheál. Nora maintains that the troubled four-year-old wasn't always disabled - a mere two years earlier, he was a healthy and smiling baby boy. Nance Roche, a local healer, convinces Nora that the child is a changeling and that the real Micheál has been swept by fairies, or the "good people" as they are known. She devises a scheme that will see the boy returned to his family, but this plan turns out to have life-changing consequences for everyone involved. The story focuses on an era in Irish life when paganism and Christianity competed as a source of faith and belief. The local priest was the most powerful man in the parish, but his flock were an uneducated bunch who clung to superstition. Fireside tales of folklore were not only a means of entertainment, they were also a way of rationalising misfortune. A childless couple, a rotten crop - these problems were attributed to upsetting the fairy folk and people used all manner of rituals and potions to keep them appeased. As fans of Burial Rites will know, Hannah Kent has a real talent for period detail and generating atmosphere. We can almost touch and feel the soggy landscape that events take place in: "the smell of damp soil was everywhere." The poverty and misery of rural existence is always apparent - Nance lives in a windowless bothán with "walls made of wattle and mud, thatched with potato stalks and heather." In later chapters, the wide streets and tall buildings of Tralee town are an eye-opening contrast to the wild terrain that our protagonists are accustomed to seeing. The dialogue is word-perfect, and hailing from rural Ireland myself I recognised many the phrases and idioms that are still in use to this day. Kent sets an ominous tone early on - we just know that this story will not have a happy ending. Though the pace is little slow in the first half of the novel, momentum really gathers in the second part and I raced through the pages to discover the fates of these unfortunate women. It is such a well-researched and beautifully judged tale. Kent never mocks the characters for their beliefs and extreme as their actions may be, they are carried out with the best intentions. A worthy successor to Burial Rites, The Good People is an faithfully constructed and gripping account of Ireland's relationship with the occult.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    If you loved Burial Rites, I cannot see why you wouldn’t love this too. In both Hannah Kent meticulously researches, then takes what she has learned and weaves the factual details of her thorough studies into an utterly believable story. In both what is depicted is grim. It is not a light read that is delivered. In both there is a tension to the telling. In both the feel of a time and a place are meticulously replicated. What happens here in this story, the tale's plot, how it is told and the in If you loved Burial Rites, I cannot see why you wouldn’t love this too. In both Hannah Kent meticulously researches, then takes what she has learned and weaves the factual details of her thorough studies into an utterly believable story. In both what is depicted is grim. It is not a light read that is delivered. In both there is a tension to the telling. In both the feel of a time and a place are meticulously replicated. What happens here in this story, the tale's plot, how it is told and the intricacies with which the characters' motivations, actions and dialogs are drawn feel genuine. For me a book of fiction is at its best when I am totally convinced that all I am being told has to be true, word for word, action by action and for the reasons shown! What happens had to have happened just like this! Through reading this book, one sees the Flesk river valley, near Killarney in Kerry County, Ireland, in 1825. That is the setting. One sees the wattle and mud houses thatched with potato stalks and heather, the brambles and the filth and the dire poverty. I saw and heard the skin-and-bone child, Micheál, with welts, with arms flailing, screeching. I smelt his urine soaked bedding. I heard river waters swirl, funeral keenings and the townspeople’s Gaelic chants. The dialogs are made perfect not simply by the author’s inclusion of Gaelic words, but also in how the English words are strung together. English speakers say things one way, but the Irish take the same words, change the word order and use a different verb conjugation; like magic, all is altered. The lilt is different too; this came across marvelously in the book’s audio format. How did Kent, an Australian author, capture the brogue so perfectly? (I have been told that her partner is Irish.) When she wrote Burial Rites she lived in Iceland to absorb the intimate feel of what happened there. It is this kind of in-depth study that marks Kent’s writing. It is this that makes the telling feel so genuinely accurate. Kent marvelously draws the clash between Christianity and supernatural beliefs that existed in rural Ireland in the early 1800s. It is said such beliefs continued to exist decades and decades later. Belief in fairies and goblins and rites that HAD to be performed were as much a part of that life and their culture as our instantaneous media coverage is an integral part of our world today. If you tripped, milk had to be thrown out over the path. St. Brigid Crosses had to be woven to properly mirror the sun’s rays and they had to be hung over doorways on her Feast Day (February 1st). It was not question of choice! It was done! What impressed me most about this book was the author’s ability to make belief in the supernatural reasonable, natural and a belief that most probably I too would have held had I lived in those circumstance and conditions then. What do you believe when doctors cannot heal? What do you believe when the clergy fail? What do you believe when you think you have in fact seen proof of the fairies? There are three central characters: Nóra, Nance and Mary. Each one of them is drawn with a finely chiseled pen. Each very different from the other and each true to their own way of being. The writing is lyrical. There are lines describing nature that are utterly gorgeous. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Caroline Lennon. I enjoyed the intonations. I appreciated the Irish brogue. A book like this quite simply must be told with an Irish lilt. I don’t know Gaelic, but the words sounded marvelous in my ears. I did have trouble catching some of the names, and I don’t have a clue how to spell them. Must there be a trade-off between capturing an atmosphere well and clarity? I have discovered that the paper book concludes with an author’s note. There it is stated that the story is based on fact. The audiobook does not include the author’s note! This annoys me. I want to know what of this story is factual and what is imagined! I have given both the narration and the book itself four stars. In places the book drags a teeny bit, and I do wish Lennon had spoken the names more clearly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    I first came to know of author Hannah Kent thru her first debut, Burial Rites, short-listed for the Bailey’s prize and the International Dublin Literary award. Her very dark novel is an all time favorite of mine and one I will never forget. The Good People, her 2nd novel, is both similar and different than her first. Based on true events in County Kerry in 1826 Ireland, Kent takes us to a long ago society with misconceived beliefs similar to the background in Burial Rites. Unfortunately, I didn’t I first came to know of author Hannah Kent thru her first debut, Burial Rites, short-listed for the Bailey’s prize and the International Dublin Literary award. Her very dark novel is an all time favorite of mine and one I will never forget. The Good People, her 2nd novel, is both similar and different than her first. Based on true events in County Kerry in 1826 Ireland, Kent takes us to a long ago society with misconceived beliefs similar to the background in Burial Rites. Unfortunately, I didn’t take to the novel like I did her first. I did read it half way through to give the book a chance, but did not want to continue. Other GR friends have highly rated this book so don’t go by my opinion please. I just couldn’t get into the superstitious storyline. 3 out of 5 stars

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    A stand alone novel by Hannah Kent published 2017. This is a beautifully written sad tale with characters that jump from the page. Hannah Kent has an innate ability to conjure up times and places and put the reader right in the middle of everything. This might be historical fiction but much is based on fact. Ever since human beings set foot on this planet one and a half million or 8 thousand years ago, depending on your religious predilections, we have had a need to believe in the unbelievable. F A stand alone novel by Hannah Kent published 2017. This is a beautifully written sad tale with characters that jump from the page. Hannah Kent has an innate ability to conjure up times and places and put the reader right in the middle of everything. This might be historical fiction but much is based on fact. Ever since human beings set foot on this planet one and a half million or 8 thousand years ago, depending on your religious predilections, we have had a need to believe in the unbelievable. From blood sacrifices to please the Sun God so that the crops will grow or the knee bone of St. Jimmy held in a cathedral, a bone, that is known to make the lame walk again, the list goes on and on. The place is Ireland and the time is the 1820’s. When Nora Leahy daughter dies her son in-law, who can no longer care for his son and work to make a living, takes the child to Nora for care and safe keeping. The last time Nora saw her grandson he was talking and walking but now he is a mute cripple. Not long after this event Nora’s husband dies suddenly and unexpectedly leaving Nora grief stricken and without her husbands support caring for the child becomes almost impossible. In need of help Nora hires, Mary, a young 14 yo girl to help with chores and caring for the child. At great expense Nora gets a doctor to help the child but the doctor says that there is nothing that can be done to improve the child’s health. After that disappointment Nora turns to the local priest who also says that it is beyond his ability to help the child. With nowhere else to go Nora asks Nace Roach, the local herbal healer, to help. It’s a known fact the Nace communicates with The Good People, the fairies and Nance has the cure of it. Nance pronounces the child to be a changeling, not a human child but one of the Good Peoples own left behind when the fairies took the human child. Changelings are an ill omen and soon everything that goes wrong is the changelings fault. Superstition runs amok; threats and finger pointing accusations are everywhere. The church is in turmoil and life in this peaceful valley becomes anything but. You won’t read this book, you will experience it. A highly recommended 4 star read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena

    The Good People is an intense and deeply unsettling novel based on true events which occurred in Ireland in 1826. Set in an isolated rural community the story is steeped in folklore and superstitions and follows three women deeply flawed and each dealing with her own struggles, grieve and desperation. Hannah Kent's writing is beautiful and she managed to create a bleak but compelling story. If you enjoy historical fiction, that book is a must read. The Good People is an intense and deeply unsettling novel based on true events which occurred in Ireland in 1826. Set in an isolated rural community the story is steeped in folklore and superstitions and follows three women deeply flawed and each dealing with her own struggles, grieve and desperation. Hannah Kent's writing is beautiful and she managed to create a bleak but compelling story. If you enjoy historical fiction, that book is a must read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Richards

    I feel bad for the low rating on this one. I loved Burial Rites so was really looking forward to reading Hannah Kent`s new book, despite it being a little fantasy-like, a genre I`m not keen on. I should`ve paid heed to my doubts; I don`t do fairies, mystical happenings etc. The writing is still really good, she researched so well and knows how to tell a story. I will definitely read her again. This just wasn`t for me. I feel bad for the low rating on this one. I loved Burial Rites so was really looking forward to reading Hannah Kent`s new book, despite it being a little fantasy-like, a genre I`m not keen on. I should`ve paid heed to my doubts; I don`t do fairies, mystical happenings etc. The writing is still really good, she researched so well and knows how to tell a story. I will definitely read her again. This just wasn`t for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    4.5 stars. Another quality read from Hannah Kent. With her first novel Burial Rights and now the Good People, this lady sure knows how to tell an unhappy story! The Good People are fairies and belief in them and their tricks were integral to 19th century life in Ireland, sitting, perhaps uncomfortably, along side Catholicism. Kent has done her research and her story is based on true events. The superstitions described are so interesting: cutting the corner from bread before eating to let the devil 4.5 stars. Another quality read from Hannah Kent. With her first novel Burial Rights and now the Good People, this lady sure knows how to tell an unhappy story! The Good People are fairies and belief in them and their tricks were integral to 19th century life in Ireland, sitting, perhaps uncomfortably, along side Catholicism. Kent has done her research and her story is based on true events. The superstitions described are so interesting: cutting the corner from bread before eating to let the devil escape, leaving food scraps for the fairies,etc. It was believed people got 'swept' when they disappeared (swept away to fairy forts) or went mad. That a child was a changeling, was often the explanation for disabilities. The book is beautifully written- descriptions of bereavement near the start of the book were heart-wrenching. Village life was harsh and a community with all its associated disagreements, gossip and peer group pressure are all convincingly portrayed. This is, for me, historical fiction at its best: laying out the lives of the common people, the details of their poverty, their hopes, dreams and fears- their superstitions and the beliefs they hold dear. Hannah Kent does this all so well. Fans of Karen Maitland or Emma Donaghue will enjoy this story. Recommended. Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vaso

    The story is set in Ireland of 1825, in a small area by the valley, in which people are superstitious and they try to explain everything the old way as it used to happen in the past in small, isolated communities. The story itself is atmospheric and  so compelling and drowns you to it. Besides dealing with superstitious in that old days, it also deals with grief, embarrassment and fear of the unknown. The debt that the author provides in all her characters is very detailed as the research you unde The story is set in Ireland of 1825, in a small area by the valley, in which people are superstitious and they try to explain everything the old way as it used to happen in the past in small, isolated communities. The story itself is atmospheric and  so compelling and drowns you to it. Besides dealing with superstitious in that old days, it also deals with grief, embarrassment and fear of the unknown. The debt that the author provides in all her characters is very detailed as the research you understand she made in order to write this book. Those of you that have read her first novel, will love this one as well.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)

    Such conflicted feelings about this one. Like in Burial Rites, one of the standout things in here is the nature writing. Deliciously, chillingly atmospheric. And the questions raised in this book about ethics, folklore, ignorance, and knowledge are fascinating to think about. The Good People takes place in rural Ireland in 1825, and follows a middle-aged, recently widowed woman named Nóra who’s raising her sick four-year-old grandson. After developing normally for two years, the boy suddenly los Such conflicted feelings about this one. Like in Burial Rites, one of the standout things in here is the nature writing. Deliciously, chillingly atmospheric. And the questions raised in this book about ethics, folklore, ignorance, and knowledge are fascinating to think about. The Good People takes place in rural Ireland in 1825, and follows a middle-aged, recently widowed woman named Nóra who’s raising her sick four-year-old grandson. After developing normally for two years, the boy suddenly lost the ability to talk and walk, and now does nothing but scream and soil himself from dawn until dusk. The whole situation brought up some truly ugly feelings inside me, and I admired the way Kent made me acknowledge those feelings. I felt so drawn to this story, and thought about it often when I wasn’t reading it. BUT. Although beautiful, the writing is static and repetitive. There’s no sense of momentum or possibility in this book, just a slow, creeping, inescapable dread that becomes boring before the most horrible things even happen. The main characters are fairly uninspired (with the possible exception of the old medicine woman, Nance), and the side characters don’t have an ounce of subtlety. The moment they’re introduced, you know exactly what narrative functions they’re going to perform (Burial Rites had this same problem). And really, this 380-page book could easily be 300 pages. It would’ve benefitted tremendously from some scrupulous condensing. In the end, this is a wonderful book to think about and discuss with other people – it’s just not especially readable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    K.

    4.25 stars. I think the best way to describe this book is UNSETTLING. It's basically about superstition in rural Ireland in the 1820s. Nora's daughter died prior to the beginning of the book, leaving Nora and her husband with the care of their disabled grandson. When Nora's husband dies too, word starts to spread that the child isn't natural, is a changeling, is cursing them all. As with Burial Rites, it's inspired by actual events. I felt for the characters throughout, but I also wanted to bang 4.25 stars. I think the best way to describe this book is UNSETTLING. It's basically about superstition in rural Ireland in the 1820s. Nora's daughter died prior to the beginning of the book, leaving Nora and her husband with the care of their disabled grandson. When Nora's husband dies too, word starts to spread that the child isn't natural, is a changeling, is cursing them all. As with Burial Rites, it's inspired by actual events. I felt for the characters throughout, but I also wanted to bang their heads together and call Child Protective Services. Kent clearly shows the desperation people had when they were too poor to send for the doctor and when the local priest told them there was nothing to be done, and it's not always an easy book to read (trigger warnings for domestic violence, child abuse, and stillbirth). And I appreciate that it's told from the perspective of three women (or, more accurately, two women and a fourteen year old girl). It's beautifully written and very compelling. That said, I don't know if it will be high on my list of books to reread, solely because it was so unsettling so much of the time.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Hannah Kent is an Australian writer who has done a great deal of research to produce a book based on historical events in Kerry Ireland. There are a lot of detailed reviews out there so this will be short. The primary characters are all female and each is richly developed and compelling. The details on traditional beliefs are skillfully provided. I did a little research on my own about the presence of clergy in 19th century Ireland when the Penal Laws were still in effect. http://www.libraryirel Hannah Kent is an Australian writer who has done a great deal of research to produce a book based on historical events in Kerry Ireland. There are a lot of detailed reviews out there so this will be short. The primary characters are all female and each is richly developed and compelling. The details on traditional beliefs are skillfully provided. I did a little research on my own about the presence of clergy in 19th century Ireland when the Penal Laws were still in effect. http://www.libraryireland.com/article... Despite these repressive laws, there were still priests in Ireland, and those who were tolerated by British rule were most likely like the priest in this novel. Irish phrases and words are used throughout and although the writer fails to address her use of the language in her afterward, the characters probably were Irish-speaking as the decline of Irish already in progress, became truly dire with the famine (1848-1849) and probably spurred on by Daniel O'Connell's denigration of the language as backward. She uses Irish words that are essential and don't really have English translations, and Irish phrases that are what we'd call proverbs. Overall a well researched novel that is a compelling read I'd recommend to anyone interested in Irish history and culture.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Atmospheric, dark and harrowing. Loved it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    As with Hannah Kent's first book, Burial Rites, she has based this one on a real occurence, this time in early 19th century Ireland. There are similarities in the works in that the society is primitive, surviving hand to mouth from one potato harvest to the next, supplementing their income by selling eggs from their chickens and milk and butter from their cow. Life is hard and conditions bleak, especially in winter when their huts and fires provide little shelter and heat. Belief in myths and su As with Hannah Kent's first book, Burial Rites, she has based this one on a real occurence, this time in early 19th century Ireland. There are similarities in the works in that the society is primitive, surviving hand to mouth from one potato harvest to the next, supplementing their income by selling eggs from their chickens and milk and butter from their cow. Life is hard and conditions bleak, especially in winter when their huts and fires provide little shelter and heat. Belief in myths and superstition is strong and the villagers are careful not to annoy the 'Good People' or little people who they believe are out do make mischief but can also bestow medical cures and wealth. When Nora's husband collapses and dies not long after the death of their only daughter, Johanna, she finds herself alone having to care after Johanna's severely disabled son Micheál. Nora hires a girl, Mary, to help take care of him but becomes convinced the Good People can help restore the previously healthy little boy to her. She seeks out the help of Nance Roche, the village herbal healer and midwife who believes she can communicate with the Good People and together they plan a cure for Micheál. This is a dark and bleak story but a compelling one as the villagers turn against Nance and Nora and events proceed to their unhappy climax. As previously, Hannah Kent's research into the life and times of early 19th century Irish peasants is very thorough and she paints a picture of a deeply superstitious people with the Church waging war on their primitive beliefs.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    “The Good People are cunning when they are not merry. They do what pleases them because they serve neither God nor Devil, and no one can assure them of a place in Heaven or Hell. Not good enough to be saved, and not bad enough to be lost” The Good People is the second novel by award-winning Australian author, Hannah Kent. It’s 1825, and Nora Leahy lives in a small mountain village near the Flesk River, about ten miles from Killarney. When John O’Donoghue and Peter O‘Connor, two men of the village “The Good People are cunning when they are not merry. They do what pleases them because they serve neither God nor Devil, and no one can assure them of a place in Heaven or Hell. Not good enough to be saved, and not bad enough to be lost” The Good People is the second novel by award-winning Australian author, Hannah Kent. It’s 1825, and Nora Leahy lives in a small mountain village near the Flesk River, about ten miles from Killarney. When John O’Donoghue and Peter O‘Connor, two men of the village bring the body of her just deceased husband, Martin to their cabin, she is understandably distraught. But her very first thought is to ask Peter to take her grandson, Micheal, to her nearest neighbour, Peg O’Shea. She knows the cabin will soon fill with neighbours, and doesn’t want Michael seen. Two months earlier, her son-in-law, Tadgh Kelliher had brought news of the passing of her only daughter, Johanna, and left their son, Micheal in his grandparents’ care. But four-year-old Micheal cannot walk, cannot talk, and screams inconsolably much of the time. Nora is now left to care for him alone, and she knows the village will be superstitious about his deformities. Peg suggests she needs help, so she hires fourteen-year-old Mary Clifford at the hiring fair in Killarney. Mary does her best, but Nora is desperate to bring Micheal back to the healthy state she remembers when he was two. When the local woman “with the knowledge”, Nance Roche sees Micheal, she tells Nora he is likely a changeling: she knows how to bring back Nora’s grandson and banish this unwanted fairy. “Nance knew that the only reason they had allowed her this damp cabin between mountain and wood and river for twenty-odd years was because she stood in for that which was not and could not be understood. She was the gatekeeper at the edge of the world. The final human hymn before all fell to wind and shadow and the strange creaking of stars. She was a pagan chorus. An older song” “Nora saw the boy as Nance saw him then. A wild, crabbed child no heavier than the weight of snow upon a branch. A clutch of bones rippling with the movement of wind on water. Thistle-headed. Fierce-chinned. Small fingers clutching in front of him as though the air were filled with wonders and not the smoke of the fire and their own stale breath” Kent bases her tale on a real life event, so reading the Author’s Note last will avoid spoilers. With her gorgeous descriptive prose, Kent easily evokes the day-to-day village life in early 19th century Ireland. The depth of her research into this period is apparent in every paragraph, but all those little details are woven seamlessly into the story: things like the average diet (potatoes, dairy products, tea and poitin), death rituals, footwear (none), customs, beliefs and common sayings give the tale authenticity. This was an era when religious belief existed side by side with folk belief. Natural occurrences like stillbirth, heart attack, accidental injury, poor milk production or low crop yield were often seen as signs or omens of something sinister; rituals to avoid these were a daily practice. Kent paints a picture of a village where jealousy, resentment, rumour and superstition lead to a sort of mass hysteria. Each of Kent’s three main characters has very human flaws, even when their intentions are good: “Nora had always believed herself to be a good woman. A kind woman. But perhaps, she thought, we are good only when life makes it easy for us to be so. Maybe the heart hardens when good fortune is not there to soften it”. Her final evocative paragraph (“The air was sweet and damp. A morning mist rolled down off the mountains and their purple skins. Hares moved lightly through the heather, white tails scuttling through the dark tangle of brambles before the rowan trees, blossom-white, the clover. The lane was empty before her, and there was no movement in the waiting valley, no wind. Only the birds above her and, in the slow unpeeling of darkness, a divinity of sky”) confirm Kent’s deserved place in historical fiction. Kent’s second novel does not disappoint.

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