Review The Good People By Hannah Kent – County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. Nora, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheal. Micheal cannot speak and cannot walk and Nora is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive?
Mary arrives in the valley to help Nora just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheal is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Nance’s knowledge keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer.
Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheal. As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheal, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.Based on true events and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People is Hannah Kent’s startling novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers.
Review The Good People By Hannah Kent – I believe there are always two types of fairies: the beautiful ones and the beautiful but arrogant and wicked. Continuing the adventure in Burial Rites, now I am ready to venture out with The Good People by Hannah Kent. From the early, it is stated that this story revolves around poverty, suffering, sadness, superstition and mysticism. But do not be tempted to put it down before you finish your read. The beautiful narration, interesting phrases, and distinctive Irish vocabulary and dialect will really open your eyes.
The death of Martin, Nóra Leahy’s husband, triggered everything. His death was considered mystical and unnatural by the villagers. This made Nóra Leahy suffer, feeling upset and unstable. But it didn’t end there because the arrival of Micheál only added to her suffering. Micheál is Nora’s grandson from her daughter Johanna and her husband, Tadgh.
Nóra had visited Micheál when he was two years old. He was very normal and healthy. But somehow the boy now could not talk nor walk. He just grew like a terrifying child. The life of Nóra Leahy had suffered even more since the death of Johanna and her own husband. How was she supposed to raise the cattle, live with disabled Micheál and deal with the people who blamed him for the calamity that struck the valley?
The second character is Mary Clifford, a girl from Annamore who had many younger siblings. Her experience as an elder sister made her agree to take care of Micheál. In fact, her relationship with Micheál was wonderful, especially considering Micheál’s condition. And Nóra herself perhaps could not understand it.
But Nóra had to deal with the pressure from the villagers because the once fertile valley now became horrible. Disasters kept coming. Cattle not producing milk, babies dying and strong blows of winds were just some of the bad luck. Micheál’s soul was believed to have been taken by The Good People and had to be sanctified before it was returned. In that horrid situation, came a third character named Nance Roche, a spiritual shaman who posed a threat to the pastors in the region. And Nóra came to believe her after doctors said it was impossible to cure Micheál. The pastors in the region could not do much about Micheál.
Nance Roche’s ability to use traditional herbs from the valley and strange rituals is guaranteed to have great impact on the readers.
This is the story of nineteenth-century Irish people that is full of mystical lines, miserable lives in a gloomy valley, and an ever-contradictory society. The narrative is very compelling. It will not make you happy, but you will find it difficult to stop. In the end I wonder, what if this story is made more beautiful like a fairy tale – no sadness and suffering. But then that would be cliches. So I have to admit that I am very impressed with Hannah Kent’s second book.
I think : Must Read
Page length : 400 pages
Publisher / date : Pan MacMillan, Imprint PICADOR, 07 Sep 2017
- Push to sit until the last page
Ireland idiom which is hard to understand but enthralling