The Good People

The Good People

by Hannah Kent


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Burial Rites, "a literary novel with the pace and tension of a thriller that takes us on a frightening journey towards an unspeakable tragedy."-Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water
Based on true events in nineteenth century Ireland, Hannah Kent's startling new novel tells the story of three women, drawn together to rescue a child from a superstitious community.
Nora, bereft after the death of her husband, finds herself alone and caring for her grandson Micheal, who can neither speak nor walk. A handmaid, Mary, arrives to help Nora just as rumors begin to spread that Micheal is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Determined to banish evil, Nora and Mary enlist the help of Nance, an elderly wanderer who understands the magic of the old ways.

Set in a lost world bound by its own laws, THE GOOD PEOPLE is Hannah Kent's startling new novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316243957
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 296,030
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. Her first novel, Burial Rites, has been translated into nearly thirty languages and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize), the Guardian First Book Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Hannah is also the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings. THE GOOD PEOPLE is her second novel.

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The Good People 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“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 b
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable 19th century tale. Well written a goodread
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intelligent , lyrical , captivating --- these are just a few adjectives to describe Hannah Kent's latest novel. I was drawn in from page one and this mystical story never lagged .
jmchshannon More than 1 year ago
With her second novel, Ms. Kent confirms that she holds no romantic notions about our ancestors and the way they used to live. In fact, one might even get the impression that she relishes in sharing all of the gory details of the time. If anything, one can commend her dedication to providing as realistic a picture of the past as possible, as she completely dispenses with the glorification of the past. I believe it also indicates a lack of bias on her part. In the case of The Good People, it reiterates her theme of absolute belief. Still, there are certain scenes which may make some readers squeamish due to her honesty. Along the same lines, the other thing her attention to detail provides is the quelling of the notion of a romantic Ireland. The Ireland in her story is what can only be envisioned as the true Ireland. This is not the Ireland of pretty maids, charming folklore, and cozy dances at the pubs. Poverty is rampant, food is scarce, and all it takes is one failed season of butter and egg production for a family to have their house torn down by the landlord and find themselves homeless. Potatoes are the main food source for many living in the country (and we all know what happens there a few decades later). People live in dwellings with their goats and chickens; their roofs are nothing more than straw or sticks and have to be protected from birds. Looking at this from a modern perspective, they are barely surviving, if their way of life could be called surviving. It most definitely was not for the weak. The time period is also the beginning of the end for old customs and beliefs, a time when the Church starts having more influence on the country and one of the sources of conflict within the novel. Ms. Kent does an excellent job illustrating how ingrained these beliefs were in the remote regions of the country. She shows how people professed their faith in the Church in one breath and in another mention a charm meant to appease the fairies. The belief in both is absolute and so difficult for modern readers to understand, but this does not mean that the people in her novel are less intelligent or quaint. If anything, they show an openness to the unknown that modern society eschews. The Good People is more than an observation of belief though. It is also a study of humanity when life turns sour, of absolute grief, and jealousy. It is a study of mankind in a remote location still lead by superstition struggling to make ends meet. In addition to the lack of anything remotely pretty or sanitary, Ms. Kent also fails to spare her readers of mankind's ability to turn on one another when most convenient. It is by no means an easy novel to read. This is mankind at its most raw, scraped bare by need and grief.
MrsKelp More than 1 year ago
Hannah Kent has created a captivating novel based on facts from Ireland in 1826. This story relates life and the beliefs of the people of Ireland around this time. The reader is transported back in time and it is easy picture the countryside and the characters. The pain that Nora feels throughout the novel is evident as she slowly falls deeper into despair. The love Mary feels for Michael is evident although it is not clear if she was a real person. Nance is a healer and handy woman and this story is based on events concerning her. This was a fascinating read full of information and superstition that truly lent a feel of Irish life to the reader. This novel would make a great addition to any library. This book would be great for group discussion.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I loved "Burial Rites" and snapped this book up without getting too far into the description. While I liked the first book better, this one was still a good read. I like how the author really sets me in the scene. You can really tell that she has done a lot of research on this, as well. Especially if you read the author's note at the end. I also just read that the author picked a mysterious disease for Micheal so it would add to the mystery. I know I was having a hard time just picturing what the heck he had wrong with him. I had to laugh a few times when those ladies would meet up at the well. The superstitions that they had were hilarious. I'm rolling my eyes now at some of the beliefs. A really great and entertaining read that had me mesmerized for hours. Thanks to Little, Brown and Company and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
I do enjoy a dark book, and this one definitely falls within that category. The story is set in 19th Century Ireland and is set on true events. In an isolated community where a physician's aid is difficult to come by, the people depend upon old wives tales, superstitions, and the help of a healer. Nora is the protagoist and when her husband suddenly and unexpectedly dies, she is left alone to raise their handicapped grandson. Unable to run the farm and take care of the invalid child, she hires the help of a young woman named Mary to care for the boy. At first Mary is shocked and struggles to find her comfort in her strange circumstances. Soon, however, her bond with the boy grows. Superstition abounds and Nora is convinced the boy is not her grandson but a changeling left by the mysterious, fairy, magical "good folk". With the help of the local healer, an old woman who practices with superstition and herbs, the three women set about to return the child to the good people and seek the return of the real boy. What transpires is a fascinating tale of misguided intentions, false beliefs, and heart-wrenching circumstances. At times, especially during the middle of the book, it felt almost too hard to believe, nearly fantastical, but then I recalled how this is a story based on an actual occurrence and I read on, unable to put it down. Vividly real, flawed characters grace every page. This is a wonderfully dark tale not for the feint of heart. To say it is heart-wrenching is an understatement. This is a great book for book clubs and for Halloween. It will provide hours of discussion! Highly recommended. I loved it very much!