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The Good People

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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...

386 pages, Paperback

First published September 27, 2016

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About the author

Hannah Kent

11 books3,749 followers
Hannah Kent's first novel, the international bestseller, Burial Rites (2013), was translated into 30 languages and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction and the Guardian First Book Award. It won the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier's People's Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Hannah's second novel, The Good People was published in 2016 (ANZ) and 2017 (Feb, UK; Sept, North America). It was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the Indie Book Award for Fiction and the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year. It has been translated into 10 languages.

Hannah’s original feature film, Run Rabbit Run, will be directed by Daina Reid (The Handmaid’s Tale) and produced by Carver and XYZ Films. It was launched at the Cannes 2020 virtual market where STX Entertainment took world rights.

Hannah co-founded the Australian literary publication Kill Your Darlings, and is a Patron for World Vision Australia. She has written for The New York Times, The Saturday Paper, The Guardian, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, Qantas Magazine and LitHub.

Hannah lives and works on Peramangk country near Adelaide, Australia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,457 reviews
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,924 reviews35.4k followers
July 5, 2017
"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
Profile Image for jessica.
2,511 reviews31k followers
June 23, 2020
‘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
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,714 reviews2,242 followers
July 12, 2021

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
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,082 followers
February 10, 2017

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.

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.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,697 reviews14.1k followers
April 1, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,203 reviews34.9k followers
October 26, 2018
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
Profile Image for María.
144 reviews3,066 followers
December 23, 2017
De los mejores libros que he leído este año.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,163 reviews2,011 followers
December 20, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
709 reviews457 followers
October 31, 2022
Why I chose to read this book:
1. I fell in love with Hannah Kent's Burial Rites shortly after it was published. This book has been languishing on my WTR list for a long time. I finally grabbed the bull by the horns and borrowed it from the library; and,
2. August 2022 is my "As the Spirit Moves Me Month".

1. once again, Kent uses an atmospheric setting to create a bleak mood, this time among the mountains, valleys and forests of 1825-26 southwestern Ireland;
2. well drawn-out characters - Nance Roche, the hermit healer who the locals have mixed feelings about; Nora Leahy, whose husband and daughter have recently passed and is now in charge of her strange 4-year-old grandson; and Mary, a 14-year-old girl hired by Nora to help look after this child. Kent masterfully leads us to feel various thoughts about these women, as well as the folk who live nearby;
3. Kent has done her research as she writes about the rituals, beliefs and superstitions that rural Irish people lived by, some still followed today and some that were extremely questionable. Folklore, especially regarding fairies, plays a huge part in this story. I also learned how plants, types of water, good-luck charms, etc. were used to "cure" various problems; and,
4. most of all, I love how Kent has, once again, taken a true-life event and spun a tale with a desolate setting and brooding characters to draw me in!

Although Kent uses several authentic Irish words in context, a glossary would have been most helpful.

Interesting Vocabulary:
- changeling: a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents' real child in infancy
- cretinism: a condition characterized by physical deformity and learning disabilities caused by congenital thyroid deficiency
- nostrum: a medicine of secret composition without scientific proof of its effectiveness

Overall Thoughts:
Ignorance + Mental Illness = BIG TROUBLE!
Kent's Burial Rites is one of my all-time favorite reads, so why did I take so long to read this book? Was I subconsciously avoiding it, afraid that it wouldn't measure up to her debut novel? Damn, this is an author worth following!

If you enjoyed Burial Rites or you like historical fiction set in Ireland, then check this one out! Also, Kent recommends Angela Bourke's nonfiction book about a similar case called The Burning of Bridget Cleary - it's on my WTR list!
Profile Image for Taryn.
325 reviews295 followers
December 7, 2017
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. 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."

• “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!

Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,113 reviews8,049 followers
September 25, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,031 reviews2,631 followers
February 19, 2017

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.
Profile Image for Libros Prestados.
419 reviews771 followers
January 14, 2018
La capacidad de Hannah Kent de trasladarte a otro lugar y época, meterte allí y nunca perder la verosimilitud es increíble. Ya lo hizo en "Ritos funerarios" y lo repite en esta novela. De hecho, la veo más suelta en esta historia donde superstición y realidad se entremezclan para contarnos el drama de una mujer (de varias, en realidad) superada por las circunstancias.

Los personajes que crea Kent no te caen del todo bien, pero consigue que empatices con ellos (con ellas). Incluso tiene cierto aire de actualidad, con esa mujer que trata de buscar una cura para un niño que se ha convertido en una carga. No sería la primera persona en creer en cualquier cosa que le prometa arreglar todos sus problemas. Si a eso le unimos una ciencia médica casi inexistente y una superstición que empapa todas las capas de una sociedad rural, la mezcla explosiva está servida.

"Ritos funerarios" era un drama y también lo es "Los buenos". Basándose en un caso real, la autora crea un universo casi tangible que te crees en todo momento. Es una lectura que me ha encantado (aunque me haya partido el corazón) y que consolida a Hannah Kent como una de mis autoras favoritas.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,604 reviews599 followers
February 7, 2017
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.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,398 reviews801 followers
November 4, 2018
“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.


‘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.
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
480 reviews588 followers
February 13, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Thomas.
236 reviews69 followers
February 19, 2019
Ένα απίστευτα καθηλωτικό μυθιστόρημα που διάβασα μονορούφι. Η Hannah Kent μας κέρδισε όλους με τα «Έθιμα Ταφής». Με τους «Καλούς» απέδειξε ότι έχει μια λαμπρή συγγραφική καριέρα μπροστά της.

Διαβάστε την άποψή μου στο blog Matobookalo:
Profile Image for Maria Bikaki.
783 reviews378 followers
June 28, 2018
Μου άρεσε πολύ. Η αλήθεια είναι ότι δεν ξέρω αν απολύτως κατάφερε να επιτελέσει τον σκοπό για τον οποίο γράφτηκε, ούτε μπορώ να πω με βεβαιότητα ότι ανεβάζει τη συγγραφέα σ’ ένα άλλο συγγραφικό επίπεδο καθώς πάνω κάτω κινείται στα ίδια γνώριμα νερά με το πρώτο της μυθιστόρημα τα διάσημα «έθιμα ταφής» όμως στα δικά μου μάτια αποτέλεσε μια ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία κυρίως στο κομμάτι του πόσο τελικά είμαστε διατεθειμένοι εμείς οι άνθρωποι να πιστέψουμε σε παραμύθια, σε ιστορίες με νεράιδες και ξωτικά , να ζούμε σε μια ψευδαίσθηση μόνο και μόνο γιατί δε μπορούμε να αποδεχτούμε την όχι και τόσο ρόδινη πραγματικότητα μας. Ένα βιβλίο για την αμάθεια και πως αυτή μπορεί να μας παρασύρει σε κατακριτέες πράξεις και εξωφρενικές επιλογές. Η Ατμόσφαιρα επιβλητική όμως μόνο η Κεντ ξέρει να δημιουργεί, στα συν η επιμονή της συγγραφέως να επιμένει να επιλέγει γυναικείους χαρακτήρες ως πρώτα βιολιά για να πει την ιστορία της. Στα συν επίσης το μέγεθος της έρευνας καθώς το κομμάτι της μυθοπλασίας βασίζεται σε αληθινή ιστορία. Πραγματικά στο κομμάτι αυτό και στις δύο της απόπειρες η συγγραφέας ΚΕΝΤ-άει. Καταθλιπτικό και σκοτεινό ανά διαστήματα, ανατρεπτικό και εντελώς στενάχωρο φινάλε ολοκληρώνουν το σκηνικό μαζί φυσικά με την εξαιρετική μετάφραση της ικανής Μαρίας Αγγελίδου.
Αν κάτι μου έλειψε είναι μια κάπως μεγαλύτερη εμβάθυνση των χαρακτήρων. Ήθελα ένα κλικ ακόμα για να μπορέσω να τις καταλάβω ή συμπονέσω. Εξαιρώ το χαρακτήρα της Μαίρης που μου φάνηκε ο πιο ολοκληρωμένος όλων. Ίσως βέβαια απλά εγώ δεν μπόρεσα να συνδεθώ τόσο και δεν ήταν θέμα γραφής. Μου έλειψε επίσης αυτό το ένα μικρό βηματάκι παραπάνω που χρειαζόταν για να ξεφύγει η συγγραφέας από τα έθιμα ταφής βέβαια σίγουρα εδώ φταίει και το γεγονός ότι από μόνος του ο αναγνώστης έχει πολύ περισσότερες προσδοκίες. Ένα πραγματικά πολύ καλό βιβλίο, φροντισμένο με αγάπη και μεράκι που ίσως να του έλειψε λίγο μεγαλύτερη ένταση στην αφήγηση.
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
614 reviews758 followers
September 12, 2017
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."
Profile Image for Kyriaki.
428 reviews185 followers
June 16, 2018
4,5* γιατί κάπου έκανε μια μικρή τόση δα κοιλίτσα!

Ιρλανδία 1825, η Νόρα Λίχι χάνει τον άντρα της ξαφνικά και μόνη της τώρα πλέον πρέπει να φροντίσει τον ανάπηρο γιο της επίσης νεκρής κόρης της. Για να τη βοηθήσει με τις δουλείες προσλαμβάνει ένα νεαρό κορίτσι, τη Μαίρη.

Τα πράγματα όμως δεν είναι καθόλου εύκολα για τη χήρα και την παραδουλεύτρα της. Μετά τον ξαφνικό θάνατο του άντρα της Νόρα τα πράγματα παίρνουν την κάτω βόλτα. Ατυχίες και ατυχήματα άρχισαν να συμβαίνουν παντού. Οι αγελάδες δεν βγάζουν αρκετό γάλα, οι κότες δεν γεννούν πολλά αυγά. Και παρά τις προσπάθειες της να κρύψει τον εγγονό της από τα μάτια του κόσμου, οι άνθρωποι της κοιλάδας ξέρουν και μιλούν. Ψιθυρίζουν μεταξύ τους πως αυτός είναι που φταίει για όλα τα κακά που τους βρήκαν. Λένε πως είναι αγγισμένος, νεραϊδοπαρμένος, τελώνιο, πως τον έχουν πάρει οι Καλοί.

Τέσσερα πουλιά που σημαίνουν το θάνατο, αλάτι ή κάρβουνο στην τσέπη για να ξορκίσουν το κακό και κάθε λογής χόρτα και βότανα που θεραπεύουν τις αρρώστιες.

Στην Ιρλανδία του 1825 οι άνθρωποι ζουν μέσα στη φτώχεια, τις προκαταλήψεις και τις δεισιδαιμονίες. Πιστεύουν στις νεράιδες και στα ξωτικά. Πως ζουν ανάμεσα τους, πως κάνουν ζημιές και φάρσες και προκαλούν αρρώστιες. Αυτή είναι η πραγματικότητα τους, η αλήθεια τους.

Και υπάρχει και η Νανς Ρόουντς, η γι��τρισσα. Αυτή που έχει τη Γνώση. Που της την έδωσαν οι Καλοί. Που έχει πάρε δώσε μαζί τους. Που ήξερε τις ιδιότητες του κάθε βοτάνου και δουλειά της είναι να συμμαζεύει τις αταξίες των Καλών και να θεραπεύει τις αρρώστιες που φέρνουν.
Η Νανς λοιπόν, παρά τις αντιρρήσεις του παπά, καλείται να θεραπεύσει το άρρωστο αγόρι, να διώξει το τελώνιο και να φέρει πίσω στη γιαγιά του το εγγόνι της.

Στο πρώτο και στο δεύτερο μέρος είμαστε εγκλωβισμένοι στην κοιλάδα. Η Kent με τη γραφή της καταφέρνει και σε βάζει μέσα στον κόσμο τους. Γιατί όντως ζούσαν σε έναν άλλο, δ��κό τους κόσμο. Έναν κόσμο που οι Καλοί σκορπούν τον φόβο. Ένιωθες την απελπισία της Νόρα Λίχι, την κούραση της Νανς Ρόουντς και την ανησυχία της Μαίρης. Έπαιρνες μέρος στον παραλογισμό τους, που γι’ αυτούς ήταν η λογική και η αλήθεια.
Στο τρίτο μέρος, για λόγους που δεν θα αναφέρω, φεύγουμε από την κοιλάδα, κι εκεί φαίνεται το μέγεθος της αμάθειας τους, αλλά και η επικινδυνότητα της. Τι πόσο κακό μπορεί να προκαλέσουν οι προκαταλήψεις οι οποίες είναι τόσο στενά συνυφασμένες με την καθημερινότητα τους που είναι σχεδόν τρομαχτικό!
Το πρώτο και το το δεύτερο μέρος θα μπορούσε κάλλιστα να αποτελεί τμήμα ενός βιβλίο μαγικού ρεαλισμού ίσως. Στο τρίτο μέρος προσγειωνόμαστε στην πραγματικότητα.

Υπέροχη γραφή, καταπληκτική σκοτεινή, ζοφερή, λίγο ψυχοπλακωτική ατμόσφαιρα, περιγραφές σχεδόν ποιητικές και πολύ καλοί και οι τρεις γυναικείοι χαρακτήρες. Στο όριο της συμπάθειας και της αντιπάθειας και οι τρεις, την μια τις μισούσα τόσο πολύ και την άλλη ένιωθα συμπόνια και τις καταλάβαινα. Πιο πολύ μου άρεσε η Νανς, ενώ νομίζω πως η Νόρα ήταν λιγάκι “παραμελημένη” σαν χαρακτήρας.

Το βιβλίο είναι βασισμένο σε ένα πραγματικό γεγονός (για το οποίο εγώ δεν ήξερα τίποτα και τελικά καλά έκανα και δεν έψαξα!), έχει γίνει τρομερή έρευνα και αυτό φαίνεται.

Η αληθοφάνεια και η πιστότητα με την οποία η Kent κατάφερε να αποδώσει την κοινωνία της Ιρλανδίας του 19ου αιώνα, τις λαϊκές δοξασίες και παραδόσεις, την ζωή των φτωχών ανθρώπων της εποχής. Οτιδήποτε είχε να κάνει με τα ξωτικά και τις θεραπείες με βότανα με περίεργα ονόματα με ενθουσίαζε! Είναι εντυπωσιακό το μέγεθος της πίστης των ανθρώπων, το ότι δεν είχαν γνωρίσει ποτέ τους κάτι διαφορετικό και το ότι δεν δέχονταν κανείς να αμφισβητήσει αυτή τους την πίστη.

Κάπως ψυχοπλακωτικό, κάπως στενάχωρο στο τέλος, υποβλητικό καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια του, μου άρεσε πολύ!

ολόκληρη η άποψη μου και εδώ: https://wordpress64426.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,699 reviews1,478 followers
April 5, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Beata.
714 reviews1,088 followers
June 5, 2022
By far my favourite by Ms Kent. I finished it months ago but the feeling of helplessness and the tragic events which were the consequence of poverty are still with me ... Wonderful writing!
Profile Image for Paula K (on hiatus).
414 reviews424 followers
November 27, 2017
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
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
January 21, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Magdalena.
181 reviews167 followers
September 16, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Lygeri.
299 reviews20 followers
March 10, 2018
... Έχω μια στενοχώρια, ένα βάρος στην καρδιά.. Το τέλος των βιβλίων της Hannah Kent δεν έχουν λύση, δεν προσφέρουν κάθαρση. Σε αφήνουν με ένα "γιατί ρε γαμωτο" οταν τελειώνουν..
Οι Καλοί δεν είναι Έθιμα Ταφής, και ίσως -κακώς- πριν το διαβάσω είχα βάλει τον πήχη πολύ ψηλά. Είναι όμως ένα πολύ καλό βιβλίο για το οποίο η Kent για μία ακόμη φορά έχει κάνει τρομερή έρευνα. Σίγουρα αξιζει τον κόπο!
(Τώρα πάω να διαβάσω λίγο Έλεν Φήλντινγκ μήπως φτιάξει η ψυχολογία μου! 😋)
Profile Image for Natalie Richards.
401 reviews177 followers
November 9, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Nasia.
353 reviews80 followers
August 9, 2017
Η ατμόσφαιρα υποβλητική όσο πρέπει, το ιστορικό πλαίσιο σωστό, έχει γίνει αρκετή έρευνα ως προς την ζωή των Ιρλανδών την συγκεκριμένη περίοδο, αλλά η ιστορία με έκανε να βαρεθώ και οι χαρακτήρες δεν είχαν και πολύ βάθος δυστυχώς. Παρόλα αυτά, θα συνεχίζω να διαβάζω ό,τι γράφει η Hannah Kent γιατί ο λόγος της ρέει πολύ ευχάριστα. Πιο δίκαια κάπου 3.5/5.
Profile Image for somuchreading.
175 reviews251 followers
February 26, 2021
Να ένα δύσκολο βιβλίο για να βάλω αστεράκια, έχουν ενδιαφέρον αυτά, για να δούμε.

Μετά τα Έθιμα ταφής, ένα βιβλίο που για διάφορους λόγους αγαπήθηκε πολύ από μια μεγάλη πλειοψηφία [και] των Ελλήνων αναγνωστών, το Οι Καλοί επιβεβαιώνει καταρχάς ένα πράγμα: Πως η Hannah Kent ξέρει να γράφει καλά ένα rural ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα που διαδραματίζεται στον 19ο αιώνα. Αυτό όμως ίσως να μην αρκεί εδώ για να ενθουσιαστούμε το ίδιο με το πρώτο της μυθιστόρημα.

Η Kent εδώ ψαχουλεύει τη γραμμή μεταξύ της πίστης, της παράδοσης, των δοξασιών και ενός κόσμου που αλλάζει, μάλλον με μεγαλύτερη ταχύτητα από όση μπορούν να κατανοήσουν και να αποδεχθούν οι πρωταγωνίστριες του βιβλίου.

Και είναι ένα ψαχούλεμα αρχικά επιτυχημένο. Η απώλεια, η ελπίδα [ή η απελπισία, όπως το βλέπει κανείς] και η ανάγκη είναι μερικές από τις κινητήριες δυνάμεις που βάζουν μπρος τη μηχανή της αφήγησης, με τα πρόσωπα των τριών ηρωίδων του βιβλίου να λάμπουν μέσα στη σκοτεινιά του τοπίου που ζωγραφίζει η Kent στο χαρτί.

Όμως κάπου στην πορεία οι πράξεις και τα κίνητρά τους, η αιτιότητα των όσων συμβαίνουν από κάπου αρχίζει να μπάζει. Και παρότι σε όλα η εύκολη εξήγηση είναι κάτι σαν "τόσα ξέρανε, τόσα κάνανε", βρέθηκα ξαφνικά με αυτό το κόνσεπτ να μη με καλύπτει πια. Το τελευταίο κομμάτι του βιβλίου [νο σπόιλερς] θα μπορούσε πιθανά και να λείπει, αφού μάλλον ανακατεύει την πλοκή παρά την ξεκαθαρίζει, δείχνοντάς μου ένα μάλλον όχι 100% φόκουζντ όραμα για τα όσα θέλει να πει η Kent

Παρόλα αυτά το βιβλίο σηκώνει συζήτηση, η θέση της θρησκείας σε όλα αυτά έχει επίσης ψωμάκι, το σκηνικό του Ιρλανδικού χωριού πριν 200 χρόνια είναι εξαιρετικά στημένο από τη συγγραφέα και η μαυρίλα, το κρύο και η πείνα υποβάλλουν τον αναγνώστη.

Και τώρα πάμε στη βαθμολογία: Δεν έχω ιδέα. Θα μπορούσα να βάλω από 2,5 μέχρι 4 αστεράκια και α) Θα ήμουν μέσα στα όσα αισθάνομαι για το βιβλίο, β) Δε θα είχε καμία σημασία, όπως και όλες οι βαθμολογίες άλλωστε. Θα του βάλω λοιπόν 3*, επειδή μέση και επειδή τα 3* είναι in my book μια αξιοπρεπέστατη βαθμολογία για ένα βιβλίο [ή μια ταινία] που θα πει "μου άρεσε περισσότερο από όσο δε μου άρεσε".
Profile Image for Γιάννης Ζαραμπούκας.
Author 2 books160 followers
January 9, 2019
Ήταν κάπου στο 2014 όταν κυκλοφόρησε στην Ελλάδα το λογοτεχνικό πρωτόλειο της Αυστραλής συγγραφέως Hannah Kent από τις Εκδόσεις Ίκαρος με τίτλο Έθιμα Ταφής σε μετάφραση της κυρίας Μαρίας Αγγελίδου. Λογοτεχνικό πρωτόλειο το οποίο ταξίδεψε και συνεχίζει να ταξιδεύει ακόμη και σήμερα σε ράφια βιβλιοπωλείων και αγκαλιές αναγνωστών, με απόλυτη επιτυχία! Ένα μυθιστόρημα ατμοσφαιρικό που συνδυάζει την ποιότητα γραφής και το ενδιαφέρον της θεματολογίας του. Μυθιστόρημα που αγαπήθηκε, λατρεύτηκε θα τολμούσα να πω, αλλά και πολυσυζητήθηκε, αποτελώντας μία πολλά υποσχόμενη συγγραφική αρχή!

Μετά τα Έθιμα Ταφής λοιπόν που τα διάβασα κυρίως για να ικανοποιήσω την αναγνωστική μου περιέργεια, μα τελικά ήλθα αντιμέτωπος με ένα μυθιστόρημα που δίχως να θέλω να γίνω υπερβολικός πραγματικά με συγκλόνισε και χαράχτηκε παντοτινά στην αναγνωστική μου μνήμη, συμπόνεσα κι αγάπησα την πρωταγωνίστρια του βιβλίο Άγκνες , ανυπομονούσα για το επόμενο μυθιστόρημα της Kent και την συγγραφική της εξέλιξη.

Στη χώρα μας το δεύτερο μυθιστόρημα της Hannah Kent πάλι εξαιρετικά μεταφρασμένο από την κυρία Αγγελίδου έφτασε στα ράφια των βιβλιοπωλείων στις 4 του Δεκέμβρη με τίτλο ΟΙ ΚΑΛΟΙ. Δίχως δεύτερη σκέψη και δίχως να αναγνώσω το οπισθόφυλλο για να δω περί τίνος πρόκειται έτρεξα στο πλησιέστερο βιβλιοπωλείο, το προμηθεύτηκα και ξεκίνησα αμέσως τη διαδικασία της ανάγνωσης. Διαδικασία η οποία τελείωσε πριν από λίγες μέρες.

Το βιβλίο το διάβασα αρκετά αργά, όχι γιατί δεν με τράβηξε το θέμα του, όχι γιατί δεν βρήκα μέσα στις σελίδες του, τα στοιχεία εκείνα που με έκαναν να αγαπήσω τη γραφή της Kent, αλλά γιατί ήθελα να το απολαύσω στον υπερθετικό βαθμό!

ΟΙ ΚΑΛΟΙ λοιπόν είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα σαγηνευτικό.
Ένα μυθιστόρημα που αν αγάπησες τα Έθιμα Ταφής δεν θα σε αφήσει σίγουρα ασυγκίνητο, αφού η συγγραφέα οικοδομεί μία εφάμιλλη με ‘κείνη των Εθίμων Ταφής αναγνωστική ατμόσφαιρα!

Με φόντο την Ιρλανδία του 1825 και συγκεκριμένα την Κομητεία του Κέρι, η Αυστραλή συγγραφέας δίνει σάρκα και οστά σε μια γοητευτικά σκοτεινή εποχή, όπου οι κέλτικοι μύθοι και θρύλοι, οι παραδόσεις κι οι δεισιδαιμονίες ενός λαού, οι ρίζες του οποίου χάνονται στα βάθη του χρόνου καλά κρατούν κι αποτελούν αναπόσπαστο κομμάτι της καθημερινότητας του. Το άγνωστο, το παράξενο κι ασυνήθιστο για πολλούς, καθώς και το ανεξήγητο γεννούν το φόβο και διατηρούν αναμμένη τη φωτιά της κέλτικης παράδοσης που τείνει να σβήσει.

Όλα ξεκινούν με έναν αναπάντεχο θάνατο. . .

Η Νόρα Λίχι χάνει τον σύζυγο της Μάρτιν κι απομένει μονή με τη φροντίδα του ορφανού από μητέρα εγγονού της, Μίχολ, να την βαραίνει. Θλιμμένη απ’ τον χαμό του συζύγου κι αρκετά κουρασμένη από τις δυσκολίες της αγροτικής ζωής, η Νόρα θα αναζητήσει ένα άτομο επί πληρωμή, με σκοπό να τη βοηθήσει στην ανατροφή του εγγονού της. Ένα παιδί δύσκολο που εμφανίζει σωματική και νοητική αναπηρία. Συγκεκριμένα, ο Μίχολ δεν μπορεί να κινήσει τα άκρα του, τα οποία παρουσιάζουν έντονη σπαστικότητα, ενώ παράλληλα αδυνατεί να μιλήσει και να κατανοήσει τον λόγο των άλλων.

Για τη φροντίδα του, η Νόρα προσλαμβάνει ένα νεαρό κορίτσι για μιάμιση λίρα τη χρονιά, την κοκκινομαλούσα Μαίρη, η οποία αφήνει πίσω της την οικογένεια και τα αδέρφια της. Η Μαίρη αναλαμβάνει εξ’ ολοκλήρου τη φροντίδα του μικρού Μίχολ και παρά τις δυσκολίες που αντιμετωπίζει δένεται μαζί του. Καλλιεργείται μέσα της ένα βαθύ αίσθημα αγάπης για το μικρό αυτό αγόρι.

Αυτές οι δυσκολίες θα φέρουν τη χήρα στα όρια της. Γεγονός που συνδυαστικά με την πεποίθηση πως η ασθένεια του μικρού Μίχολ σχετίζεται κατά κάποιον τρόπο με την ύπαρξη των Καλών, στους οποίους συμπεριλαμβάνονται μυθικά πλάσματα, όπως οι νεράιδες και τα ξωτικά, θα οδηγήσουν τη συντετριμμένη Νόρα στη βοήθεια της Νανς Ρόουτς, μιας γυναίκας υπέργηρης, η οποία όμως έχει τη γνώση και τη δύναμη να θεραπεύει, να εξασκεί την τέχνη της παλιάς μαγείας και να έρχεται σε επαφή με τους Καλούς…

Καθώς οι τρεις αυτές γυναίκες, η Νόρα, η Μαίρη κι η Νανς, θα επιδοθούν σε έναν αγώνα θεραπείας της αρρώστιας του μικρού Μίχολ, θα έρθουν στο φως ιδιαίτερα ήθη, έθιμα, τελετουργίες και πιστεύω, που αποτελούν μέρος της λαϊκής παράδοσης του κέλτικου πολιτισμού. Τα οποία ωστόσο θα αμφισβητηθούν από πολλούς, μιας κι η επιστήμη έχει κάπως προοδεύσει και οι άνθρωποι της κοιλάδας αν και χωρικοί, δίχως μόρφωση έχουν αρχίσει να τα αμφισβητούν ύστερα από άμεση παρέμβαση του κλήρου.

Ο κλοιός στενεύει γύρω τους. Η αμφισβήτηση των όσων ήταν γνωστών μέχρι εκείνη την περίοδο εντείνεται. Θα καταφέρουν να επαναφέρουν το Μίχολ στην μέχρι πρότινος κατάσταση του;

Η Hannah Kent με τη γνώριμη πια εικονοπλαστική γραφή της καταφέρνει να οικοδομήσει μία ατμόσφαιρα σκοτεινή κι αρκετά ��αραμυθιακή. Μία ατμόσφαιρα όπου η υφέρπουσα αμφισημία κι ο μυστικισμός κυριαρχούν. Με περίσσεια παραστατικότητα δίνει ζωή σε έναν χαμένο κυριολεκτικά κόσμο, κόσμο που κινούνταν στους δικούς του ρυθμούς, με τους δικούς του κανόνες. Με μία έντονα φολκλορική, με την καλή έννοια της λέξης, διάθεση και την ποιητικότητα που συναντά κανείς στα γραπτά της η Kent βασιζόμενη σε αληθινά γεγονότα, αλλά και σε μία αστείρευτη πηγή έμπνευση που βεβαίως αποτελεί ο κέλτικος πολιτισμός δημιουργεί ένα κοινωνικό μυθιστόρημα που μαγνητίζει και εξάπτει το αναγνωστικό ενδιαφέρον με τη θεματολογίας του.

Η συγγραφέας και σε αυτό το μυθιστόρημα ψυχογραφεί άριστα τις τρεις ηρωίδες της, τη Νόρα, τη Μαίρη και τη Νανς. Ο αγώνας για την αναζήτηση μιας θεραπείας, που θα γιατρέψει τον δύσμοιρο Μίχολ γίνεται η αφορμή για να γίνουμε κοινωνοί στιγμών από την καθημερινότητα των τριών γυναικών. Συναισθήματα και σκέψεις τους, μας δίνονται απλόχερα κι αποτελούν τα λιθαράκια που μας βοηθούν στο να συνθέσουμε την άποψη μας για εκείνες. Παράλληλα, όμως, μας δίνεται για ακόμη μία φορά η ευκαιρία να γνωρίσουμε τη ρουτίνα των ανθρώπων της κοιλάδας! Τα λαογραφικά στοιχεία που γενναιόδωρα δίνονται από τη συγγραφέα δημιουργούν τεράστιο αναγνωστικό ενδιαφέρον!

Ξεχωριστό ακόμα στοιχείο, το οποίο ασκεί μεγάλη γοητεία στον αναγνώστη είναι η αντιφατικότητα που συναντά κανείς ανάμεσα στους τρεις αυτούς μυθιστορηματικούς χαρακτήρες, που πρωταγωνιστούν!

Ειδικότερα, έχουμε από τη μία τη γριά Νανς, η οποία πρεσβεύει μία περασμένη εποχή. Μια εποχή απαρχαιομένων αντιλήψεων και δεισιδαιμονιών, όπου το δύσκολα ή και πολλές φορές ακατόρθωτα εξηγήσιμο προκαλούσε φόβο και γεννούσε μία σειρά απόψεων με μυθικές διαστάσεις. Από την άλλη έχουμε τη νεαρή Μαίρη, η οποία ναι μεν έχει ανατραφεί μέσα σε ένα περιβάλλον όπου οι κελτικές παραδόσεις διατηρούνται ακόμα, έχουν όμως ξεθωριάσει κατά κάποιον τρόπο, με αποτέλεσμα να αμφισβητούνται. Και στο κέντρο αυτών η Νόρα Λίχι.

Μία γυναίκα κατατρεγμένη από τη ζωή, που ο πόνος της απώλειας και οι αυξημένες ευθύνες της καθημερινότητας την έχουν πραγματικά λυγίσει. Μία γυναίκα οι αντοχές της οποίας φυραίνουν επικίνδυνα. Μία γυναίκα που αμφιταλαντεύεται και δοκιμάζεται! Η πίστη της στο Θεό φθείρει. Τα γρανάζια της λογικής της κολλούν. Σταματούν να λειτουργούν. Κι η στροφή της στις κέλτικες παραδόσεις, τη μαγεία και την παλιά γνώση φαντάζει μονόδρομος. Θα αποτελέσουν το αποκούμπι και την παρηγοριά της.

Διαβάζοντας λοιπόν το συγκεκριμένο μυθιστόρημα, ο αναγνώστης θα μαγευτεί από τη γριά Νανς και την κέλτικη παράδοση που κουβαλά στους ώμους. Θα λυπηθεί τη Νόρα για τα δεινά που τη βρήκαν. Ίσως και να δικαιολογήσει κάποιες από τις συμπεριφορές της. Σίγουρα όμως θα αισθανθεί μεγάλη συμπάθεια κι αγάπη για τον Μίχολ, αλλά κυρίως για την τρίτη πρωταγωνίστρια του βιβλίου, τη Μαίρη, η οποία σχεδόν ανυστερόβουλα προσφέρει την αγάπη και τη φροντίδα της στο μικρό αυτό αγόρι!

Ολοκληρώνοντας, λοιπόν, ΟΙ ΚΑΛΟΙ της Hannah Kent είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα που θα ικανοποιήσει πλήρως όλους εκείνους που ξετρελάθηκαν με τα Έθιμα Ταφής! Προσωπικά, δεν ήθελα να τελειώσει η διαδικασία της ανάγνωσης γιατί εκείνη η σκοτεινή εποχή με ενθουσιάζει και προξενεί πάντα το ενδιαφέρον μου! Σίγουρα, η Kent ξέρει να διηγείται ιστορίες, να πλάθει χαρακτήρες με βάθος, να θίγει κοινωνικά ζητήματα του τότε και κατ' επέκταση να εντυπωσιάζει το αναγνωστικό κοινό!
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