Oh, this book was so painful. I read it a month ago and it still hurts. It is based on real life events: the last time the capital punishment was used in Iceland, in 1830.
There isn't much known about Agnes Magnusdottir and Friedrik Sigurdsson other than they were executed for the gruesome murder of two men. Hannah Kent spent 10 years researching and decided to write this book, which is part history and part speculation. I really liked that Burial Rites doesn't try to tell you what an innocent soul Agnes was, but instead it shows her as a real human being, with passion, loss, love and mistakes. The prose is magnificent and there is such a depth in everything Kent describes, that you can't help feeling overwhelmed at times, wishing the ending didn't have to happen the way it did.