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The Good People (Paperback)
  • The Good People (Paperback)
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The Good People (Paperback)

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£8.99
Paperback 400 Pages / Published: 07/09/2017
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Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize 2017

Pulling his coat over the both of them, she closed her eyes and her lungs emptied of air. Pain descended with the weight of water and she felt that she was drowning. Her chest shuddered, and she was crying into her husband’s collarbone, into his clothes reeking of the earth and cow shit and the soft sweet smell of the valley air and all the turf smoke it carried on an autumn evening. She cried like a pining dog, with the strained, strung whimper of abandonment.

Sometimes all that protects us from our fear of what is unknown is our belief in that which is unproven.

County Kerry, Ireland, 1825.

Nora, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband and daughter, 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 and the only person who knows how to keep the malevolent influences of the good people at bay. 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 new novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up the Waterstones’ championed debut Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers, living up to a reputation for creating dark, immersive and subtly affecting fictional worlds.

‘Kent has a terrific feel for the language of her setting… This is a serious and compelling novel about how those in desperate circumstances cling to ritual as a bulwark against their own powerlessness.’ – Graeme Macrae Burnet (author of His Bloody Project),The Guardian

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781447233367
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 285 g
Dimensions: 197 x 130 x 24 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Kent conjures up with exceptional intensity and empathy a world in which folk beliefs hold as much sway over people's minds as religious faith . . . It would have been all too easy to present this story as a conflict between rational enlightenment and peasant superstition, but the main strength of Kent's narrative is that it avoids such a simple dichotomy. 'I have told you my truth,' Nance tells the court during the trial scenes that provide the book's climax. Such is the power of Kent's imaginative sympathy with her characters that this becomes not merely the mantra of a deluded old woman, but a moving statement of her continuing faith in her own vision of the way the world works . . . The Good People is an even better novel than Burial Rites - a starkly realised tale of love, grief and misconceived beliefs * Sunday Times *
Lyrical and unsettling, The Good People is a vivid account of the contradictions of life in rural Ireland in the 19th century. A literary novel with the pace and tension of a thriller, Hannah Kent takes us on a frightening journey towards an unspeakable tragedy. I am in awe of Kent's gifts as a storyteller. -- Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train
The Good People is, like Burial Rites, a thoroughly engrossing entree into the macabre nature of a vanished society, its virtues and its follies and its lethal impulses. The Good People takes us straight to a place utterly unexpected and believable, where amidst the earnest mayhem people impose on each other, there is no patronizing quaintness, but a compelling sense of the inevitability of solemn horrors -- Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's Ark (winner of the Booker Prize)
Beautiful . . . the setting and the characters drew me in immediately and kept me completely absorbed -- Claire King, author of The Night Rainbow
The Good People is a novel about how competing systems of thought - religious, medical, folkloric and, eventually, legal - attempt to make sense of the bad stuff that happens. Significantly, the novel is set in a valley, a place cut off from the outside world. The community - and the novel - feels claustrophobic. The characters are trapped in their crucible of mutterings and gossip by a combination of geography, ancestry and poverty. It is to Kent's credit that she never passes judgment on her protagonists' beliefs, even as they lead them to ever more extreme, even insane, behaviour . . . Kent has a terrific feel for the language of her setting. The prose is richly textured with evocative vocabulary - skib, spancel, creepie stool . . . the overall result is to transport the reader deep into the rural Irish hinterlands. This is a serious and compelling novel about how those in desperate circumstances cling to ritual as a bulwark against their own powerlessness -- Graeme Macrae Burnet * Guardian *
Hannah Kent's second novel is a thorough study of the faiths and rituals of a rural community, as well as a poignant portrayal of grief * Financial Times *
The Good People transports us to Co Kerry, west Ireland, in 1826 . . . Kent doesn't just show us rural Ireland; she lets us smell it, touch it and feel it too, from the heat of the turf fires to the sharp, bitter smell of a woman, fresh in from the rain . . . The Good People lies somewhere between Andrew Michael Hurley's gothic The Loney and Emma Donoghue's latest novel, The Wonder . . . an absorbing and imaginative novel about superstition and the old ways * Times *
An imaginative tour-de-force that recreates a way of perceiving the world with extraordinary vividness . . . With its exquisite prose, this harrowing, haunting narrative of love and suffering is sure to be a prize-winner * Daily Mail *
Hannah Kent has terrific form as a historical novelist - her highly acclaimed debut, Burial Rites, set in a 19th-century Icelandic village, was shortlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction. This novel, based on a true story, is even better. As the tale slowly builds, Kent creates an immersive, startlingly lyrical portrait of a time when the borders between logic and superstition were dangerously porous and where the Catholic church is determined to strengthen its grip . . . thrillingly alive to the dynamic of poor, close-knit communities, where fear of the outsider trumps reason and compassion * Metro *
Remarkable . . . Kent displays an uncanny ability to immerse herself in an unfamiliar landscape and to give that landscape a life - a voice - that is utterly convincing . . . a haunting novel, shrewdly conceived and beautifully written * The Australian *
A sensitively drawn tale of love, grief, and terrible loss * The Age *
The Good People is a sensitively drawn tale of love, grief, and terrible loss, set in a tiny Irish village in the early 19th century . . . filled with descriptions of ritual and rhythm * Canberra Times *

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Reviews

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“Hannah Kent confirms herself as a master storyteller. ”

From the author of the highly acclaimed novel Burial Rites comes her second novel The Good People and the idea for this book came while writing Burial Rites and confirms that Hannah Kent is a master storyteller.

Set... More

Hardback edition
6th March 2017
Helpful? Upvote 64

“Could it be magic?”

Having only very recently read another Picador publication “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue it is easy to see parallels between that and this book, Australian author Hannah Kent’s second novel.
Both are set in... More

Hardback edition
7th February 2017
Helpful? Upvote 64
Leilah at Doncaster

“Away with the fairies...”

I was a huge fan of Hannah Kent’s debut ‘Burial Rites’, so was excited to read her second novel. ‘The Good People’ shares some key features with its predecessor – 1820’s hard rural labour, complex women, immaculately... More

Hardback edition
1 similar book recommended
22nd January 2017
Helpful? Upvote 36

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