The Good People

The Good People

Book - 2017 | First United States edition
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Nóra, bereft after the death of her husband, finds herself alone and caring for her grandson Micheál, who can neither speak nor walk. A handmaid, Mary, arrives to help Nóra just as rumors begin to spread that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Nóra and Mary enlist the help of Nance, an elderly wanderer who understands the magic of the old ways.
Three women in nineteenth-century Ireland bond over a shared effort to rescue a child from a superstitious community that believes that his trauma-related inability to speak indicates that he is a changeling responsible for a series of misfortunes.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2017
Edition: First United States edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780316243964 (hardcover)
0316243965 (hardcover)
Branch Call Number: FIC KENT
Characteristics: 388 pages : illustration, map ; 25 cm

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liljables Feb 15, 2018

Hannah Kent's first novel, Burial Rites, really knocked my socks off, so I was very excited to read her latest offering, The Good People. The two novels are similar in many ways: they're both thoroughly researched historical fiction based on true events from the 1820s, focusing on the lives of women during that time, and the tension among religion, superstition, and science.
In The Good People, Kent writes about a rural Irish village in which an unwell child is believed by some to be a changeling, the real child swept away by fairies. When a "conventional" doctor and the local priest can offer no solutions for the boy's ailments, the child's grandmother turns to the local wise woman for assistance. Although a cynical atheist like myself sees the church-sanctioned cures and the more mystical treatments as two sides of the same unlikely coin, the author writes about these warring factions with no condescension, capturing the fear of the unknown perfectly. I was completely captivated by this novel, and I'm already craving more from Hannah Kent.

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hannahwantz
Feb 12, 2018

I thought this was a good read! informative, entertaining, emotionally charged, and beautifully written.

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finn75
Dec 29, 2017

An excellent historical novel based in a 19th century Irish village where Catholicism and folklore sit side by side. The story revolves around the belief of one woman that her Grandson has been kidnapped by the fairies and replaced with a changeling. Her earnest attempts to get her Grandson back will have dire consequences for the maid and the local healer woman who she trusts will have the knowledge to help her. What follows is harrowing but the intent is pure. It makes for a disturbing but enthralling work of historical fiction.

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feyfriend
Nov 24, 2017

I have to admit I approached Kent's novel with some suspicion. How would she treat this subject, and her characters? With a superior sort of condescension, a distant "educated" view of these illiterates, grimed by endless toil? I know my sources too, and would she get the lore right? Well, here's what I learned: when hesitant, dive in! This woman is a remarkable writer, and though I've not read anything else by her I truly treasure what she has accomplished with this novel. It weaves together so many strands, and reading her you get a history, and a time all playing out before you, and like another writer I love, Emma Donoghue, Kent transported me to pre-famine Ireland in a way that was nearly total. And like the people who live close to the land, she brings us the feels, smells and sights of the changing days as the people notice and experience them. For the majority of white western culture, whose brains have been marinated in Enlightenment thinking these last centuries, world views that encompass the non-linear, or "irrational" can seem mad. Sadly the rationalist view cannot allow for the possibility of another way of knowing. Ireland and parts of Scotland may have been the last hold outs in European culture that held this view, though we see by the end of the book those ways are already straining credulity among the city dwellers. I am glad to have met the whole village she brought me, and non more than the old healer Nance Roche. Highly recommended.

ehbooklover Oct 12, 2017

This a powerful book about superstition in 19th Century Ireland. It caused me to feel many different emotions: pity, anger, frustration, and sadness to name just a few. As with Kent's previous novel (Burial Rites), this title is based on a true story and it is absolutely beautifully written.

LoganLib_Dove May 06, 2017

This book is an amazing exploration of the Irish culture and the fascination with fairies. The book explores three women's lives affected by a child they believed to be a changling. This world is enchanting and disturbing, and very very humanising. I couldn't put this book down.

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