Debut novel from an Australian writer.
Based in Iceland in 1829 the book starts with an explanation of "sson" and "dottir" giving the impression it's going to be difficult to keep track of the characters. It isn't.
Agnes Magnusdottir is sentenced to death for the murder of her lover but the sentence is not to be carried out immediately. Transferred from a prison to be contained in a family home of a local dignitary she gradually reveals her story to the family.
Forced into the roles of jailers the family find it difficult to switch from their normal manner to any strangers or servants and simply treat her as an additional member of the household, allbeit slightly warier.
Set in inhospitable countryside there is some great description throughout. The hardship of walking to find work and the whole way of life when there is no money to be spent plays out really well and encourages the reader to compare then and now while reading.
All the while around Agnes preparations are being made for her execution and her support is provided in the form of a very naive trainee priest.
Great interaction, great environment and excellent debut.
Publisher - Picador