Agnes Magnusdottir is a non-fictional person. She was the last woman sentenced to death, accused of her involvement in the murder of two men. One of them was her lover and boss, in fact. Agnes was abandoned by her parents and condemned to a life of misery and poverty from her birth. She used to work in farmlands for plenty of families in Iceland just to ensure roof and bread. Her wide fame across the frozen valleys of Iceland as a hard- working, patient and persistent woman was tarnished when she switched from her role as a dependable charwoman to that of a murderer.
She and her accomplice Fridrik Sigurdsson were sentenced to death by Blödal, the District Commissioner while the third partner in this double crime, Sigridur Gudmundsdottir escaped the death penalty. Furthermore, the verdict inflicted the contribution of two holy men that would support and lead them to attrition and absolution, as well as the housing of Agnes by the family of the District Officer Jonsson due to the lack of female prisons.
Jonsson, his wife and daughters got really horrified at the prospect of living with a criminal, judged both by public opinion and the district court. He found it hard to comply with it and welcome at his home a stigmatized woman. There is no way, however, to deny and not conform to the order, so the family was forced to live the final months of the woman awaiting her execution.
Things changed when family members came close to Agnes, as they could see that things were not in fact as they might seem or as proved at the court. Agnes was a long-suffering woman. Even her involvement in the murder was triggered as a way to prevent the unbearable torture of a slow death. It was all about her deep love for Natan, one of the victims that led her to get involved.It was all about his treachery, his deceitful promises, the shame, a feeling concerning not only her but also the entire “god-fearing” and “god-respecting” society. A society so afraid of God as of Natan and Agnes. It was so afraid that created rumors and legends about both the victim and criminal. The reason why they were accused of is the same with the difference that the first one was honourably cited while the latter was sentenced to death.
The cine version was mainly structured on a third-person narrative mode. However, the convicted woman intervened with her monologue confessing through a vivid description how she felt the hate and self-interest of people on her body and soul. This common, let’s say literary “trick” effectively contributes to the story progression while enhancing its ad hoc narrative vividness. The complications involved due to the Icelandic names are softened through vivid images, rich metaphors and similes that are conveyed. The correlation between human emotions and weather conditions highlights not only the basic elements of this tragedy to be narrated but also the writing talent.
Translated in Greek: Maria Aggelidou
Published in Greek by: Ikaros Publications
Hannah Kent was born in Adelaida in 1985. The first time she heard of the legends of Agnes Magnusdottir was in Iceland when she took part in a student exchange program. She is considered to be one of the most promising new writers worldwide as her first book has already been translated into many languages. Even its book cover has evoked great inspiration as for its artwork. Last but not least, she is the editor of the literary magazine “Kill Your Darlings”.