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Description - Devotion by Hannah Kent

BOOKTOPIA'S FAVOURITE BOOK OF 2021

Prussia, 1836

Hanne Nussbaum is a child of nature - she would rather run wild in the forest than conform to the limitations of womanhood. In her village of Kay, Hanne is friendless and considered an oddity . . . until she meets Thea.

Ocean, 1838

The Nussbaums are Old Lutherans, bound by God's law and at odds with their King's order for reform. Forced to flee religious persecution the families of Kay board a crowded, disease-riddled ship bound for the new colony of South Australia. In the face of brutal hardship, the beauty of whale song enters Hanne's heart, along with the miracle of her love for Thea. Theirs is a bond that nothing can break.

The whale passed. The music faded.

South Australia, 1838

A new start in an old land. God, society and nature itself decree Hanne and Thea cannot be together. But within the impossible . . . is devotion.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INDIE BOOK AWARDS FICTION 2022
LONGLISTED FOR THE AUSTRALIAN BOOK DESIGN AWARDS 2022 BEST DESIGNED LITERARY FICTION COVER
LONGLISTED FOR THE ABIA LITERARY FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022
Praise for Devotion

'Devotion is utterly original. A glorious, heartbreaking love story of infinite beauty.' - Heather Rose

'Hannah Kent's latest novel is stunning - full of magic and adventure. I fell in love with language again reading it. So beautiful and so raw. Devotion is impossibly good.' - Evie Wyld

'Such a glorious love story. And the poetry of the landscape had, for me, a Whitmanesque sensibility. A mighty impassioned cry to love and the land.' - Sarah Winman

'Devotion is rare and exquisite, both beautiful and muscular in its portrayal of love found and denied. It's a story of love as a radical act, and a celebration of place and persistence. As we've come to expect from Kent, this is masterful storytelling with pull-no-punches stakes. It's taken root in my heart.' - Kiran Millwood Hargrave

'I absolutely love this book. Hannah Kent writes some of the most transcendently beautiful prose I've ever read.' - Magda Szubanski

'Devotion is a rich, often surprising novel, written with the sort of prosody poets like me are always seeking.' - The Conversation

Buy Devotion by Hannah Kent from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9781760556457
Format: Paperback / softback
(231mm x 156mm x 32mm)
Pages: 432
Imprint: Picador Australia
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publish Date: 26-Oct-2021
Country of Publication: Australia

Book Reviews - Devotion by Hannah Kent

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Book Review: Devotion by Hannah Kent - Reviewed by (26 Oct 2021)

5 stars Devotion is the third novel by best-selling award-winning Australian author, Hannah Kent. Hanne Nussbaum is almost fifteen when the Eichenwald family join their Old Lutheran community in the Prussian village of Kay. Hanne is friendless, connecting better with the sky and the trees, the river and the stars, than people, her twin brother Matthias the only one who understands her even a bit.

“Even as a young child I had felt that girls forsook on whim and offered only inconstant friendship. Allegiances seemed to shift from day to day like sandbanks in a riverbed and, inevitably, I found myself run aground. Better to befriend a blanket of moss, the slip-quick of fish dart. Never was the love I poured into the river refused.”

But Anna Maria Eichenwald seems to see her, to understand her instantly. When Hanne encounters Anna Maria’s daughter, Thea for the first time in her beloved forest, there’s none of the scorn the other village girls aim at her. Instead, Thea offers acceptance and interest. They quickly become close, trying to be together at every opportunity.

Their community, having rejected the King’s union of the Protestant Churches, has to worship in secret; their pastor has fled, their church, bell removed, is locked by soldiers. The chance to leave, to emigrate to another land, a place where they will not be persecuted, is welcomed by the elders, but Hanne fears it will tear her from Thea: will the Eichenwalds join them?

After an emotional leave-taking, a tiring journey to the port and delays, some two hundred souls finally cram into a ship with eighty berths for a six-month journey to South Australia. Crowded together, with less than optimum nutrition and water from tainted barrels, illness inevitably strikes, and a reduced number arrives at their longed-for paradise, the place they will build, Heiligendorf, their joy tempered by grief.

Years later Hanne shares what she saw, heard, took part in: “I have described what has happened to me, and what I felt, and what I continue to feel. Gathered up and thrown on the wind to be wound on the air. To stir leaves and gutter candles and fill the sails of ships. I am unthreaded of it. I am the empty eye of the needle.”

Once again, Kent gives the reader a masterpiece, a tale of love and grief and steadfastness. She describes a community persecuted for their beliefs, but who, when free to follow those beliefs, display less tolerance than might be hoped. The depth of her research into so many aspects of the lives of such a community is apparent on every page. Emotions are expertly rendered.

Her prose is often exquisite, poetic: “The wings drew closer, beating against the sky. Rippling it. Cut the light with feathered knives” and “I had felt affirmation in my bones and blood and the wick of my soul had caught flame, had burned bright” and “And the birds, ever here, ever singing, a liturgy to govern the hours towards gods of cry and shriek and call. Kookaburra, magpie, shrike-thrush, wagtail. Currawong, crow, boobook. Scripture may no longer roll off my tongue in smooth certainty, but my mouth is still full of spirit. Holy Writ of living things, each one a prayer against the teeth” are examples.

Hanne’s description of aboriginal dance: “The Peramangk were the first people I ever saw dancing… The music was unlike anything I had heard before. It threaded itself under my skin until I felt sewn through with sound, and then it pulled me to its source… the beauty and urgency of their movement was everything I had imagined dancing might be, their bodies shaped and held by a music that was closer to the sound I heard coming from the earth than any hymn of my homeland.” This is an absolute pleasure to read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Pan Macmillan Australia.


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