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Book review: Devotion by Hannah Kent

After loving Burial Rites and The Good People, I was pretty sure that I’d enjoy Hannah Kent’s latest novel.

And when I started reading Devotion, I immediately knew I was in safe hands.

Kent does not release new books regularly by any means and this one was a long time coming.

The start of the book takes place in Prussia in the 1880s, Devotion follows the story of Hanne, a member of a devout Lutheran community. Fleeing persecution, they travel by boat to South Australia.

The first part of the book is largely set in Europe and on the boat, and I enjoyed this section the most. In Prussia, Hanne meets her first and only real friend, and the two become inseparable.

From there, Devotion becomes a love story between the two young women.

While I love Kent’s style of writing, I have to admit that I found the love story to be overly sentimental. Perhaps I am cold and heartless, but I can only take so much blind adoration and I felt overwhelmed by all the different ways Kent found of describing the depth of Hanne’s love.

There is also a twist in the story, which I won’t give away. Some other readers don’t like the direction the book took after the twist, while others love it.

I thought it was clever and different, so even though I enjoyed the first half of the book better, it wasn’t the twist that bothered me. With some more editing I think this would have been a really effective and unique story.

So while this book wasn’t really for me, Kent remains one of my favourite Australian authors.

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