Virtual Booked For Lunch: The Good People by Hannah Kent

Monday, May 24 at Noon via Zoom.

One of our favorite parts about reading is talking about what we’ve read. It doesn’t matter if we loved it or had to force our way through, books always lend themselves easily to conversation. Booked for Lunch, the library’s monthly noon time book club, offers the perfect venue for friendly, interesting and often enlightening dialog with other book enthusiasts. This month we are reading and discussing The Good People by Hannah Kent.

Nóra Leahy becomes the object of gossip and speculation in the rural Irish valley she inhabits after the 1825 death of her laborer husband, Martin. Nóra’s desperate attempts to hide from her neighbors the existence of the severely disabled grandson who came into her care after the death of his own mother—Nóra’s beloved daughter, Johanna—soon come undone, and Micheál’s presence in the valley becomes the focal point of the malignant attentions of her fellow valley-dwellers, who are seeking an answer and anodyne for a reversal in fortunes that has beset the area.

Long-standing belief in the destructive powers of “the Good People,” fairylike creatures whose motives and methods are the subject of endless speculation in Nóra’s agrarian community, leads to hostility against Micheál, who is suspected of being a “changeling,” substituted by the Good People in place of Nóra’s actual grandson. Nóra’s frantic efforts to recover the happy boy she comes to believe was spirited away by the Good People—who seem also to have bestowed new plagues and poverty on the valley—are aided by Nance, a grizzled, mysterious woman reputed to know the ways of the frequently malevolent beings, and Mary, a softhearted young household maid.

A nerve-wracking series of efforts to banish the creature thought to be masquerading as Micheál illuminates the clash between traditional values and ways of life clung to in the valley and newly emerging beliefs in science—and perhaps a different brand of superstition—encouraged by clergy, the more educated, and residents of a nearby city that seems worlds away. Kent’s well-researched tale is inspired by newspaper reports of an actual attempt in 19th-century Ireland to banish a changeling. [Review taken from Kirkus online (]

Grab yourself a snack, settle into your favorite reading spot, and step back in time to enter the land of The Good People. We have a feeling there’s going to be plenty to talk about! Copies of the book are available for checkout at the library and you can find the eBook on the Libby App. Sorry, no digital audio is available for this one. If you are interested in joining the virtual conversation on Monday, May 24 at noon, please drop Robin B. a note. You can reach her at or by calling 978-249-9515. Happy reading!