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Cursed Bread: Longlisted for the Women’s Prize

Cursed Bread: Longlisted for the Women’s Prize by Sophie Mackintosh

As seen:

  • Women's Prize for Fiction 2023 Longlist

By Sophie Mackintosh

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From the Booker Prize-nominated author of The Water Cure comes a chilling new feminist fable based on the true story of an unsolved mystery…

A recommended read for 2023 in The Times, Guardian, Irish Times, Scotsman, iD, Good Housekeeping, Big Issue and Our Culture

‘A shimmering fever-dream of a novel’ Telegraph

‘A dreamy sapphic romp’ The Times

If you eat the bread, you’ll die, he said. The statement made no sense, but it filled me with an electric dread.

Elodie is the baker’s wife. A plain, unremarkable woman, ignored by her husband and underestimated by her neighbours, she burns with the secret desire to be extraordinary. One day a charismatic new couple appear in town – the ambassador and his sharp-toothed wife, Violet – and Elodie quickly falls under their spell. All summer long she stalks them through the shining streets: inviting herself into their home, eavesdropping on their coded conversations, longing to be part of their world.

Meanwhile, beneath the tranquil surface of daily life, strange things are happening. Six horses are found dead in a sun-drenched field, laid out neatly on the ground like an offering. Widows see their lost husbands walking up the moonlit river, coming back to claim them. A teenage boy throws himself into the bonfire at the midsummer feast. A dark intoxication is spreading through the town, and when Elodie finally understands her role in it, it will be too late to stop.

Audacious and mesmerising, Cursed Bread is a fevered confession, an entry into memory’s hall of mirrors, a fable of obsession and transformation. Sophie Mackintosh spins a darkly gleaming tale of a town gripped by hysteria, envy like poison in the blood, and desire that burns and consumes.

‘Gauzy [and] gripping, a quietly rich maturation of Mackintosh’s skill’ Guardian

The Spectator Book of the Year 2023


30 Jul 2023


What an imagination Sophie Mackintosh has! She starts with a germ of an idea, in this case the true story of a mass poisoning in a French village in 1951, and weaves so much else around it. It's very beautifully written and quite gripping in its strangeness. There's also quite a lot of sex and the threat of violence is never far away which creates a sinister tension. A good read.

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