Longlisted for the Women’s Prize
Publisher:Penguin Books Ltd
Published:2nd Mar '23
Available to order, but very limited on stock - if we have issues obtaining a copy, we will let you know.
This hardback is available in another edition too:
GRANTA BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS 2023
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
A shimmering fever-dream of a novel, teasing the reader [..] while finding a fresh narrative framework for the relationship between monotonous small-town life and repressed female desire. Cursed Bread contains more riches than many a novel twice its length * Telegraph *
A quietly rich maturation of Mackintosh's skill... This is a book about the power desire and greed exert over reality and memory... Mackintosh has entered a brilliant new stage of writing * Guardian *
Nimble, terrifying... Mackintosh is a wonderful prose stylist and she uses many of the resources that served her well in her Booker prize-nominated debut, The Water Cure: the slow unravelling of sanity, the isolated and mysterious setting, that feeling of panting, crawling, unfulfilled desire... A dreamy sapphic romp * The Times *
Remarkable,sensuous, thrillingly written . . . Mackintosh's evocation of desire is so tangible that you can smell the aroma of illicit sex * Observer *
A richly atmospheric tale of greed, desire and vainglorious ambition, the plot centres around Elodie, wife of the village baker, who projects the wants and desires from her own unfulfilling marriage onto the arrival of two glamorous newcomers to the village... Shimmering with an almost hallucinatory quality throughout, closing its pages at The End feels like waking up from a fever dream. Fascinating. * Marie Claire *
A sun-scorched fever dream . . . Mackintosh's top-notch phrasemaking and knack for forming uncanny images generate a baleful atmosphere of lust and dread in this splendidly peculiar tale * Daily Mail *
Sensual, luminous, transcendent... This tale of obsession, desire and betrayal has a timeless, dreamlike quality. It confirms Mackintosh as one of our finest young writers * The Bookseller, Editor's Choice *
As in her previous novels, Mackintosh's prose is eerie but minimalist - dreamlike yet grounded. Her style elevates plot to the status of fable or allegory without resorting to straightforward metaphor. This a story shrouded in mist, thick with meaning * New Statesman *
This novel is a masterclass in observation, of fracturing personalities but also in its tight and nuanced portrait of the rituals and minutiae of small-town life. Afterwards, you'll want to devour it all over again * Independent *
Mackintosh's dark imagination and precision as a prose stylist combine to devastating effect, as unsettling as it is unpredictable * Financial Times *
Sensual, brilliant... This strange fable takes place in a 20th-century French village (and, remarkably, is based on a true story). It is the sort of tale that you will want to sneak a chapter of at the dinner table before food is served. The book details the progress of a maddening, hot summer... Be warned: you will never look at a boulangerie in the same way again * Daily Telegraph (Summer Reads) *
A thrilling and subversive fable * i-D *
Distinctive, cool, sparse... An eerie ambiguity fills Cursed Bread * i *
Intoxicating, sumptuous and savage, Cursed Bread has a gothic sensibility that is entirely original. In Mackintosh's hands, the strange, compulsive machinations of desire become luminous and ghastly all at once -- Alexandra Kleeman, author of 'You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine'
Sensuous and haunted, like Madame Bovary reworked as a ghost story - an incredible book about desire, pleasure, beauty. Sophie's fiction always has a gauzy quality, filled with strange, languid images, which rise to a narrative crescendo like clues in a detective novel. She makes it look effortless -- Jo Hamya, author of 'Three Rooms'
Cursed Bread floored me on the first page and didn't let up for the rest of the journey. It always feels like a true privilege to spend time with Sophie Mackintosh's brilliant mind and she is only getting better and weirder and wilder. A knockout -- Megan Nolan, author of 'Acts of Desperation'
Macabre and sensuous... [It] packs a punch * Mail on Sunday *
Her writing is so sleek, the characters mysterious and yet indelible - a taut, seductive, thrilling gem of a novel -- Olivia Sudjic, author of 'Asylum Road'
Sophie Mackintosh takes a true story and asks what any of us really know about what is true? Our desires poison us. Shame and longing intertwine. We hide even from ourselves... This novel is subtle and devouring; reading it is like being slowly swallowed by the night -- Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of 'Starling Days'
Vivid and shocking, written with stunning, incantatory prose,Cursed Bread is the kind of book that upends your nervous system -- Julia May Jonas , author of Vladimir
Bloody, sexy, sinister, strange. This book will take hold of you -- Saba Sams, author of 'Send Nudes'
Everything Sophie Mackintosh is so febrile and tactile, when you read her books you feel as if you live in them. The world felt so eerie after finishing Cursed Bread. I didn't feel quite the same as I was before, but in the best way -- Annie Lord, author of 'Notes on Heartbreak'
A story of love, lust and appetite . . . a book I haven’t been able to stop thinking about * The Spectator 'Best Books of 2023' *
Pristine, visceral & wild. She's a master. You won't be disappointed -- Sarah Rose Etter, author of 'The Book of X'
Gorgeously atmospheric and feverishly compulsive [on] amorphous longings and desires, and the hot shame of wanting more than you deserve -- Lara Williams, author of 'Supper Club'
Sophie Mackintosh has given her strange and intriguing imagination the opportunity to flourish. There is tension on every page * Prospect *
A thrilling and feverish fable of secret desire * Monocle *
PRAISE FOR BLUE TICKET: 'Its cool intensity and strange beauty is a wonder - be sure to read everything Sophie Mackintosh writes' -- Deborah Levy, author of 'Hot Milk' and 'The Man Who Saw Everything'
Dimensions: 224mm x 143mm x 20mm