From the Booker-nominated author of The Water Cure and Blue Ticket comes a chilling new feminist fable, based on the true story of an unsolved historical mystery…
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 person, largely ignored by her husband and everyone else, she burns with the secret hunger to be extraordinary, to be desired, to be seen. 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, trying to decipher their coded conversations, longing to possess them at any cost. 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 river in the night, 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.