Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh
JOINT REVIEW~CURSED BREAD
Our foray into the @womensprize long list continues. I love Sophie Mackintosh’s style; sparse and haunting, she has a way of making every word work. Though I’ve not read her first and Booker longlisted novel, Water Cure, I really enjoyed — and recently reviewed — her second book, Blue Ticket.
Cursed Bread is quite a different kettle of fish but gosh, I was so taken in by the premise. Based on the true story of an unsolved mystery — a 1951 mass poisoning in the French town of Pont-Saint-Espirit, the book’s narrator is Elodie, the baker’s wife. Her marriage is lacking, to say the very least, and when a new couple arrive in town, excitement ensues and changes everything. The dynamic between the four characters — the two couples — lies at the core of this novel as it shifts in time, into the future.
Mackintosh does foreboding utterly brilliantly and the mystery around this novel will keep you on the edge of your proverbial seat until you close the last page. Eerie and edgy, it’s beautifully structured and superbly woven together. Genuinely, I don’t think there’s anything that I’ve ever read quite like it~S
There can be no doubt that Mackintosh is a phenomenal writer. In little time she is able to create tension, atmosphere and a palpable mist that is truly disconcerting. Cursed Bread is infused with eroticism and longing at every single turn, and as things become more surreal, this builds subtly until I found myself racing through the pages, transfixed. It’s a strange story, one in which the narrative is confessional, disjointed and almost hallucinatory.
I think the reason this deserves its place on the longlist is because the writing is masterful. The prose is hypnotic, I felt like I couldn’t move whilst reading. It’s a haze of a plot, exploring the impact of being unfulfilled in the aftermath of war. When I finished this I was left questioning what on earth I had just read and what the heck had happened – C