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Seldom Seen [Hardcover]

Sarah Ridgard
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 12.77 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Aug 2012

Desiree White was walking through the fields of winter wheat and oilseed rape when she saw it.

She picked the newspaper bundle out of the ditch and took it to the phone box.

Across the baby's tiny body she could see a faint tattoo of Lady Di's face where some of the newsprint had rubbed off. It was like finding a featherless bird fallen out of its nest.

No-one had ever bothered much about Desiree but now everyone is interested in her, in what she saw, in who the parents might be and why they'd dump a baby. Even Bernie Capon, her older brother's best friend, wants to know what she thinks.

As years go by and everyone else moves on with their lives, Desiree feels stuck, unable to forget what she saw that day. Somehow she owes it to the baby to solve the mystery. But when she starts to make connections which bring the truth dangerously close to home, it seems that some secrets are best left alone.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (2 Aug 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0091944120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091944124
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 230,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"With its drunken farmers and tongue-wagging wives, the rural Suffolk community of Ridgard's debut novel is privy to some outlandish goings-on. Fortunately for the reader, the young narrator, Desiree, is witness to most of these scandals. Haunted by the body of a discarded baby she finds in a ditch, she decides to untangle the mystery surrounding the corpse; as she does so, her family and the village gradually come apart around her." (Sunday Times)

"Death and mayhem in sleepy rural Suffolk . . . Ridgard's evocation of landscape, of farming, its seasons, cruelties and epiphanies, is striking." (Guardian)

"Sarah Ridgard has created such a wonderfully evoked and fully-realised world - the earthy Suffolk landscape she describes is like a character in itself. The strange, dark, brooding atmosphere will stay with me for a long time." (Gerard Woodward)

Book Description




A mesmerising debut set in Suffolk in the 1980s - the story of a young girl's awakening to the cruelty of the world

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard 10 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a really good read, and although I did not get into it straight away, in the end it was a page turner: I was racing through to find out who did it - ie who had the baby and why was it thrown into a ditch. It is more of a mystery than a murder, with a ghost or two, but there are quite a few dead bodies stacked up by the end although not quite the numbers you would get in Midsomer Murders.

Set in 1982 a dead armless baby - wrapped in paper which has a picture of Lady Di getting engaged - is found in a ditch in the deep countryside of Suffolk. But this is not urban downsizers heaven: it is more Cold Comfort Farm. Quite a few of the characters seem to be suffering from seeing something nasty in the woodshed. And although the landscapes, plants and animals are often described in an original and poetic way there is a hardnosed realism throughout - the fields are all sprayed; the chickens are butchered industrially; if there is a ditch it will be filled with fly tipped junk; Sizewell lurks in the distance; the people are poor, semi-employed and have little to do but have crap sex in unromantic settings.

Desiree - named after a potatoe - does solve the mystery of the baby and kind of sorts herself out. But there are not any happy endings. I would love to read more stories by this writer. And would recommend anyone worried about industrial chemicals but put off by scientific explanations to read this book. But be warned it is quite frightening.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a super read! 19 Sep 2012
By JillV
I took this book on holiday and didn't engage with my family for the first three days. Desiree is an intresting character who works in the local shop and hears the daily gossip. For anyone who has been to Suffolk this book will particularly appeal. It is full of beautiful descriptions of the area and fields around. Immediatly I was spellbound as to why anybody could dump a baby in a ditch. Each chapter takes you to another place from the Goat shed to the allotments and finally ending up at Tannington Church. For a first novel I think it is superb. I am now waiting for Sarah Ridgard's next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Seldom Seen 15 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book. Literally. The cover is a triumph.

Inside, the words are equally elegant as we learn about life in rural Suffolk in the 1980s. But this is not a romantic view of cosy cottages, this is a tale with death and poverty and mental illness and deceit. Beware, the book has a high body count! It also includes subjects such as: nuclear power; the use of pesticides on the land; class conflict; sibling rivalry, all handled in a subtle and compelling way.

We are taken into the world of a young girl who has discovered a dead baby in one of the fields. The mystery of `who was the mother` is the thread through the narrative, but the plot encompasses much more. Once I had settled into the contemplative pace of the book the world set out before me was so clear, so entwined, that I couldn't stop reading.

A great literary thriller, which deserves to do well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric 27 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this story: it was both atmospheric and evocative of place and time. The plot is subtly woven and by no means predictable. I heard a review on Radio 4's "Good Read" and immediately went home and downloaded the book to my kindle: it did not disappoint in any way at all. I look forward to reading more by Sarah Ridgard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Worlingham is a 1980s Suffolk village in which people lead unhappy lives: Walker spends all day walking in the neighbourhood, the Ling brothers farm and don't talk to each other, Elmy has a 'worm' in the head, and the Fairbrothers should never have moved there from Basingstoke. The narrator's mother becomes increasingly agoraphobic as the book wears on and her father witnesses an accident at a chicken factory in which a fellow worker loses his fingers. And that's before we start dealing with the central episode of the book, in which the teenage narrator discovers a dead baby in a ditch - and not just a baby but one without arms (as in children born after their mothers took thalidomide).

This story is told in a very distinctive tone of voice and it's highly memorable. I would strongly recommend it. My only reservation concerns the plot and the denouement. About this I would only say: it turns in part on an unusual weather event, an earth tremor in Suffolk that turns the characters' lives upside down. And also on a medical event that's surely almost inconceivable rare (at the time of thalidomide, I can remember reading somewhere, a painting of Goya was used as a representation of the condition, so rare was it before the drug came into use). That is a minor complaint, however - this is really well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding debut novel 8 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
A wonderful novel set in rural Suffolk during the eighties. Beautifully written; I was grasped from the first page and absolutely loved the book . It has laugh aloud moments , poignant events and a mystical quality too . Unlike many books set in a rural community it never becomes twee and parochial ,infact it's raw and honest with a huge range of characters, each with their own stories .
It is a great portrayal of teenage life & angst in a country community during the 1980s , of marriages , airbases , and family secrets .
I would love to read more by Sarah Ridgard in the future .
A highly recommended read .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Rural Suffolk in a nutshell
Sarah Ridgard's book combines a cleverly observed commentary on rural Suffolk life of the time with an intriguing and thought provoking mystery. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Edwin J Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and atmospheric!
A dark,beautifully written story with a deep sense of place. Quietly dramatic, it has a real understanding of rural life, both past and present. Highly recommended. More,please....
Published 1 month ago by George String
5.0 out of 5 stars Goats and Ghosts
In a remote Suffolk cottage in the 1980s, Desiree grows up intimately connected to her environment, family and neighbours. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr Blue Sky
2.0 out of 5 stars Seldom Seen
Sorry, but I didn't understand or take to this book. I couldn't blend into the story and so I grew bored and struggled through it until the end. Shame, really.
Published 6 months ago by Cas Allas Mazda
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual book
Very real and well developed characters.
Enjoyed it-quite different.
Most people would identify with some of the characters.
Give a try
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. H. N. Beaton
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex weave of country life
A beautify observed portrait of how country life builds tale on tale. It cuts through the bucolic myth of country living to expose the raw under currents of real live among the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mark Thackstone
3.0 out of 5 stars Sugar beet
Desiree is a bored teenager living in a dead end village in Suffolk. She spends her days wandering around, snooping on the neighbours. Read more
Published 9 months ago by MisterHobgoblin
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird story
Very odd book as the story line is very different. Mainly about a girl who creeps around ditches spying on people.
Published 10 months ago by Mrs PL Gyte
5.0 out of 5 stars Seldom seen
Oh my goodness ! You have got to love a book where the children are named after potatoes ! The characters are fabulous and I didn't see the ending coming. A great summer read.
Published 13 months ago by Mary
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut
Desiree (named after the potato) finds the tiny body of a baby wrapped in newspaper in a ditch in the early 1980s. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Bakey
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