Seldom Seen Paperback – 6 Jun 2013
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"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)
"Death and mayhem in sleepy rural Suffolk . . . Ridgard’s evocation of landscape, of farming, its seasons, cruelties and epiphanies, is striking." (Guardian)
"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)
SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUTHORS' CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2013
LONGLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2013 AND THE 2013 NEW ANGLE PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
A mesmerising debut set in Suffolk in the 1980s - the story of a young girl's awakening to the cruelty of the world
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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 .
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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Most recent customer reviews
Enjoyed it-quite different.
Most people would identify with some of the characters.
Give a try