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.
As years go by and everyone else moves on with their lives, Desiree feels stuck, unable to forget what she saw that day. But when she starts to make connections which bring the truth dangerously close to home, it seems that some secrets are best left alone.
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.
Death and mayhem in sleepy rural Suffolk . . . Ridgard’s evocation of landscape, of farming, its seasons, cruelties and epiphanies, is striking.
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.