A classic novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of The Orchard on Fire.
The transition of Coral Fairweather from village beauty to village outcast begins in the short golden days of autumn with the fathering of her first child by a vagrant painter. Soon, fuelled by the suspicion and gossip of those who see, in Coral's hand-to-mouth existence and crumbling cottage, a rejection of all that is respectable, rather than the fierce pride that prevents her from seeking help from the Authorities or from the man who would love her. Spurred on by a malicious widow, the Parish Council agree to purge their neat village of this 'pariah' and her children. This bitter witch hunt speeds towards a terrifying climax in a distinctive novel enriched by crystalline images of the natural world.
Shena Mackay was born in Edinburgh in 1944. Her writing career began when she won a prize for a poem written when she was fourteen. Two novellas, Dust Falls on Eugene Schlumberger and Toddler on the Run were published before she was twenty. Redhill Rococo won the 1987 Fawcett Prize, Dunedin won a 1994 Scottish Arts Council Book Award, The Orchard on Fire was shortlisted for the 1996 Booker Prize and, in 2003, Heligoland was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and Whitbread Novel Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Southampton.