The Price of Bread

“The Price of Bread” is a powerful novel of the era of young free love and its problems in a conflicted society. It’s the winter of 1970 and Northern Ireland is smouldering with the unresolved hostilities of its ancient sectarian tribes, with Belfast a hotbed for trouble. In the heart of the city, Lee and her partner and friends ignore sectarian labels, and Lee still trusts in her hippy mantra ‘all you need is love’  but the streets are increasingly dangerous, especially with two young children and more immediate challenges like how to beat the cold and the rising price of bread. When threats are scrawled on their back wall, and as sandbags and barricades block the streets, ‘love’ is becoming a precious and elusive commodity…

"I absolutely loved this book, a story of Lee’s quest to live by the values she holds dear – the power of love and the freedom to love freely – in the increasingly frightening and frightened communities of Belfast at the birth of the Troubles. Lee is so appealing – trusting, determined, and caring of her two very small boys – and one fears for her as the violence and division on the streets creeps ever closer. The ending is haunting and excellently sad." - Berenice, amazon reader


"I’ve just finished The Price of Bread. I feel as if I’ve been sent to Northern Ireland in a time machine. The scene is set so well: the poverty, the smells, the ever-present cloud of danger. Along with this, the understanding that people are never quite what they seem, that each individual has his or her own personal narrative. And, best of all, there’s a great affirmative ending. Lovely work. Can we have a sequel please?” - Debby Holt, novelist


"Gripping sociopolitics" - Claire Crowther, poet


"Many congratulations, it’s beautifully written and recreates the atmosphere and angst of those times very well. I was surprised by the ending though I don’t know what I was expecting" -   Helen Crump, English teacher & friend

"The Price of Bread, is set in Belfast in 1970, makes for a great insight into life for a young hippy-leaning family believing in love regardless of culture and religion, but having to face daily compromises about where they go and what they do. “The Troubles” form a backdrop which permeates everything, and contrasts a sense of real danger with an exploration of what love might mean outside the traditional family set-ups found on both sides of the divide.
      Lee, a young mother, is English, and lives with her student husband Bruno and their two little boys in a bitterly cold apartment above a newsagent’s shop. She finds herself considering such problems as whether the letterbox is large enough for a letter-bomb, and whether leaving the awkward fire-escape locked or unlocked is safer if trouble is around. The price of bread is rising, and she makes clothes out of fabric remnants, but she is generally uncomplaining and looks for joy in friendships and experiments with free love, with unsettling results.
      Lee’s story is told without sentimentality - quite matter-of-fact in places - which sharpens the daily reality of living in a violent city and trying to get on with life. Crysse really knows what she is writing about – she was there! Anyone who wants some insight into this, who remembers 1970, who wants to get a feel of how things were in Belfast, or simply wants a really good read should hurry down their bookshop. Strongly recommended!"
 - Suzy Howlett, writer, broadcaster & reviewer  

“This powerful evocation of a fractured and dystopian society, viewed from fifty years’ distance, may be read as history - an insider’s chilling recollection of a conflict which most people not directly involved failed to understand, and saw unfold with incredulity. But it can also be read as a warning to be heeded: the anger and hatred, suppressed for decades, never went away. It could, and quite possibly will, return - it may even now be reigniting. This remarkable novel, written by an author recalling her first-hand experience, could not be more timely” - John Chandler, publisher. 


"I have been reading page by absorbing page since I got it. I had to read the  first chapter again immediately after the last chapter - and then the last chapter again. Lee reminds me of what Jane Austen says of Emma. And Lee's cherishing of her children runs like a silver thread from start to finish." - poet & friend


"It got a hold on me... you are a very talented writer." - Pete Gage, musician


"Really enjoying your new novel Crysse. Trying to eke it out, like a favourite bar of chocolate. Captures the sights and sounds of early 70's 'BellFaaast!'" - John McKenna - writer