The Largest Baby in Ireland After The Famine by Anne Barnett. Winner of the Kerry Group Award, Best in Irish Fiction

Every Sunday the men met at the bridge. Felix Campbell was there with a couple of dozen men. They were all shapes and sizes, ages and wits. What they shared was history, what they knew was their place. Farmers all, some creating the impression that they lived a more urgent and passionate existence in the fighting fields of France than in the potato fields of reality.

Felix was smoking and talking when the bridge-gatherers spotted a figure moving over the brae. The walker was a woman, most certainly, but who? Women’s strict observance of the day of rest left little time for gallivanting. And where could a stranger be heading when there was nowhere she could go that the men wouldn’t have known about? Then the woman appeared. She was all colour and sway, and as far away as imaginable from the local women. Pale, pale skin and strong dark auburn hair falling free to large wide hips. She wore a purple shawl.

That night Felix, a bachelor, aged 43, living in the house he was born in, dreamt of purple. Purple in the shape of a woman.