The Colour of Milk – Nell Leyshon

The Colour of Milk


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My Rating – 5 Stars

Looks can be deceiving – The Colour of Milk looks like a dainty little thing, measuring just 15cm x 10cm and at 176 pages, more novella than novel but behind that delicate exterior lurks a powerful story with a strong female protagonist.

It is 1851 and this  is the story of 15 year old Mary, the youngest of four daughters in a farming family where a son would have been more highly prized.  Mary tells it as it is and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.  She tells her story over four seasons and over the course of the year 1851 there are big changes in her life.  Viewed as the runt of the litter by her brutal father, he sees some way to make use of her by hiring her out to the local vicar and his wife.   Perhaps this will be a form of escape for Mary but she misses her home, especially her grandfather.  There is some compensation as she eventually achieves her ambition, to be able to read and write but at what cost?

I warmed to Mary from her opening words -

this is my book and i am writing it by my own hand.

She’ll tell her story as she sees fit, in her own time and in her own barely literate style – don’t expect any airs and graces with this girl!  Her voice is so natural, so true and you can’t help but be engrossed in her tale.  She doesn’t set out to charm or flatter the reader but the bare, direct style of her narration makes her irresistible.  Her love for her grandfather shines through despite the lack of terms of endearment.

Mary, with her hair “the colour of milk”, is intent on lingering in my imagination – a sure sign of a good read.

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  1. This sounds great, that first sentence would definitely hook me in. It’s gone on my wishlist :)

  2. I loved this book so it is great to see that you awarded it 5 stars. The vivid writing is lingering in my mind still and I’m sure it will continue to do so.

  3. Teresa says:

    Sam, I think you’ll love it.

    Jackie, it really is an object of beauty – I can see lots of folk getting this in their Christmas stocking from me this year!

  4. Marie says:

    This is not the sort of thing I’d usually pick up but having seen so many glowing reviews I probably will do, especially as it’s so short! It sounds like a very powerful story.

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