The Colour of Milk: A Novel
  • The Colour of Milk: A Novel
  • The Colour of Milk: A Novel

The Colour of Milk: A Novel

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by Nell Leyshon
     
 

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The Colour of Milk is a literary tour de force of power, class, and fate, told in the fierce, urgent voice of the irrepressible Mary, a character as indelible as The Color Purple’s Celie and Margaret Atwood’s eponymous Alias Grace.

Set in England in 1830, The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon is an emotionally haunting work of

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Overview

The Colour of Milk is a literary tour de force of power, class, and fate, told in the fierce, urgent voice of the irrepressible Mary, a character as indelible as The Color Purple’s Celie and Margaret Atwood’s eponymous Alias Grace.

Set in England in 1830, The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon is an emotionally haunting work of historical fiction — hailed as “charming, Brontë-esque...and hard to forget” (Marian Keyes) — about an illiterate farm girl’s emotional and intellectual awakening and its devastating consequences.

Mary, the spirited youngest daughter of an angry, violent man, is sent to work for the local vicar and his invalid wife. Her strange new surroundings offer unsettling challenges, including the vicar’s lecherous son and a manipulative fellow servant. But life in the vicarage also offers unexpected joys, as the curious young girl learns to read and write — knowledge that will come at a tragic price.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mary, the 15-year-old narrator of Leyshon’s new novel (after Bedlam), is a young English farm girl with more promise than prospects. The year is 1831 and her family—parents, three older sisters, and grandfather—beats down any spirit or ambition Mary might show. In spite of this, she learns to read and write, taking more pleasure and pride in her skills than in her farm work. When the vicar’s housemaid leaves, Mary’s father accepts payment to send Mary to tend to the vicar’s ailing wife, largely because Mary “ain’t exactly doing the work of a man down here.” As she tells her own story, Mary reveals herself as a pawn in the hands of the powerful. That she has chosen to set down this tale is her one daring act. The stylized language—biblical, colloquial, minimal—and restrained emotion save the story from soap opera melodrama, but also distance readers from Mary’s brief bursts of happiness—with her grandfather and the family cow—as well as from her growing distresses. We see the tragic price she pays for wanting more through the wrong end of a telescope; it is terrible, but too far off to be truly devastating. (Jan.)
Booklist
“Compelling. . . . Leyshon brings her narrator brilliantly to life. . . . Mary draws the reader in from the opening pages. Here is a headstrong, forthright, optimistic character determined to survive her wretched circumstances in a literary jewel crafted by an accomplished writer.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Resonant, heartbreaking. . . . The Colour of Milk is a truly wonderful read—a slender, beautiful novel with as much heart as a book twice its size.”
The Atlantic
“The unflinching, observant, and thoroughly persuasive voice of the narrator, a shrewd, illiterate farm girl, makes this slim novel striking.”
Kathleen Grissom
“Nell Leyshon has beautifully captured a voice that haunts, long after the last word has been read. Brava!”
Penelope Lively
“A wonderfully convincing voice and a devastating story told with great skill & economy. . . . A small tour de force”
Marian Keyes
“A wonderfully convincing voice and a devastating story told with great skill & economy. . . . A small tour de force”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062245823
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/26/2012
Pages:
171
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Kathleen Grissom
“Nell Leyshon has beautifully captured a voice that haunts, long after the last word has been read. Brava!”
Penelope Lively
“A wonderfully convincing voice and a devastating story told with great skill & economy. . . . A small tour de force”
Marian Keyes
“A wonderfully convincing voice and a devastating story told with great skill & economy. . . . A small tour de force”

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