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Milk Fever by Lissa M. Cowan
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Milk Fever

by Lissa M. Cowan

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The prose in Milk Fever is accessible and inviting; it does not mimic the narratives of 18th-century Europe. Rather, it welcomes contemporary readers into a story which does not feel more than two hundred years old. So, there is gobbling and devouring but without a wholly anachronistic tone.

In this sense, Lissa Cowan’s work reminds me of Mary Novik’s style in novels like Muse, which also considers the position of European women in times of great political and social change.

And the author’s decision to root the narration in the voice of a marginalized observer recalls works like Pauline Holdstock’s Into the Heart of the Country, affording a voice to one who rarely appears in the historical record.

The oppressed may have limited opportunities for resistance, but in the pages of Milk Fever the women are fervent in their desire for change, even while the public sphere is slow to follow. It is a pleasure to read such a quiet, revolutionary, woman-soaked story.

More details here, at BuriedInPrint.
  buriedinprint | Jun 24, 2014 |
Milk Fever by Lissa M Cowan starts with Céleste, a young girl meeting a peddler and I wondered if they were to meet again somewhere else. In France, 2 years later, she is with Armande, a wet nurse who enjoyed reading even when a baby was at her breast. Most wet nurses did not read. Armande’s time was coming to an end - the baby was being weaned off breast milk. Before Armande left ; she asked the Master if she could take Céleste with her. Thereon, Céleste learns how to read and write.

I really enjoyed reading the parts where Armande demonstrated her talents as people arrived at her door coming from long distances seeking her advice. Already, I saw the enchantress in her. Rumor was Armande’s baby had died. Yet, she went on helping mothers like Sophie to feed her baby.

When Isabelle walked in – her needs were a little different. She wanted to read and write since it would give her a chance to work. The story is a real page-turner finding Robert who counts stars and Sophie getting gravely ill.

There are more characters with vibrant unique voices. I enjoyed reading an entry in a diary as well, dated March 2, 1784. A must read. I wondered at times, if most women felt the same when they were pregnant and the man was away or not around.

Céleste is worried, concerned – where can Armande be? “Wisdom in the wrong hands can drain magic from those who possess it.” Oh boy! This is not what I wanted to read – what is going to happen now? It did read like a mystery – so how does it end? Wisdom is the clue. All in all, Lissa M Cowan produced a magnificent novel that I strongly recommend.

Adriana LG
  AdrianaG | Apr 10, 2014 |
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