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The Colour Of Milk by Nell Leyshon

The Colour Of Milk

by Nell Leyshon

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2471971,966 (4.03)11
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.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel (caflores)
    caflores: No tienen nada que ver ni la época ni el argumento, pero sí la granja, la miseria y el descubrimiento de la verdad.

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» See also 11 mentions

English (14)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  German (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Well, this was a bleak little read. It is so frustrating knowing that for centuries, men have used their physical strength and standing in society to do anything they want to young, uneducated girls without fear of punishment. Yet, when the girl finally retaliates in desperation, she is severely penalised.

I felt so sorry for the way Mary was used by the local vicar. She was a great character - outspoken, free-thinking, spirited and keen to learn. "The Colour of Milk" was her journal spanning the year when she went to work for the vicar and his wife as a housemaid. At first it was difficult to read as there was little punctuation, but it was a touching, tragic little story. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Feb 23, 2019 |
Quick read. Good end. Twist. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jan 2, 2019 |
(Fiction, South African, Historical)

The Colour of Milk is told from the point of view of fifteen-year-old Mary who is asked to work in the home of the village minister. She’s a pretty girl with hair the colour of milk, and it is this that has attracted the man to her.

It’s a short book over which suspense steadily builds while the reader discerns what is coming.

4 stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Feb 8, 2018 |
there is much to tell for you need to know it all and then you will understand'
By sally tarbox on 9 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
A short - and quite simple - story, but one that i found totally compelling. Narrated by Mary, one of the four daughters of a poor 1830s farming family, her life is hard, with a violent father. Her much-loved grandfather is disabled, waiting to die....
The other characters live at the vicarage up the road - Mr Graham, his invalid wife, and his promiscuous son Ralph...

I read it in one sitting and was enthralled by the childish writing of the only-just-literate Mary which draws you into her narrative. The only fault I found was that Mary's believability was somewhat hampered by her tendency to address her betters in the blunt manner of a 21st century teenager with attitude, which I think implausible for one of her class and upbringing. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
Fantastic voice telling a story you know cannot end well, yet when the inevitable occurs, it destroys you.
Went to La Central presentation because Inga translated it xxx ( )
  KymmAC | May 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
The Colour of Milk is written in short sentences, with longer passages joined by lots of ‘ands’. It appears to have the simplicity of a reading scheme. Which is precisely the point. Because this is a story about literacy – or the achieving of literacy. For Mary, the book’s narrator, the cost of gaining that knowledge is high.

Leyshon’s great skill in this novel is to convey both Mary’s outward personality and her inner thoughts through the same narrative voice. In Mary’s own concise reporting of events we see all her relationships in their nuanced colours.

The Colour of Milk starts deceptively quietly, describing a life of rural hardships and limited prospects, but bit by bit, letter by letter, it reveals a world of potential that is shattered by human fallibility.
The year is 1830. Fifteen-year-old Mary lives a life of toil and cheerlessness on her father's farm. Outspoken, witty and bold, she has one bad leg and white hair "the colour of milk", a phrase used as a refrain throughout, along with: "this is my book and I am writing it by my own hand."

Through the hardness, Leyshon evokes nature and the seasons with a poetic sensibility. This is where all the feeling is. The language has a biblical tinge, with many short passages and sentences beginning with "and" (there are hardly any capitals in the book). A constant flow of seasonal activity and reference to the natural world gives a bucolic flavour: "and in the morning and evening the mist layered and made the hills soft and the air thick"; "and Edna filled the kitchen with jars and pans and we were busy with the fruit and getting it into the jars, and harry dug up all the beetroot and carrots and onions and brought it to the back door and we laid it down in sandboxes and put it in the cold store and then we put the apples in the dark. and he sacked up the potatoes and we made sure the bags was tied and the light could not get in."
added by kidzdoc | editThe Guardian, Carol Birch (Jun 15, 2012)
"This is my book," writes a pale-haired farm girl in 1831, "every word i spelled out. every letter i wrote." Fourth daughter to a father who wanted sons, Mary is sent away from the drudgery of her family's farm to nurse the local vicar's weak-hearted wife. In the genteel, sun-filled rooms of the vicarage she learns to write, but it is there, too, that events take place that compel her to undertake her painstaking task.

Leyshon is a master of domestic suspense and the reasons for Mary's determination emerge tantalisingly slowly. A cannier cousin to Hardy's Tess – truculent and possessed of a sly wit – Mary is nevertheless in an invidious position: betrayed by weak-willed masters and, though gifted the means to tell her story, powerless to negotiate the cost at which her knowledge comes.

This is a deftly executed sketch of a lost geography: a story saved by an accident of fate that becomes part of the piercing irony at its heart. Slender but compelling, the charm of Leyshon's novella is to be found as much in its spare, evocative style as in the moving candour of its narrator.
added by kidzdoc | editThe Observer, Lettie Ransley (Jun 2, 2012)
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this is my book and i am writing it by my own hand.
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This is the tale of Mary, a simple farm girl, sent to care for the vicar's invalid wife but who discovers wonders in words - and terrors in life.
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