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Spilt Milk, Black Coffee Paperback – 3 May 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (3 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408801078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408801079
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 843,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Helen Cross

Helen Cross was born and brought up in the village of Newbald in East Yorkshire. Her first novel, My Summer of Love won a Betty Trask Award and became a BAFTA award-winning feature film. Her short stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and her plays and stories have been broadcast on Radio 4. She has recently returned from working for the British Council as Writer in Residence at the University of Mumbai. Helen's second novel, The Secrets She Keeps is now available in paperback, and her third novel, Spilt Milk, Black Coffee was published by Bloomsbury in May 2010. She lives in Birmingham, England with her partner Andy and two daughters. She's just completed a fourth novel and film adaptation of Spilt Milk, Black Coffee for Rainy Day Films. More details at www.helencross.net

Product Description


Praise for The Secret She Keeps: 'There's a timeless feel to this tale of loneliness, greed and beauty. Cross writes beautifully' Daily Mail 'Cross has an ability to imbue the everyday world with sensuality and strangeness ... it has the raw energy and flashes of brilliance that show Helen Cross to be a writer to watch' Sunday Telegraph Praise for My Summer of Love: 'Evocative, ferocious, even visceral ... A hand-grenade of a novel ... a book of quite exceptional power' Daily Mail 'A sharp, disturbing and highly original debut novel' Sunday Mirror


`Helen `My Summer of Love' Cross is a fine writer with a spiky edge, a wry sense of humour and a sharp instinct for creating characters who are believably flawed' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. R. Cutler on 15 Jun. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I want to congratulate Helen Cross on being one of the few non Muslim authors to write about British Asians as if they were people- have, as George Eliot puts it an equivalent centre of self, of which their religion is a part, but a natural part to them, as Dorothea's Christianity is to her-you can see how much I liked it if it makes me think of Middlemarch! And she gives that same sense of self to another vilified tabloid creation-the single mother. Walk a mile in my moccasins the Native Americans say, and with Helen's help we walk in Amir's smart slip ons, Jackie's spike heels and Elle's trainers, and see the complex world beyond those tabloid headlines-funny, tender, touching- and brilliantly observed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Smurfy on 19 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Strong characterisation, clever writing, funny and believable dialogue - 'Spilt Milk, Black Coffee' has it all. In Jackie Jackson - a twice-divorced, self-confessed bad mother pushing forty but still acting like a teenager - Helen Cross has created a character who, despite (or perhaps because of) her flaws, will enthrall rather than appall. Anyone reading this novel is sure to become just as fascinated by Jackie as the other characters in the novel end unwillingly find themselves.

As is the fashion these days, the novel is written from multiple viewpoints, but in this case it's more than just a gimmick. Jackie herself never takes on narration duties, meaning the reader always sees her through the eyes of others; an important technique, as the various perceptions of Jackie are a key theme of the text. It's impossible not to warm to our two main narrators - Jackie's tomboy daughter Elle, who adores her mum while desperate to avoid turning into her, and Amir, obsessed by Jackie despite significant age and cultural differences between the two. Both characters are brilliantly written, but Cross's portrayal of Elle - an adult before her time, yet heartbreakingly childlike underneath - is particularly poignant. Although Elle and Amir's paths only really cross once until the end of the novel, it's a pivotal moment, and their differing perceptions of the incident sets up much of the action.

If you're looking for a novel with fast-paced action and a big finale, 'Spilt Milk, Black Coffee' probably isn't for you; the plot on its own is fairly slow, although the strength of the characterisation and scene-setting makes this almost irrelevant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rosie Ross on 22 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book as it was so very different from my usual choice (though I had been looking out for it since Cross's last one, The Secrets She Keeps) : I think this book takes an admirable risk and tells it like it probably is. When I curled up with the book, I didn't seem like I'd stayed put, on my own settee! It drew me in with its story, made me laugh sometimes and had my heart racing with a fast-paced concluding section.

Helen Cross's ear for language made reading the book seem almost like listening to a gripping radio play. She is a writer I am pleased I watched out for.

Rosie Ross
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Sussex Scribe on 21 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
I generally don't like rom com books - often advertised as "wickedly funny" but tending to be cliched and predictable. But Helen Cross has been very brave in attempting a male British Muslim POV which seems authentic but not being of Bangladeshi origin myself I find it hard to judge. However, I did find that Amir's vernacular vocabulary tended to repeat itself quite a lot. The Elle (12 year old girl) POV seemed a bit disjointed - the relationship with her mother seemed all over the place but this is probably right for that age.
The novel is one massive flashback from the steps of the registry office and it is sometimes hard to follow the time jumps. However I liked the sense of place and the descriptions of the family reunions and life in urban multicultural Britain. The plot isn't complex - basically a will he/she won't he/she dilemma but it has reasonable pace.
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