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The Colour of Milk [Kindle Edition]

Nell Leyshon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The Colour of Milk is the new novel by Orange longlisted author and playwright Nell Leyshon.



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



The year is eighteen hundred and thirty one when fifteen-year-old Mary begins the difficult task of telling her story. A scrap of a thing with a sharp tongue and hair the colour of milk, Mary leads a harsh life working on her father's farm alongside her three sisters. In the summer she is sent to work for the local vicar's invalid wife, where the reasons why she must record the truth of what happens to her - and the need to record it so urgently - are gradually revealed.



'Haunting, distinctive voices... Mary's spare simple words paint brilliant pictures in the reader's mind . . . Nell Leyshon's imaginative powers are considerable' Independent



'Brontë-esque undertones . . . a disturbing statement on the social constraints faced by 19th-century women' FT



'A small tour de force - a wonderfully convincing voice, and a devastating story told with great skill and economy' Penelope Lively



'I loved it. The Colour of Milk is charming, Brontë-esque, compelling, special and hard to forget. I loved Mary's voice - so inspiring and likeable. Such a hopeful book' Marian Keyes



'Brilliant, devastating and unforgettable' Easy Living



Nell Leyshon's first novel, Black Dirt, was longlisted for the Orange Prize, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize. Her plays include Comfort me with Apples, which won an Evening Standard Award, and Bedlam, which was the first play written by a woman for Shakespeare's Globe. She writes for BBC Radio 3 and 4, and won the Richard Imison Award for her first radio play. Nell was born in Glastonbury and lives in Dorset.



Product Description

Review

Shocking and haunting. Read it, in one sitting (Spectator)

Charming, Brontë-esque, compelling, special and hard to forget. I loved it (Marian Keyes)

A small tour de force - a wonderfully convincing voice, and a devastating story told with great skill (Penelope Lively)

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 (Daily Telegraph)

Astounding . . . one of the most compelling narrators I've ever encountered (Stylist)

It is once in a blue moon that an author creates a voice quite as alive and as startling as Mary's. Leyshon deserves to be showered with awards (Sunday Express)

Brilliant, devastating and unforgettable (Easy Living)

Spare and beautifully crafted, compelling. Like a love letter to the power of words (Marie Claire)

An astounding read. Like the best bits of Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles . . . Mary is one of the most compelling narrators I've ever encountered . . . packs a powerful punch . . . a very British gem (Stylist)

I loved it. Charming, Brontë-esque, compelling, special and hard to forget. I loved Mary's voice - so inspiring and likeable. Such a hopeful book (Marian Keyes)

Haunting, distinctive voices. Mary's spare simple words paint brilliant pictures in the reader's mind. Leyshon's imaginative powers are considerable (Independent)

Leyshon is a master of domestic suspense . . . Slender but compelling, the charm is to be found as much in its spare, evocative style as in the moving candour of its narrator (Observer)

About the Author

Nell Leyshon's first novel, Black Dirt, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize. Her plays include Comfort me with Apples, which won an Evening Standard Award, and Bedlam, which was the first play written by a woman for Shakespeare's Globe. She writes for BBC Radio 3 and 4, and won the Richard Imison Award for her first radio play. Nell was born in Glastonbury and lives in Dorset.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 805 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0241959543
  • Publisher: Penguin (31 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007TB5OJU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,062 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"this is my book and I am writing it by my own hand."

Mary is one of four sisters, working on the family farm, her father harsh and unloving, her mother bowed to the inevitable, and her grandfather the only one with humour and love in him for her, and she for him. And then she is sent away to care for the vicar's wife. Mary's story of 1831, the year of her life when all changed is brief, not even 200 pages, and is given to the reader in the form of her own narrative, written in an uncultured and unlearned way, but true to the soul she carries with her and to the voice she finds within herself.

"I am not very tall and my hair is the colour of milk."

This is a lovely yet poignantly sad book, one which must have been echoed for centuries by girls all over England and Europe. Once read, never forgotten. This is the story of one young girl whose story deserved to be told. Totally recommended.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Short but a Worthwhile Read 22 May 2012
By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a tiny book which not only is a mere 170 pages or thereabouts but also measures only some six inches by four inches. I read through it in a couple of hours as many will. However, for all that it was an original and well thought out tale written in her own words in 1831 by Mary.

Mary is from an extremely humble background. Her family are farmers, and at the age of 14 Mary works from dawn to dusk under the rather tyrannical direction of her father , as do her three sisters. She has never been educated, has one set of clothing and shares a bed with one of her sisters. However, when her father comes to an arrangement with the local vicar for Mary to help with looking after his ailing wife, Mary is initially reluctant as this job is so far removed from what she is used to.

Despite the disadvantages of her birth, Mary is a very feisty young lady, who speaks her own mind and, as she says herself, is incapable of lying. When there is a possibility of learning to read and write she is extremely enthusiastic. However, eventually she feels obliged to use her newly obtained skills to write her story and explain what has happened and how she has found herself in her current situation. As it is written in her words, there is very little in the way of punctuation, apart from splitting the story into sentences and paragraphs. That apart there are no capital letters, commas etc. However, this adds to the atmosphere and does not make the narrative at all difficult to read.

This is a very unusual book, but the presentation works well and Mary herself is an interesting and appealing character. Short it may be, but it is nonetheless a worthwhile read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Fantastic! 2 Feb. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This small, simply-written book is a joy to read, despite its depressing themes. I laughed my way through much of it; the protagonist's feisty attitude and hilarious verbal responses were just wonderful.

I also loved the way the book was written as if by a girl who's only recently learned to read and write; it made the character that much more believable and endearing. I've seen claims online that writing like this is a stylistic cheat but it certainly worked for me.

I only wish the book had been slightly longer, as I finished it in two short sittings and couldn't get into anything else that night after such a treat. But for an author to leave a reader wanting more shows considerable talent.

If you like this you'll probably like Snake Ropes, Cassandra at the Wedding, Florence & Giles, and Small Hours.

4.5 Stars- Highly Recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real find 22 Mar. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this on the recommendation of a friend and after reading some reviews. I loved the precision of the writing, and the voice of the central character is both vivid and true. It's a great challenge to assume the voice of a young girl who is just about literate and who is totally uneducated. I'm looking forward to reading more of this new writer's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mary is fourteen years old when her story begins in 1830; she is one of four sisters who live on a farm with their brutal father and their over-worked mother. Mary has, she tells us, hair the colour of milk and, we learn from her narrative, she would be pretty if it were not for her deformed leg. At the outset of her story, we learn that Mary makes the best of her hard life; she works on the farm, toiling in the fields, milking the cows, helping her mother with the housework and the cheese-making, and she enjoys spending time with her bedridden grandfather, who is a much kinder and more understanding man than Mary's father.

When the local vicar's wife becomes ill and additional help is needed at the vicarage, Mary's father arranges for her to live and work at the vicarage until she is no longer needed. Although Mary has no wish to leave the farm, she knows it is useless arguing with her father, who will only answer with physical violence, so she makes the best of the situation and, although she suffers from homesickness and misses her grandfather, she gets on with her lot in life at the vicarage. Fortunately the vicar takes a liking to Mary and her honest outspokeness, as does his ailing wife, and when the vicar decides he will teach Mary to read and write, Mary begins to realise that if she wants to become literate, she will need to stay at the vicarage for longer than she initially thought. But then something shocking happens which changes everything for everyone involved, and it is here that the reader learns of the very high price that Mary must pay for her education - but I shall leave the details for prospective readers to discover.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Novella.
I had a surprise morning off this morning, and sat in the spring sunshine with my coffee going cold while I read this novella from cover to cover. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
simple and well written. Predictable ending but enjoyable all the same.
Published 1 month ago by helen
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting and haunting.
Life dealt Mary a pretty unfortunate hand right from the start. But she was bright and loving and knew right from wrong. She could have made something of her life. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hazeydaze
5.0 out of 5 stars well written - I'd recommend.
Moving, well written - I'd recommend.
Published 2 months ago by Marian Pallister
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent-beautifully yet sensitively written
Published 3 months ago by SARAH CHAMBERS
3.0 out of 5 stars Short. Interesting
A short read. Interesting description if the 1830s. Said but I am sure quite common of those times. I. Could certainly feel the cold!!!
Published 3 months ago by ais the lash
5.0 out of 5 stars A shocking good read
A book that keeps you picking it up and reading it. The "Story" is very good compelling read. Enjoy
Published 6 months ago by Mbwest
5.0 out of 5 stars something different
I loved the style of writing, you really got to know each character. I was constantly curious to know how this book was going to end. Read more
Published 9 months ago by helen Wilcox
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple tale
A very sad and simple tale which was easy to read and very believable. It was recommended by someone at my readers' group otherwise I don't think I would have discovered it.
Published 11 months ago by Nurseryboss
5.0 out of 5 stars moving
This was a great book, beautifully written in the narrators voice. well worth an indulgent read, expect to shed tears if you have a heart
Published 11 months ago by Claire Sayer
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