Hot Milk Paperback – 1 Jun 2017
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Unsettling, challenging and gloriously written, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy is the multi-generational story of a hallucinatory sort of summer (Juliet Nicolson, Evening Standard)
Leaves the reader enraptured and unnerved (Jackie Annesley, Evening Standard)
Publisher's description. Shortlisted for the Man Booker and Goldsmiths prizes, a hypnotic tale of female sexuality and power under the scorching midday sun. Sofia and her mother arrive on the Spanish coast looking for answers - what they find there will be strange, seductive and fearsome beyond their wildest dreams. (Penguin)
From the Inside Flap
Sofia and her mother, Rose, arrive on the Spanish coast seeking help. Rose is the victim of a biological conspiracy: her legs have stopped working and no one can tell her why. Both women are desperate for the truth - but awaiting them in Almeria are many more questions than answers.
Almeria is a place caught between the desert and the deep blue sea. It is a place of shifting mirages and ghostly jellyfish floating in the evening tide, watched over by the famous Dr Gomez and his glamorous assistant, Nurse Sunshine. Simmering with hope and longing, Sofia has come seeking solutions, but the answers she finds are always to questions she had not thought to ask.
Under the unblinking glare of the desert sun, mother and daughter strain at the ragged boundaries of their relationship, testing the bonds of kinship to breaking point. Intoxicating and compulsively readable, Hot Milk unspools a hypnotic tale of female rage and sexuality, of myths and timeless monsters.
'Astute, poetic and wise, Hot Milk confirms Deborah Levy's reputation as a master of the contemporary psychological novel' Darian Leader
A HAMISH HAMILTON BOOK--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product description
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In “Hot Milk”, a mother-daughter pair, Rose and Sofia have come to Almeria in Southern Spain to seek treatment for mother Rose’s mysterious affliction that causes her to (wilfully, Sofia suspects) lose the ability to walk. A hint of their symbiotic and bullying relationship surfaces early on in the novel and is brought to realization towards the end when Sofia confesses: “I have been waiting on her all my life. I was the waitress…. Waiting for her to step into her self or step out of her invalid self. Waiting for her to take the voyage out of her gloom, to buy a ticket to a vital life. With an extra ticket for me”. Sofia’s sense of abandonment is palpable in these lines, and also when she visits her estranged father midway through the trip in Spain.
Sofia drifts in and out of her own narrative, observed sporadically by a voyeuristic commentator, which is reflective of how she deals with her various relationships at the summer beach home and back in the States where she works as a barista, having abandoned her PhD in anthropology. Her detached manner as if she were an observer rather than a participant in her life gets annoying after awhile as she seems unable to take control it instead allows herself to be involved sexually with random people like the student first aider Juan who helps her with her stings from the jellyfish they call medusas when she swims, as well as Ingrid, the free spirit who shares such similar traits as the enigmatic Kitty Finch from “Swimming Home” that it looked at first glance as if Levy was consciously crossing her storyverses, except that she wasn't, which makes it seem more like she was merely recycling her characters.
The prose in the novel is enjoyable but I found that the fluid manner of storytelling that worked well in “Swimming Home” did not come through in this novel. Instead the stream of consciousness and haphazard episodes and random turns of the plot suggested ideas that flowed from an inebriated frame of mind rather than purposeful writing.
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