Friday, August 16, 2013

The Colour of Milk -- Nell Leyshon

This novella caught my attention months ago, at which time I brought it home and promptly misplaced it. It wasn't hard to do since the thing is less than 200 pages thick, and then I kind of forgot I was even supposed to be looking for it, but BINGO, I picked up a stack of magazines one afternoon on one of my declutter rampages, and there it was.

And then I couldn't remember why I wanted to read it, so I put it aside, albeit in a more conspicuous place than under back issues of Real Simple magazine. Ha! Real Simple. That title used to be descriptive of the recipes and DIY projects inside, but now only makes me think the title is meant to mock me.

Then it happened that I finished two really, really good books in pretty close succession and I didn't have anything else handy to read, and I figured, hey -- even if it's horrible, it's less than 200 pages, so there you are.

Even so, I have a list of Surly rules about reading and here is one of them: I never make myself finish a book if I am just not into it for the same reason I don't make myself eat the whole piece of candy from a box of chocolates, if after I bite into it I discover that there is coconut in the middle. I mean, c'mon. Why do they do that?  I know there are coconut lovers out there. Y'all just need your own boxes of chocolate candies.

 The Colour of Milk

The Colour of Milk, set in 1830-1831, is narrated by 15-year old English farm girl Mary, who has been sent by her brutish father to live with the vicar and his ailing wife. She is the youngest of four daughters, and lame, possessed of disarming honesty and a simple (but never stupid) view of the world. From the very beginning we understand that there is urgency in Mary's need to get this journal written and shared. It bears the hallmarks of one who is newly literate, but I found that it didn't take long to fall under her spell, regardless of the stilted language and spotty punctuation. Although the denouement was somewhat predictable it had Your Surly Bookseller's heart racing, and left me humbled by the power of Mary's story and Leyshon's writing.

My bottom line: Stunning.


  1. I remember hearing about this book a while back. Hmmm, vaguely. My memory is AWFUL so I don't remember where are when. I obviously forgot about it almost immediately. Thanks for the reminder though because it sounds fab.