The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon
The Colour of Milk is Nell Leyshon’s latest novella, published by Penguin Books. Set between 1830 and 1831, it tells the tale of Mary, a simple yet outspoken teenage farm girl. From the moment she wakes to the moment she gets into bed at night, her father works her like a slave. Beaten when thought to be slacking and at best wholly ignored, her life is filled with little joy.
One day her father tells her she will be leaving the life she knows, to stay with Mr Graham, the local vicar, who needs help caring for his ill wife. Her father will be paid her wages, and the choice is out of her hands. She packs and leaves for her new life the next morning.
Although she craves her old life back at the farm, she cooks, cleans, washes and cares for an ailing employer. When she passes, everything changes. Soon Mr Graham discovers Mary’s passion for learning to read and write, leading her story to take a dark turn.
This moving story starts quite slowly and written simply to represent Mary’s lack of education. The writing style improves to highlight her growth throughout the tale. After a while, you warm to Mary’s brutal honesty, as do other characters in the book, and this makes the actions of Mr Graham even more upsetting. The story peaks in the last fifty pages and will have you gripped to this heroine’s heartbreaking struggle to better herself and find her freedom.
If you enjoyed The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon, you’ll love Resin by Ane Riel.
Buy The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon