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.
Author photo © Anita Schiffer-Fuchs, Cologne
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.
Mein Name ist Mary. Mein Haar hat die Farbe von Milch. Und dies ist meine Geschichte. Mary ist harte Arbeit gewohnt. Sie kennt es nicht anders, denn ihr Leben auf dem Bauernhof der Eltern verlauft karg und entbehrungsreich. Doch dann andert sich alles. Als sie funfzehn wird, zieht Mary in den Haushalt des ortlichen Dorfpfarrers, um dessen Ehefrau zu pflegen und ihr Gesellschaft zu leisten - einer zarten, mitfuhlenden Kranken. Bei ihr erfahrt sie erstmals Wohlwollen und Anteilnahme. Mary eroffnet sich eine neue Welt. In ihrer einfachen, unverblumten Sprache erzahlt sie, wie ihr Schicksal eine dramatische Wendung nimmt, als die Pfarrersfrau stirbt und sie plotzlich mit dem Hausherrn alleine zuruckbleibt. "e;Eine unverwechselbare, unvergessliche Erzhlstimme ... Marys einfache Worte malen eindringliche Bilder in den Kopf des Lesers ... Nell Leyshons Einfhlungsvermgen ist beeindruckend."e; The Independent Mit Brontesken Untertnen . . . ein verstrender Kommentar zu den sozialen Zwngen, denen Frauen im 19. Jahrhundert unterworfen waren."e; Financial Times Eine kleine Tour de force - eine wundervolle, berzeugende Stimme, und eine erschtternde Geschichte, die mit groem Knnen und mit Sparsamkeit erzhlt ist."e; Penelope Lively Ich liebe dieses Buch. Verfhrerisch, Bront-esk, fesselnd, besonders und unvergesslich. Mary ist eine absolut interessante und liebenswerte Erzhlerin. Ein Buch voller Hoffnung."e; Marian Keyes Was scheinbar ruhig als ein einfaches lndliches Leben ohne groe Aussichten beginnt, entwickelt sich nach und nach, Buchstabe fr Buchstabe zu einem voller Mglichkeiten, das aber durch menschliche Fehlbarkeit zum Scheitern verurteilt ist."e; Daily Telegraph Nur alle Jubeljahre einmal erschafft ein Autor eine so lebendige und aufsehenerregende Erzhlstimme wie die Marys. Nell Leyshon verdient es, mit Preisen berschttet zu werden.
'A reading experience that hums with an electric energy that never gets boring and feels shockingly, painfully real.' - The Times 'There's different ways to do it: I can slowly move closer step by step, or I can do it in one movement and bump into them. Easiest is in a pub then I can put my drink too close to theirs. Move my stool near theirs. Anything to cross the line.' Gary is a dipper, a burglar, a thief. He is still at junior school when his father first takes him out on the rob, and proves a fast learner: not much more than a child the first time he gets caught, he is a career criminal as soon as he is out again. But Gary is also fiercely intelligent - he often knows more about the antique furniture he is stealing than the people who own it, and is confident in his ability to trick his way out of any situation, always one step ahead. But all that changes when he falls for Mandy...
You think you have everything. A happy marriage. Children you love. A job you enjoy. A house you've made into a home. Then, almost in the blink of an eye, you lose it. All. When Rachel decides things aren't working and asks Andrew to move out, she thinks she knows what she's doing; she thinks she knows how it will be, how Andrew will react, how the children will cope. After all, relationships end all the time, and everyone survives -- don't they? But Rachel is wrong, and her decision has consequences no one could have foreseen. 'A compelling study of a family cast adrift. Written with subtlety and sensitivity, this deceptively simple tale pulls the reader closer with each page' Catherine O'Flynn, author of What Was Lost 'Detailed and free-flowing; the shocking, emotional ending will leave you gasping for air' Easy Living
Written by 15-year old Mary in her dungeon awaiting the gallows in the 1830s, with a secret she cannot tell - this is an amazing book. Her country, semi-literate voice is highly compelling, forcing you to race through the slim (only 170 pages), highly eventful book which covers only one year. From rural hardship to caring for the vicar's invalid wife, Mary's life seems to blossom until the vicar imposes his charms! Mary is doomed and she knows it. She also know she could save herself but at too high a price. Written entirely in lower case which somehow adds power, this is a remarkable read. The Colour of Milk is the colour of Mary's hair, poor girl. A 'Piece of Passion' from Juliet Annan, Publisher Fig Tree/Penguin... 'The Colour of Milk is a dark, perfectly shaped little gem of a novel. Set in rural England in the 1830s, it is beautiful, disturbing and brutal – and it really packs a punch. It's told from the point of view and in the voice of an illiterate farm girl in 1830: Mary, the girl in question, is telling her own story and, what’s more, she is writing it down with her own hand. How it came about that she can read and write, and what price she had to pay to achieve this is very much at the core of the novel. I absolutely love this book: it is immensely powerful and Mary's voice is totally convincing and everyone who reads it is blown away by the sheer power and force and beauty of Nell's writing, and by Mary's dramatic story. The ending is wonderful, and shocking, but I won't give it away...'
Frank lies in bed, his dying dreams haunted by memories of one long-ago summer, the sticky heat of night, and the stories his father told about Christ, the red-breasted robin, and kings Arthur and Alfred. But other images also rise to the surface, unbidden and unwanted, and Frank finds himself forced to recall his older sister, Iris, whose existence - and terrible crime - he has spent long years struggling to forget.