join us on facebook desmond elliott 2017
Search our site
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber Read the opening extract of the brand new Kathleen Barber book before its publication on 27/12/2017

The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon

The Colour of Milk

Historical Fiction   Literary Fiction   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   
Download an extract Discuss on Facebook Discuss this book on our Literary Contemporary Facebook group Share this book

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

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...'

If you like Nell Leyshon you might also like to read books by Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters and Peter Ackroyd.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse by Alexander Mccall Smith

One very lucky winner will receive a signed copy by Alexander McCall Smith of his latest novel, The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse. To have a chance of winning this fantastic prize, click the button below. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once.

The draw closes on 4 January 2018. The winner will be notified by 15th January 2018,

Good luck!

Enter prize draw Draw closes: 04/01/2018


The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon

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.


'Shocking and haunting. Read it, in one sitting' Spectator

'Charming, Bronte-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

'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

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

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

2nd May 2013


Nell Leyshon

More books by Nell Leyshon
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Facebook Latest

Loading facebook updates...
Loading twitter updates...


Penguin Books Ltd


176 pages


Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



Lovereading is like booking a holiday, you don't know what it will be like and it is a whole new experience.

Sue Burton

Their sending me my first book to review 18 months ago re-awakened my fondness for reading, since then I have purchased some real gems.

Barry Griffiths

I love Lovereading because of its ability to connect people that love books & unite them in a friendly, stimulating & interesting community.

Megan Olwen William

You can trust Lovereading to show unbiased reviews by actual, ordinary readers that help likeminded booklovers choose their next great read.

Linda Hill

They are bright, breezy and eager to offer a great book, then genuinely listen/respect the review one writes.

Maggie Crane

What can I say, the clue is in the title Lovereading - and awesome books.

Sarah Davis

Lovereading has all the new books and also suggestions for 'similar' authors whilst waiting for your favourites new books.

Carol Peace

Books of the month/debuts of the month, kids/adults, fiction/non-fiction, free prize draws and free extracts, what's not to love?

Emma Smith