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“Heartbreaking, breathtaking, and very human, The Colour of Milk reads less like historical fiction and more like a memoir. Mary is a hardworking but willful farm girl in rural England until her abusive father 'sells' her to the local vicar as a servant. Her new position brings her opportunities for education and wider knowledge than she ever had before, but there are consequences. This gripping story of power, family, and self-determination will pull you right in and stay with you for a long time.”
— Caitlin Caulfield, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA
The Colour of Milk is a literary tour de force of power, class, and fate, told in the fierce, urgent voice of the irrepressible Mary, a character as indelible as The Color Purple's Celie and Margaret Atwood's eponymous Alias Grace.
Set in England in 1830, The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon is an emotionally haunting work of historical fiction -- hailed as "charming, Bronte-esque...and hard to forget" (Marian Keyes) -- about an illiterate farm girl's emotional and intellectual awakening and its devastating consequences.
Mary, the spirited youngest daughter of an angry, violent man, is sent to work for the local vicar and his invalid wife. Her strange new surroundings offer unsettling challenges, including the vicar's lecherous son and a manipulative fellow servant. But life in the vicarage also offers unexpected joys, as the curious young girl learns to read and write -- knowledge that will come at a tragic price.
“Nell Leyshon has beautifully captured a voice that haunts, long after the last word has been read. Brava!”
-Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House
“A wonderfully convincing voice and a devastating story told with great skill & economy. . . . A small tour de force”
-Penelope Lively, award-winning author of Family Album and Moon Tiger
“I loved it. The Colour of Milk is charming, Brontë-esque, compelling, special, and hard to forget. I loved Mary’s voice—so inspiring and likeable. Such a hopeful book.”
-Marian Keyes, bestselling author of Angels and Anybody Out There?