This is the tale of Mary, a simple farm girl, sent to care for the vicar's invalid wife but who discovers wonders in words - and terrors in life.
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.
'Haunting, distinctive voices... Mary's spare simple words paint brilliant pictures in the reader's mind . . . Nell Leyshon's imaginative powers are considerable' Independent
'Brontë-esque undertones . . . a disturbing statement on the social constraints faced by 19th-century women' FT
'A small tour de force - a wonderfully convincing voice, and a devastating story told with great skill and economy' Penelope Lively
'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
'Brilliant, devastating and unforgettable' Easy Living
Nell Leyshon's first novel, Black Dirt, was longlisted 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.