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Hot Milk

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  17,739 ratings  ·  1,966 reviews
Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She's frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and Rose travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant, Dr. Gomez—the ...more
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA (first published March 31st 2016)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
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 ·  17,739 ratings  ·  1,966 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it
So I finished this book, am shaking my head and thinking what a strange little book this was. Additionally I am sure that there is much I have missed in symbolism and a deeper meaning I am just not getting. A mother and a daughter, either the mother is very ill or using her illness as a passive aggressive gesture? A 25 year old daughter, who has delayed her thesis in order to take care of her mother, a seriously bad co-dependent relationship. The daughter does not have much in the way of gumptio ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Despite the multiple negative reviews on this one, including the New York Times review that describes this novel as wanting in narrative, I really loved this book! It just goes to show you that not every book is for every reader, and that we all look for different things when we read. I thought when I liked it and others didn't that it didn't have a shot for the Man Booker prize, but the day after I finished it, it was named to the shortlist for 2016.
"I am overflowing like coffee leaking from a
...more
Fionnuala
I’ve written a lot of book reviews recently in which alcohol had a leading role. It was unavoidable—I'd been reading the works of François Rabelais and Flann O’Brien, both of whom favour scenarios where quantities of beer and wine are consumed.
Goodreaders who follow my reviews may have had enough of such alcoholic ramblings so I thought I’d write about hot milk today for a change.

Not that I expect to find many goodreaders who like hot milk. Is there anyone who really finds hot milk palatable—u
...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: litmus-test
A marbled white dome, its creamy walls veined with blue minerals, is the place of last resort for a mother-daughter pair looking for answers. It is a posh medical clinic set in an artificial oasis of flowers in the area of Andalusia, Spain. There are smaller yellowed domes also dotting the nearby Spanish desert, and inside them work migrants - slaves, really -who toil inside the geodesic greenhouses to bring about fruit where there should be none.

This dreamlike story is dotted with blatant symbo
...more
Robin
Mothering, or lack of it, is at the heart of this eccentric, breast-laden book. Breasts everywhere, this is a bosomy paradise that features white, blue veined marble domed buildings, the tell-tale wet shirt of a nursing mother, a woman selling melons by the road, an entire scene that plays out with our heroine Sofia accidentally and unknowingly topless, and even the book's apt title. The female form is everywhere, reminding Sofia of the mothering she missed out on. The chesty symbolism protrudes ...more
Maxwell
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, man-booker, 2016
I just didn't really get this one. Nice writing, but the story was all over the place and the dialogue was unnatural.
Hugh
A haunting, enigmatic and dreamlike story analysing a daughter's relationship with her mother and the damage they inflict on one another.

On the surface not much happens - Sofia accompanies her mother Rose to a desert beach resort in Spain where they attend a local clinic to find the mysterious ailment that prevents her mother walking, and has various affairs interspersed with a visit to her Greek father and his new family. The surface story is insignificant but full of symbolic resonances. Like
...more
Andrew Smith
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Sophia is twenty-five years old and possesses the dark Mediterranean looks of her Greek father. She’s clever too – in the academic sense, at least – having completed a master’s degree in Anthropology. She’s currently working in a London coffee shop whilst struggling to finish her doctoral thesis. So a trip to southern Spain to accompany her mother, who is seeking a cure for a mystery debilitating illness, seems like just the ticket.

Whilst there, she swims and fetches water (always the ‘wrong’ w
...more
Vanessa
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okayyy......This book is really strange, the setting is beautiful and transports you to another ethereal place however the story feels fragmented almost as if Sophie is living in a deamlike trance removed from reality, the most perplexing thing is the dialogue. The stilted conversations the unusual randomness of the questions, it's like everyone is infected by the same tap water or something which makes everyone act so strangely or perhaps the scorching Mediterranean sun is to blame. None of the ...more
Katie
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very self-consciously literary novel. At times almost overloadedly literary as motifs, symbols, allusions to current global events, poetical dialogue are heaped in the narrative shopping trolley. I often felt like the author was trying to cover too much ground and as a result the focus could be a bit blurry. Also, I couldn't quite get a handle on the narrator who seemed to me like two different women. I was never quite sure if what she was telling us was really taking place - in partic ...more
MJ Nicholls
Debbie has passed from the cool and profitless corners of the unknown (where the finest books are published), to the Booker-nominated realm of mainstream presses who insist on insipid covers with bikini-clad women to flog their books to “markets” not readers. Despite this brutal shift, Debbie has not altered her lean poetic prose style, her steely Ballardian tone, and her panache for poking into the painful nooks of her damaged personnel. This short novel features a daughter chained to her hypoc ...more
Elyse  Walters
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Questions I thought about....
Why is this story set in Southern Spain? And what's the connection of the location
to the title of the book?

When I think of Southern Spain, I think of gorgeous beaches, bright blue skies, fluffy flamingo dresses, sangrias, and many vibrant cheerful healthy people.

When I think of "Hot Milk"... I think of a young child. I think about a warm white soothing drink before bedtime.....and sleeping and dreaming.

Our main characters are not vibrant, cheerful, or healthy ( of
...more
Bianca
I am actually sorry I finished listening to this terrific novel. I found it hypnotic, dream-like and compelling. I should probably wait a little longer and ponder before I write my review, but that's not really my style.

This is a relatively complex novel, deceptive in its simplicity. It's filled with symbolism and it's wonderfully rich in characterizations and vivid descriptions.

Twenty-five year old Sofia is the carer of her sixty-four-year-old, hypochondriac mother, Rose, who's lost the abili
...more
Britta Böhler
I really loved the first 100 pages or so, but the meandering story didn't keep me interested and I felt too detached from the characters (practically all of them neurotic in one way or the other) to care about them. Plus: The writing was skillfully done but too heavy on the symbolism for my taste.
2.5*

Re-read in January 2019:
I definitely liked it better this time, probably also because I knew that I shouldn't expect a lot of plot. The beauty of the book is in the writing and the imagery (the sym
...more
Rebecca
“My love for my mother is like an axe. It cuts very deep.” This is a most unusual mother–daughter story, set on the southern coast of Spain. Twenty-five-year-old Sofia Papastergiadis has put off her anthropology PhD to accompany her mother, Rose, on a sort of pilgrimage from their home in England to Dr. Gómez’s clinic to assess what’s wrong with Rose’s legs. What I loved about this novel is the uncertainty about who each character really is. Is Rose an invalid or a first-class hypochondriac? Is ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars.
This book takes place in Spain and for that alone I loved it. I felt like drying in the sun, swimming in the blue water and hearing the seagulls cry while reading and it was bliss.
As soon as I dived into the story - which is about a hypocondriac mother and her daughter who have gone to Spain to find a cure - I realized that this was going to be a quirky story, written beautifully. Deborah Levy makes sure that every dot is connected without making it too obvious, and therefore it is
...more
Trish
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Trish by: The Mookse and the Gripe
In light of Elaine's review, I rewrote my initial snarky take on this novel and posted to my blog. To get full enjoyment from this novel, I urge you to see what a reread will do for you.

Below is my original review.
---------------------


This short novel feels too long. An anthropologist, Sofia, quits working on her PhD ostensibly to care for her mother, who is unable to walk. No explanation can be found for the mother’s malady so mother and daughter travel to Spain in hopes a specialist there may
...more
Emma
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This whole novel feels like a dreamscape. From the outset, the voice of Sofia is out of sync with the real world. Her thoughts tumble over each other, escaping in to connections that make sense only to her. Her interactions with other characters are stilted, rapid affairs in which each person seems to be having their own, separate conversations, with meaning only relevant to themselves. Being stung by a jellyfish only enhances and extends the feverish, fanciful narrative. It creates a bizarre, d ...more
Amanda
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth selection I have read from the 2016 Man-Booker longlist and it is my favorite so far.

Written in a dreamy, lyrical style rich in symbolism it tells the story of Rose and her daughter Sofia who are on an extended holiday in Spain to visit a clinic to cure Rose's physical (mental?) problems with her feet.

There is a whole cast of dysfunctional characters in this and the relationship between Rose and Sofia is fascinating.
Gumble's Yard
Sofia and her mother Rose are staying in Southern Spain – where they have come (having taken a mortgage on Rose’s house) to a famous clinic owner Dr Gomez who Rose believes offers the only hope to her mysterious illness (a part physical, part psychological inability to walk due to paralysis of feeling in her feet). Rose is from Yorkshire originally, but married a Greek who later divorced her and cut off all contact with Rose and Sofia, marrying a girl 40 years his junior (and only 4 years older ...more
Dianne
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dreamy, surreal and loaded with maternal and sexual symbolism, this mother/daughter tale is not your run of the mill story. I felt like I had entered a twisted dreamscape - is this really happening or is it the imagination of an anguished mind?

Sofia is the long suffering daughter of a manipulative, hypochondriac mother. The mother claims she cannot walk or feel her feet, but she seems able to walk just fine when Sophie is not around. They take a trip to Spain to see an esteemed consultant in a l
...more
Vanessa
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars.

I have very mixed feelings about this. About halfway through, I had an incredibly strong urge to DNF the book altogether. It was only a little over 200 pages though, so I forced myself to continue and finish it. Still, it took me almost a week to read a book much shorter than a lot of books I read, which is never a good sign.

Hot Milk I think has more of a central idea than a central plot. We follow the narrator Sofia, who moves to Almería in Spain with her mother Rose, to seek special
...more
Srividya
“Who am I?” she asked,
“What am I?” she pondered
Bound by the chains of responsibility,
Dragged down by the burden called life,
Meaning and purpose, lost forever,
Existing for another, with no choice
I ask myself, what am I?

Am I just a daughter?
Or merely a lowly employee?
What is my status?
What are my rights?
Where lies my purpose?
Where lies my meaning?
Do I even have a right?

An extension is all I am,
An extension to the limbs of another
Born into this life I was
Borne with love, I thought
Mysteries surroun
...more
Lynne King
Jul 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book was written five years after "Swimming Home", a book by this author which I adore. But this book - I hate it. I don't know why but it does nothing for me.

I really cannot understand why this book had such a depressing effect on me. It is set in Spain and shows Sofia and her mother Rose arriving at a clinic to try and find a cure for the latter's inability to walk. Dr Gomez, the individual in the clinic who everyone believes will achieve this, is a vacuous individual and his daughter Jul
...more
Elaine
Jul 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
3.75

I enjoyed a lot of this book, the prose and the odd feeling of dread, and the fabulous job of recreating a not very nice Spanish tourist town.

And I actually enjoyed that it is a book that gives you tons to chew over because you know that nothing is as it seems and all is about story telling. The book calls out continually to Greek myth, and the mother is a fabulist and the daughter an "ethnographer", a modern interpreter (and maker) of myth, and the healer seems focused on stories, not the
...more
Julie
Oct 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
I had such high hopes for this one. I really wanted to like it based, if nothing else, on the opinions of people whom I respect. Once again, I find myself deviating from the mainstream. Quelle surprise!

Hot Milk Bleh. What a mess!

The dreamlike quality of which many reviewers rave is certainly present ... but when they see Elysian fields, I am reminded of David Lynch's dwarf, muttering in the darkness: something about convenience stores and damaged limbs. (Sound familiar?)

Here's a link

It makes as
...more
Bill
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a really excellent little book (217 pages). There really isn't that much of a plot. Sofia, a young would be anthropologist goes with her mother to a very expensive medical clinic in Spain to try and determine what is the mysterious ailment that affects her mother's legs. While they are there, Sofia meets people, both male and female and falls in love with one of them. Meanwhile her mohter undergoes numerous medical tests at the clinic.

I can't really explain why I liked this book so much,
...more
Neil
Re-read in 2017 and still one of my favourite reads of the last I don't know how long.

----------

Alex Clark’s review in The Guardian ends like this: “Over the course of her novels, short stories, plays and essays – including 2013’s response to George Orwell’s “Why I Write”, which she entitled “Things I Don’t Want to Know” – Levy has prodded at the intersections between gender, identity, language and desire, constantly cocking her ear to hear stories of displacement, exile and return. Hot Milk, wi
...more
Annelies
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
What's in a mother-daughter relation when the roles are inverted. Is the mother still the mother? Is the daughter still the daughter as she becomes her mother's full time carer? I think basic relations are torn here in the book. How far will Sophia go to stay her mother's carer? Is the mother a hypochondriac? We shall see and the end is how it will be...
jo
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book hit some place tender. It’s written in a slightly experimental way, which means that it’s a tiny bit weird, and i confess i like that stuff, i like it when women or non-white-men-in-general play with the form of the novel, cuz the form of the novel was developed by white dudes and it seems only right that those who question white patriarchy should also play with the form.

The 25-year-old narrator is way younger than the author when she wrote this (or at least when she published it) and
...more
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Deborah Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their "intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination", including PAX, HERESIES for the Royal Shakespeare Company, CLAM, CALL BLUE JANE, SHINY NYLON, HONEY BABY MIDDLE ENGLAND, PUSHING THE PRINCE INTO DENMARK and MACBETH-FALSE MEMORIES, some of which are published in LEVY ...more

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