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Archive: Other Books > Hot Milk by Deborah Levy - 4 stars

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Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
4 stars

Y'all, I am in a Normal People hangover. It is deep and it is dark. For those of you who know my reading preferences, you know that I am NOT one for extremely character-driven books that require to me analyze lots of metaphors and symbolism to unearth some deep hidden meaning. I don't often swoon over elegant (read: pretentious) experimental (read: unconventional punctuation) writing.

Yet, here I am. I am CRAVING another book that hits me like Normal People did, and I know that I am not going to get that from Nora Roberts. So, I asked my literary book friends for a list of suggestions and Deborah Levy was at the top of their list. Hot Milk was very good, but I just did not have the extra connection with it.

Sophia is an anthropology graduate student who has put her dissertation on hold to take care of her sick mother, Rose. Rose is plagued by a series of shifting ailments that do not add up to a diagnosis and yet prevent her from walking or taking care of herself. She relies solely on Sophia. The two make a last ditch effort to visit Dr. Gomez in a small, coastal Spanish town to see if he can get to the root of Rose's issues.

While the set up of the story centers around Rose and her physical health, the central character is Sophia. Sophia escorts us through her world, exposing her inner thoughts and feelings regarding her relationship with her dependent mother, her estranged father, and herself. And I totally connected to this. Perhaps because I have been that not-quite finished PhD student who questions everything about her choices and how she will fit in to a post-graduate school world.

But, Sophia has so many more levels than that. Her relationship with her mother is so complex and fraught that it was a painful delight to read. Her relationships with her two lovers revealed more about how Sophia viewed herself that anything about sex or relationships, and I slowly questioned how Sophia portrayed them to the reader.

And, ugh, put me down as a fan of the pretentious writing. I honestly do not know what is happening to me! Perhaps quarantine has slowed my life down enough to allow me the space to really think about what I am reading. Perhaps isolation has left me craving deeper conversations and connections that are lacking in real life right now. Whatever it is, I am going to embrace it while it lasts.

Immediately after finishing Hot Milk I picked up Levy's latest (also critically acclaimed) book, The Man Who Saw Everything and I have to say that it is blowing me away even more. Keep an eye out for that review soon!


message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7867 comments Nicole wrote: Perhaps quarantine has slowed my life down enough to allow me the space to really think about what I am reading. Perhaps isolation has left me craving deeper conversations and connections that are lacking in real life right now

Right? I am feeling the same way-LoL! Although my guilty pleasure is Fantasy, the last month I have craved intellectual stimulation. How's that for pretentious? Seeing how I have to read from what I have on hand, I have gone through ancient storage books, and found myself reading books that were packed away years ago. Most of them gifts from people who had no idea what my genre's were. I just finished, although way off the radar for me, Edward Rutherfurd's The Princes of Ireland. I have always been terrified of his books (god only knows why). Very character driven, and a tome at over 700 page, and I finished it in a month's time. I am going back to those boxes today, like you I am going to embrace whatever is going on in my reading persona. I still have some silly fantasy to reach for each night, but it seems my brain needs something more than that right now.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Joanne wrote: "Right? I am feeling the same way-LoL!"

It is a weird little side effect of COVID!

Glad you are finding some uncharacteristic books that you enjoy in your stash of books. I have been pretty lucky with getting ebooks from the library, and did buy a couple paperbacks from a local bookstore and picked them up curbside. Trying to support those local small businesses!


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