1913. Unmarried sisters Nellie and Vivian Marsh live an impoverished existence in a tiny cottage on the banks of the Little River in Suffolk. Their life is quiet and predictable, until a sudden flood throws up a strange fish on their doorstep and a travelling man who will change them forever...
'Nellie waded through the garden. The rain was softer now. The fields were covered in pale lakes of water. The cottage was an island, a place where monsters could wash up and yet, not far away, the modern world hurried along. There was a daily omnibus service to neighbouring villages. It stopped outside the post office in the village where telegrams could be sent all over the world, so the postmistress claimed. A railway station too, where you could ride a train all the way to London. New factories had sprung up, miles downriver. The young twentieth century was all around her. It was just that their lives were not a part of it.
Three wishes, Vivian had said. One for each sister.
Good health for Rose. Ostrich feathers for Vivian and sherbet for her sweet tooth. Nellie didn't know what she'd wish for. A train ticket or a boat ride to other lands. Maybe just an end to the long winters when she froze her hands blue, harvesting turnips out of the frosted mud.'
Reviews for Spilt Milk
"Amanda Hodgkinson is fast becoming a fine fictional chronicler of women's lives in the mid-20th century." Rachel Hore. The Independent.
"Spilt Milk is a refracted version of real life, that impossible mess we inherit and muddle through, yet transmuted here into something shining and meaningful, told in beautiful prose. Spilt Milk will be enjoyed by those who like family sagas but it’s much more than that: Hodgkinson's thoughtful writing demands careful reading." The Financial Times.
"This is a story that explores motherhood and sisterhood with great subtlety and power ... with its strong storytelling, haunting characters and beautiful, supple prose." The Independent
"Expertly paced..." The Guardian.
"The novel is a realization of a rural life, so lyrical and loving that it evokes the shades of Edward Thomas." Daily Mail.
"Spilt Milk belongs to that class of novel precisely invested in femininity, motherhood and the weight of succeeding generations. Like Toni Morrison's Beloved, the characters are rooted in the traumas that have come to define them." Cape Times South Africa.
"Hodgkinson's depiction of the countryside is beautiful. I could easily imagine the river, a focal point of the novel, and feel the water gushing through my feet, dragging me along and keeping me grounded at the same time." Onerightwordblogspot.
"Spilt Milk is a beautiful novel. I was captivated by the story, the characters and the shadows they carried - and I'm sure you will be too." WORDS WITH JAM MAGAZINE.
"Spilt Milk would be a great read for a fan of women's fiction who is tempted to try out something historical. Highly recommended" www.medievalbookworm.com
"Its subtle charms emerging as her gentle, bittersweet story shows history repating itself over the generations." The Sunday Times.
"Hodgkinson's atmospheric and affecting novel excels in its finely detailed sense of time and place, its gently unfolding narrative and the insight and power of its emotive themes.Wise, perceptive, warm and heartbreaking, this is a story that lingers long in the mind..." The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times.
"The beautiful writing - the almost cinematic descriptions, the gentle style - is even more fully developed, and this was a simply wonderful read. Slowly unfolding, all absorbing, and I'd really recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about the twists and turns of life and relationships against a beautifully drawn and constantly evolving historic backdrop. I really loved it." Beingannereading.blogspot.co.uk
"Spilt Milk is a beautiful novel. I was captivated by the story, the characters and the shadows they carried – and I'm sure you will be too." Triskele Books blog.
"Entertainingly written and portrayed. It delves into sisterhood and motherhood with a rare tenderness and insight." Nudgebooks.com
"I am sure Spilt Milk will be on all the book club lists this year." Parry Sound Books.
"A potent, moving story of mother and sisterhood." Sainsbury's Magazine