Hot Milk

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

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By Deborah Levy

avg rating

9 reviews

Explores the violently primal bond between mother and daughter. Examining female rage and sexuality, this novel explores the strange and monstrous nature of motherhood, testing the bonds of parent and child to breaking point.


18 Oct 2016

This book made me laugh out loud on every page. It has gone straight into my top five ever and will take pride of place with the other four in my downstairs loo. The exploration of the mother/daughter relationship really spoke to me particularly with the use of the word cleave with its two meanings. Sofia was looking to step away from her mother, whilst Rose, much like the tentacles of the jellyfish kept pulling her back. Just like the jelly fish, Rose had her own way of stinging and Sofia couldn't stop herself going back for more. A worthy Booker winner.

17 Oct 2016

Characters and places were well developed and I enjoyed reading it. It could've done with a bit more complexity in the story, or another story along side the one told.

15 Oct 2016

Not many books strike a chord, but for some of our book club, Wine Women and Words, Ho Milk made them laugh and cry with recognition.
Sophie’s relationship with her invalid mother, Rose, is explored directly, as they seek answers to Rose’s intermittent ability to walk, and also through Sophia’s other relationships with her estranged father, Rose’s doctor, and Sophia’s friends and and lovers.
Sophia’s role as long term care has shaped her life, and filial obligations, conditional and unconditional love, and exploitation are explored through imagery, metaphor and humour.
We all loved Deborah’s way with words.
Although there is no plot, we are taken on a journey with Sophia and her mother, feeling their increasing rage and frustration,
This culminates in a shocking act of desperation and a life changing disclosure, but you may close the book feeling you wished you could have known them better.

14 Oct 2016

Read this book with an open mind and read it again! The writing is generous, saturated with profound insights into the human heart and its imperfect beat, poetic and incredibly witty. It is a firework of beautiful and very funny images, which I found myself wanting to capture for their shocking originality. The main characters are quirky and mostly brave even if their muddled up lives can mistake one for thinking otherwise. They are a work in progress fighting their own demons, some with more honesty than others but then, aren't we all? So don't look for a plot or a destination, this book is a rich journey that in my view requires none.

12 Oct 2016

Wine, women and words

I had mixed feelings about this book. It has a dreamlike narrative that explores mother daughter relationship and identity.
The language is beautiful, striking metaphors and deeper meaning but I didn't really connect with the characters and found it lacking in plot. There was a lot of symbolism, some of which I just didn't get, but became a lot clearer after discussing in our book club (wine, women and words) and this actually made me look at the book in a different light. This book was open to each individuals own interpretations according to our own past experiences and relationships which was very interesting to discuss.
I found Hot Milk a difficult book to review but it left me with a lot to think about and would one day like to reread.

09 Oct 2016

Jenny (winewomenandwords)

Hot Milk, a story exploring the relationship between a mother and daughter, though in reality this book is an exploration of relationships between Sofia and many others : her father, her friend, her lovers.
This book highlighted the deep love and understanding Sophia and Rose had for each other, the sense of loyalty Sophia showed towards her mother, and the transfer of control from mother to daughter as the book progressed. Striking a chord with many of us, this novel promoted a lot of discussion amongst our book club (Wine women and words) girls!

A beautifully written and quite poetic novel. Personally, I got more enjoyment from the language and metaphors used throughout, than from the book as a whole. I kept waiting for a plot to develop but ended the book slightly disappointed.

08 Oct 2016

Our book club (Wine Women and Words) had plenty to say on this one. For some the exploration of the mother daughter relationship touched more than a few chords with its insights into the tensions of the relationship between Sofia and Rose. Did Hot Milk do more than scratch the surface on this though? Some thought so and praised the depth of characterisation while others felt they never really got to know the two main characters well enough. All were agreed on the beauty of the book's language though and the power of the themes that made us think - family ties, responsibility and mothering.
Frustrations simmer under the surface of relationships in this one, from the chained up dog on the beach to the human interaction between Sofia and her mother, her Greek family and her new friends. They are much like the jellyfish lurking in the sea and the inevitable stings are both physical and psychological.
A book that will stay with me, always a good sign, but not sure I'll be rushing to read it again. On to more of the shortlisted novels now.

08 Oct 2016

This is the story of Sophia, a 25 year old who works in a coffee shop, despite her degree in anthropology. We first meet her in Almeria, Spain where she has travelled to a private clinic in order to seek a solution to her mother's longstanding, intermittent inability to walk. We get to learn that Sofia's father abandoned his family when she was a child, leaving her as sole carer for her ailing mother. Her mother, Rose, becomes increasingly dependent upon Sofia over the years and although Sophia becomes increasingly put upon, she describes her love for her mother as being like an axe because it cuts so deep. The book explores in depth the relationship between not only Sophia and her mother but also the relationship between Sophia and her two lovers, her father and his new wife and baby daughter. The beauty of this book is in the clever way Deborah Levy draws the reader in with her simple but poetical use of language and it's observation of human relationships and human nature in all its glory and ugliness.
My only gripe is I kept waiting for something profound to happen in the way of a plot but disappointingly it never quite did, hence the three star rating.

08 Oct 2016


This book certainly divided our book group (winewomenandwords) directly down the middle. Some of us loved it for its humour and wit whilst others lamented its lack of plot or the author's inability to draw the reader into the characters' lives. We all agreed that it was a thinking-person's book; full of beautiful metaphors, thought-provoking symbols and intelligent writing. An original - almost dream-like - study of human nature and relationships. As for me, well as both a mother and a daughter, I enjoyed the exploration of parental exploitation alongside the guilt and frustrations felt with filial obligation. (Spoiler alert) Whether you enjoy this book may indeed be dependent on your own mother-daughter relationship and may make you wonder whether you could become that mad desperate mother refusing to let go or whether you should be the daughter who's best ever decision was to abandon your mother by the side of the road!

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