Review: Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

The latest novel from Booker-Prize nominated Deborah Levy is heavy. Really heavy. I still can’t decide whether it’s good or not – that probably means it isn’t, doesn’t it?

25 year old Sofia is drifting through life, working as a barista while looking after her hypochondriac mother, Rose. Rose’s illness has baffled doctors in the UK for years, so she’s decamped to a clinic in Spain for the summer for treatment from a controversial doctor.

And that’s about it for plot. No really, there’s not much more in Hot Milk. It’s enough for Levy to explore themes of dependence, control, and family ties, though.

It’s also enough for Levy to wield language like a surgical knife, as when Sofia describes her relationship with her mother,

“My love for my mother is like an axe. It cuts very deep.”

See what I mean? There’s loads like this in here. Layer upon layer of it. At times it feels like Levy has chosen every last word to make sure the tone, cadence, and voice are perfect.

Levy also plays around with the atmosphere. There are creepy bits added that have nothing to do with the plot, told from the point of view of  someone spying on Sofia while she sleeps. It is super creepy, and does almost nothing.

In the end I was left wondering how the hell I’d read so much good writing about so much of nothing.


So what do you think? Have you read it? Did you like it? Would you recommend it?

Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Review: Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

  1. LMAO! Yup, this is the way I feel about a lot of literary fiction. I am in awe of the author’s use of language, but there’s no meat to sink your reading chops into. This is one reason that some of my church’s book club selections leave me cold. But hey, if you’re having trouble sleeping, might I suggest one from said book club, MRS. SINCLAIR’s SUITCASE. Holy balls, nothing much happened, but they drank a lot of hot tea.

    Liked by 1 person

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