One-sentence review: languorous, mysterious and evocative with a dark twist.
Slightly longer review:
A young woman uncertain of herself is in a coastal Spanish town so she can take her cranky hypochondriac mother to a specialist who might be a crank himself.
In some ways this is a coming-of-age novel, as Sofia falls in love with the mysterious and imperious Ingrid, has blissful love-free sex with the young man who treats jellyfish stings at the beach, and she contemplates what to do with her anthropology studies while using anthropology as a frame with which to study her confusing world.
At other times this feels like a mystery. Is Sofia being stalked – and if so, by who?
Are her mother’s ailments – such as not being able to walk – real?
Is she using her mother as an excuse for not living her own life?
But none of this explains why Hot Milk is worth reading.
For me, it was the rich imagery; the way the author, Deborah Levy, brings characters, locations and situations to life. Many of the characters are frustrating, but for all their oddities they’re convincing.
If you want to be transported to the coast of Spain – even if that means dealign with a grumpy invalid – Hot Milk is for you.