It is a warm, frothy story of women who make mistakes and then live with it. However these mistakes only make them strong women, brave enough to challenge and disregard societal stereotypes in the
war ridden society of the 1930s.
Nellie and Vivian have been brought up by their older sister as companions for one another, discouraged to envisage themselves as wives and mothers. After their sister dies, they then fall for the same man and life never remains the same. However life does get back on track and when the time comes, one marries for love and the other for security. Hogkinson traces their lives with insight and it is very interesting to see how their experiences impacts their perception and persona.
Nellie then has a girl Birdie who is partly raised by Vivian who is childless herself and the two women share a strong maternal bond with the child. Birdie too makes choices with disastrous consequences and years later, family secrets worm out of the closet when least expected.
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. I know this sounds a bit overboard, but the countryside setting adds to the charm of the plot and lives of the characters.
What works for the novel:
- Good strong, female characters
- The concept of family ties that every woman can relate to
- Great descriptions of countryside
There is nothing that doesn't work here. It is well written and is quite timely. At a time when the greenery is making a comeback and the sun is shining brighter, Spilt Milk is an ideal read for those lazy evenings in the garden or for enjoying the sun by the beach.