Book Reviews

#12Days of Christmas book game: day 8

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me

 Eight Maids a-Milking

Day 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

We’re into the section of the song where people feature more prominently than feathered creatures. Doesn’t make the selection of titles any easier though. I suppose they mean by maidens not ladies in frilly aprons who serve high tea or do the dusting for you? Wonder how many of those can also milk a cow – an unusual skill to show up on your CV…

Booker Talk Titles for Day 

Milking takes me to Hot Milk by Deborah Levy which was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. I haven’t read it – the furthest I got was chapter 1 which featured a dialogue about stinging jelly fish which bored me so much I didn’t feel inclined to read any further.

The other association would of course be the ‘play for voices’ Under Milk Wood by my countryman Dylan Thomas. If he’d stuck to drinking milk instead of spirits and beer he might be alive today. Then again maybe he wouldn’t have produced such distinctive poetry…..

But thats exhausted my list of associations with milk so I’ll switch to maids. Now I could go with the bestselling The Help by Kathryn Stockett which though it doesn’t feature the word maid in the title, is in fact all about maids. More particularly maids in the deep south and how badly they were treated in decades past. Far more enjoyable than I expected it to be – pride of place has to be the set piece where one maid takes revenge on her boss because she wouldn’t let her use the same toilet as the family.

I shall give a bonus today and add a fourth title – Lady’s Maid by Margaret Forster. I love Forster’s work for its blend of fiction and non fiction and this was one of the earliest experiences of her work. It’s a fictionalised account of a woman who goes to work for the poet Elizabeth Barrett and becomes a close confidant of her mistress, even helping in her secret marriage to Robert Browning. It gives a fascinating insight into the life of the poetess who now would probably be diagnosed as suffering anorexia and into Victorian life and culture.

Now over to you – here’s How to Play:

Come up with book titles or book images or anything book related (could be the name of a location mentioned in the book or a character) that matches with maids, maidens, milk or milking.  Let’s see how creative you can be. I’m looking ideally for 3 titles/images etc . You can mix and match your nominations.

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself. Why did you choose these titles – are they from your TBR or ones you’ve seen mentioned on a blog. Please try not to just use lists from Goodreads etc.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

The Giveaway

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

To participate, your list of books must be in the comments field by 10pm GMT/5pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday, Dec 12.

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.



What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

10 thoughts on “#12Days of Christmas book game: day 8

  • This one is not easy, so here are three great books featuring maids:

    1) Anna Édes by Dezső Kosztolányi It doesn’t mention “maid” in the title but it’s an incredible novel about a maid in Budapest at the beginning of the 20thC

    2) The Imaginary Invalid by Molière. Again, no maid in the title but the maid Toinette is such a fantastic character in this comedy.

    3) In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust and its unforgettable maid, Françoise.

    • I like your approach Emma – you should get an extra point for having read the Proust

  • The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid by Thomas Hardy
    Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (poetry)
    Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (Kid’s story book)

  • Three ‘maid’ titles from my TBR:

    1. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon, a Jazz Age novel set in New York City.

    2. The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell, a short novel about the aftermath of a dance hall explosion in Missouri in the 1920s. The author is meant to be a classic of contemporary Southern literature but I’ve not read anything by him yet.

    3. Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull, about a fictional 18th-century female scientist. I read her first novel and enjoyed it so am interested in trying this second one.

  • Sarah

    I also thought of ‘Hot Milk’ – my second Deborah Levy suggestion in this challenge, but as you got there first I’ll go for……
    1.1984 – George Orwell – ok that might strictly be more ‘eighty’ than eight, but not when it’s written in numerical form, so I’ll risk it.
    2. Another tenuous eight one ….. IQ84 – by Haruki Murakami
    3. And nothing tenuous about this one – The Maid – by Kimberly Cutter.

  • Delighted to see Margaret Forster’s Lady’s Maid here – a book that I borrowed more than once in my enthusiasm for this authors work. I didn’t expect you to miss out Dylan Thomas either and such a good book as well as an obvious fit!

  • Hmm… All Australian women writers

    Robyn Cadwallader’s The anchoress about a young mediaeval maiden who decides to become, well, an anchoress
    Beverley Farmer’s book of short stories Milk… From the 1980s, long before I blogged
    Elizabeth Jolley’s novel Milk and honey… One of Jolley’s novels I haven’t read but intend to one day because I love her dark, but astutely observed writing. I’m sure the title is ironic.

  • I’ll go with 8 to start with:
    Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-eight days by Salman Rushdie. My favourite Rushdie, actually, probably because it’s the one I understood the best.
    Remembered Gardens, Eight Women and their Visions of an Australian Landscape by Holly Kerr Forsyth. This gorgeous book is about pioneer women in the colonial era and how they created gardens in the Australian bush as a place to remind them of home when they were homesick and a place of solace when they suffered the losses of childbirth.
    Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. This is actually on my wishlist. I’ve read a children’s version of it when I was little but I’ve never read the real thing.
    And (not very Christmassy, but …) A Woman in Berlin, Eight Weeks in the Conquered City by Anonymous. A shattering book, I’m sure you’ve read it because it’s an international bestseller.
    I can’t come up with anything for maids (though I read The Help too), but Milk Fever by Lisa Reece-Lane was a clever debut novel by one of the musicians in our Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. A sort of thinking woman’s romance…

  • I read The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta, set in post WWII Vienna, in January 2014 but don’t remember too much about it or many of the other books I read around that time, just a few weeks after my mom’s sudden death.

    From the maid to the milk: The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyson was about a young farm girl named Mary, with hair ‘the colour of milk’, sent to work in a vicar’s house. I read it in February 2015.

    And I must admit that I was slightly disappointed to find on my ‘Books Read’ list Death of a Maid by M.C.Beaton (read in 2006) because I’d to offer The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, a Shadrack Myers mystery set in Jamaica by Gillan Royes (read last year) because nothing in the song says those maids were milking COWS.


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