Review: Milk Fever by Lisa Reece-Lane

Book Reviews, Book Reviews

In the misnamed town of Lovely, newcomer Julia Heath is struggling to adapt to life in the country, especially when she begins to suspect that her yoga-teacher husband is having an affair with the butcher’s wife.
But Julia soon falls under the spell of Tom, a handsome, if troubled, dairy farmer who experiences the world through extra-ordinary senses. When Julia’s husband sets out to cure Tom’s migraines and memory lapses all three lives become entwined and changed and Julia is forced to heal the wounds of her past and abandon all ideas of the perfect family.
Milk Fever is an uncommon romance. It is a novel of love, yearning, the fragility of modern family and forgiveness. And of how, despite our desire to remain separate, we are all incredibly precious, connected and, ultimately, necessary to each other.
 

 Synopsis Courtesy of http://lisareecelane.com/milk_fever.html

As a rule, I rarely read adult fiction. As I have found over the years, nearly every adult fiction book I’ve read has been pretentious and over-wordy, as if the author wanted to see just how big their vocabulary really was. Upon receiving Milk Fever, I was still a bit prejudiced against adult fiction in general, even though I have recently loved Dan Brown’s thrillers.

I will be the first to say just how wrong my prejudices were.

Milk Fever is a hidden gem in the literary world. I felt pulled in by Julia’s struggles of maintaining a happy facade for her family and friends, the skewed visions Tom occasionally had about burying his mother, and the heartbreak of discovering Julia’s husband might be having an affair with a vivacious woman in Lovely.

The prose was brilliantly written, love for this work of art etched into every word and phrase, small moments and climactic scenes. I was entranced by the descriptions of the songs the earth made, and feeling that I, too, was not alone in feeling this way about the world around me. Milk Fever makes you feel fragile and strong at the same time. It makes you appreciate every small and sometimes insipid detail about your life that you might take for granted. A child sleeping soundly, grassy fields at the height of summer, the wind upon your face…

It felt like a Polaroid picture of the way our hearts are meant to feel, without our heads getting in the way of our happiness. It made me believe in love truly existing in the perfect harmonic key.

All I have to do…is listen.

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In case you missed it, here is an encore presentation of my interview with Lisa Reece-Lane.

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Interview with Lisa Reece-Lane

Author of “Milk Fever”.

—Tell us a little about Milk Fever… 

I must confess that the best descriptions I’ve read for Milk Fever so far have been written by other people. But here goes:

Milk Fever is a story about all of us and how we interact with each other, how we process the wounds of our past through our current relationships. And ultimately, how we are all flawed and precious. It explores the lives of two characters, Julia an accomplished ballet dancer turned house wife attempting to adjust to live in the dismal country town of Lovely, with her infuriatingly optimistic husband who has started up a yoga school. And Tom, a handsome, yet deeply disturbed dairy farmer. When Julia’s husband, Bryant sets out to cure Tom of his migraines and memory lapses, their worlds and lives are changed forever.

 —What inspired you to write Milk Fever?

It started life is a short story. The idea for someone burying their mother in the night and her showing up at breakfast the next morning just came to me one day out of the blue. Julia came later and perhaps was a way of working through the challenges I was having in my marriage at the time.

 —What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?

Trusting myself. I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people, who gave insights and helpful advice. But with the help came a period of confusion and I lost sight of the overall picture of what I was trying to express. I had to put Milk Fever aside for a couple of months (I wrote a kid’s book in the meantime so I could keep the brain in working order) and rediscover what I wanted the book to be about. More than once, I considered giving up on it. I think writers are sensitive people, so we easily doubt ourselves. What I learned from the whole process was that it’s good to take on advice from others, mull it over, see what fits, but in the end assimilate that knowledge while keeping true to your own inner voice.

 —Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a young girl I used to write horse books; heaps of them. But I put that aside as my passion for music grew. After I quit music, I discovered a creative hole inside me, which writing filled up very nicely.

—What is your typical day of writing like? Do you use the same set of “tools” everyday or does it vary depending on mood? (i.e. computer, listening to music, writing with quill and ink…)

Good question. I think it’s an excellent idea to have rituals for creativity. Coffee is my brain stimulator of choice. I love making the perfect cup with my espresso machine and then I take it into a little shed at the back of my house and stare out of the window until I feel the words begging to be written. I very much like the idea of quill and ink though. I think that poetry begs for ink, rather than a keyboard, but the poets would be a better judge of that.

—Who are your main literary influences? I already know you like Jane Austen… 🙂

I adore Jane Austen, you’re right!! I love her restraint, I love her bantering prose, I love Jane full stop. But there are so many writers. I love Tim Winton, and Sonya Hartnett, I think Markus Zusac is a master. I’m a huge fan of Rose Tremain and Belinda Haynes. The common link? They all are such individuals. Not a cliche in sight. I aspire to be a quarter as good as any of these.

—What do you hope your readers will take away from Milk Fever?

I hope readers will feel uplifted. Especially those that beat up on themselves. I hope readers will realise how precious they are. We are all of us flawed, we’re all making mistakes, we’re stuffing up, and yet we are beautiful beyond measure. If a reader likes themselves a little better after reading my book, I will be content.

 —Are any personal experiences hidden in this book?

Ah, yes. Here are the personal experiences: I moved to the country, but unlike Julia I made sure that the town I went to had some decent cafes in it! I love coffee. My marriage went crash. I trained as a yoga teacher (before Pilates) and finally, I can hear that this world is all music

—If you could cast the film version, who would you cast in the lead roles and why?

Oh, what a delicious question. Can I have anyone? Right, male lead would have to be Ioan Gruffudd, simply because I have the most ridiculous crush on that man (it doesn’t really matter that he doesn’t quite fit any of the character roles). Female lead, Cate Blanchet, because she can do ballet and is a stunning actress. And of course, me: I will give myself a walk on part, whenever Ioan is on screen, just so that I can stare at him.

—What do you think is the most important part of the writing process that novice writers don’t know about?

The balancing acts: trusting your own voice and yet be willing to take on advice; having a thick skin to deal with the rejections, and yet retaining enough sensitivity to be open to the world; having confidence, and also humility; being an introvert so you can create in solitude and an the extrovert necessary to promote what you’ve written. And finally, having restraint and also wild abandon and knowing what the writing calls for in each moment.

 —Any plans on a sequel to Milk Fever?

Not just yet, but maybe one day…

—What is your next project?

 I’ve written my next novel and am in the process – long process, I might add – of editing.

—How can your fans find you on the web? Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, etc.

Ooh, I like the idea of fans. If there are any out there they can drop me a line through my website:

www.lisareecelane.com

 Or leave a comment on the blog at: http://milkfever.wordpress.com

 –Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

I loved writing Milk Fever, although there were a few tears of frustration shed, and I enjoy feedback, so let me know what you think. I hope to meet you one day. :-))

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Shylock Books wishes to thank Lisa Reece-Lane for her candid interview.

Please visit her on the web at :

www.lisareecelane.com

www.milkfever.wordpress.com

Her Publisher: Murdoch Books

http://www.murdochbooks.com.au/

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8 thoughts on “Review: Milk Fever by Lisa Reece-Lane

  1. Oh what a wonderful interview! Thank you Lisa and Rose, this was a delight to read.
    I can relate to what you said about trusting yourself Lisa- constructive criticism and feedback are very useful but sometimes it can encourage self-doubt. Listening to that inner voice is vital and I’m glad you didn’t give up on Milk Fever! 🙂

  2. Rose, I must admit, I was terrified of seeing your review, in case you hated the book. But you got it, you really did. You understood perfectly what I was trying to express. Thank you for taking the time to read it, ponder it, and review it! I appreciate your time and effort, Rose, especially as you had to suffer through sniffles and allergies!!
    X Lisa

    1. You are very welcome, Lisa! 🙂 The allergies hit me like a Mack Truck—setting me back more than a week on editing, reviewing, and critiquing. But it was a true pleasure to read your book, and I read it in three hours or so because it drew me in. And that’s saying something! You have a beautiful gift with the language, above par from the rest of the crowd in the publishing world. You did a wonderful job with it. 🙂 Are there plans on releasing Milk Fever in the U.S?

  3. I love reading interviews! It’s so awesome to know the behind-the-scene story of a writer…their joys and struggles. It’s always so inspiring for an unpublished-writer as myself to read. And it’s also always soooo very cool to know that I’m following this author’s blog!

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is one of my most favourite books I’ve ever read and I’ve read a lot being a writer and working in a bookstore and starting to read adult novels when I was 10!

    This book stayed with me for days after I’d finished it and I enjoyed the dark that was mixed with the power of love.

    I wish I’d written this book and I’m perpetually jealous that this was Lisa’s first published novel.

    Next!

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