Milkman by Anna Burns, Brid Brennan (Narrator)
Published May 15th 2018 by Faber & Faber, December 4th 2018 by Dreamscape Media Llc
About the Book: In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.
Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I am really glad I did not read the reviews on Goodreads for this one before I listened to it. It seems most people either loved or hated this book. I am still not sure how I feel. Milkman either won or was nominated for plenty of awards, so Reading Ireland month seemed the perfect time to pick this one up. Milkman tells the story of an unnamed girl in an unnamed city, where the social rules to belonging are strict and don’t allow for straying too far. When the gets the unwanted attention of Milkman and becomes the center of gossip in the city, she knows she’s in danger. With a lot of family advice and some interference, a possible boyfriend, a protective mother and siblings, Middle Sister finds it impossible to keep a secret or to be unnoticed. The story is set during The Troubles, so you know there will be some tragedy.
First, I found it interesting that none of the characters were named. They were identified by their relationships to one another or their occupation. This was a bit hard to keep track of, but once I got into the story, I was okay. Second, the story is not told in a linear fashion, so you have to pay attention. As I listened to this one, I found myself listening to some sections more than once to make sure I didn’t miss something or misunderstand what had been said. This wasn’t a fast, action packed story, but one of tension, and expectancy. I really liked the character of Middle Sister, who was the MC. She was smart, smart enough to know she wanted to stay unnoticed, smart enough to know she wanted out, smart enough to know education was to be her escape. She was caring, especially with her younger siblings and sensitive. When I finished, I was glad I read this one, but am not sure what I thought overall. The writing was beautiful, descriptive and thought provoking. All I can say is if a book dealing with women, Ireland, community and how it felt to live during The Troubles, then pick this one up. The narration by Brid Brennan was well done. I had to listen carefully due to the accents, but it was an enjoyable listening experience.