Waking up in hospital, all memory erased like a computer restored to factory settings, Amalia enters a bizarre world where nothing is normal, and everything is experienced as if for the first time.
Assured by doctors her memory will return she goes home with her husband and two children, Sammie and Mattie, and with support from her parents tries to get on with her life.
But she struggles to find her way back into their lives, causing stress and chaos for everyone. A world of fantasy and magic enables Amalia to cope with daily living and of course her children find living in a fantasy world more exciting.
‘Sammie jumps off my lap purposefully and trots off to get some books, just like on that first day so many moons ago. “This is how we do it,” he tells me, getting on my knee and pretending it’s a horse, while we read the books. He opens the first page. Where does the horse live? We always used to do this apparently, before school, kindy and all those interferences came along. I wish I could remember.’
Ocean of Milk is the first novel written by Auckland based Belinda Aycrigg where she is involved at the Auckland Hare Krishna school at a leadership level, having lived in a Hare Krishna temple and subscribed to the Vaisnava philosophy since then.
Aycrigg says ‘People often associate Hare Krishnas with tambourines and robes and struggle to get past that image to the deeper philosophy behind it, which is so totally opposed to the current prevailing paradigm of materialistic acquisition’.
She says she has tried to portray that in the novel but believes Amalia spends most of her time in search of herself and being pressured to conform by different worldviews she encounters.
I found it an interesting but challenging read as the fantasy takes the characters to a very high intense level far away from modern living. There are some fascinating aspects to the story with Amalia and her husband unconventionally parenting two boys with quirky personalities.
The cover design is absolutely fitting to the spellbinding journey the reader is about to encounter and Aycrigg’s crisp writing style and use of short sentences keeps up the intensity of the plot. ‘I hesitate. I’m not sure what she means. Is this about getting back some semblance of normality? Might running out of the room be a false move?’
A great summer read it will appeal to anyone who is searching to find a fulfilling pathway in today’s world and I hope we see more writing from Belinda Aycrigg.
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
Ocean of Milk
by Belinda Aycrigg
Published by 99% Press