Today I was chatting with one of my book reps about what we were reading. She mentioned she would like to read McCullough’s new book, Bittersweet as she preferred her earlier works and this seemed more in line with the those books.
I tentatively agreed as my experiences with McCullough had not necessarily been rave ones.
I read Thorn Birds and Tim about the time they were both made into movies/TV series and I was probably too young to really enjoy them for anything more than the naughty sex scenes! I enjoyed the beginning of her Roman series, but got tired of it about half way through and never finished it off. So I was feeling lukewarm about Bittersweet…until I suddenly remembered The Ladies of Missalonghi.
I blurted it out and my rep looked at me with delight and exclaimed, “I love that one too. I’ve never met anyone else who even knows about this book, let alone loves it too!”
It was published in 1987.
It’s set in the Blue Mountains in a little town called Byron just before WWI. It’s a slight, easy read that caught me by surprise at the time. I found it utterly delightful and charming for all its improbabilities and flaws. It became my “I’m bored” rainy Sunday afternoon read. I loved it!
I loved quiet, submissive Missy who learnt to stand up for herself. I loved the setting & the quiet build-up of tension and I loved the rather mixed up feminist messages on display.
Just talking about it again today makes me want to read it again – right now!
A quick google before posting this has revealed a whole new world though.
Apparently there were plagiarism accusations made against McCullough for this book because of its similarities to a lesser known L.M. Montgomery book called The Blue Castle. I even found a discussion page on the topic from 2008.
I’m sure I will always have a deep and abiding love for The Ladies of Missalonghi, but the temptation to check out The Blue Castle for myself is now lurking in the back of mind!