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The Ladies of Missalonghi

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Sometimes fairy tales can come true--even for plain, shy spinsters like Missy Wright. Neither as pretty as cousin Alicia nor as domineering as mother Drusilla, she seems doomed to a quiet life of near poverty at Missalonghi, her family's pitifully small homestead in Australia's Blue Mountains. But it's a brand new century--the twentieth--a time for new thoughts and bold new actions. And Missy Wright is about to set every self-righteous tongue in the town of Byron wagging. Because she has just set her sights on a mysterious, mistrusted, and unsuspecting stranger... who just might be Prince Charming in disguise.

189 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Colleen McCullough

151 books2,467 followers
Colleen Margaretta McCullough was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and Tim.

Raised by her mother in Wellington and then Sydney, McCullough began writing stories at age 5. She flourished at Catholic schools and earned a physiology degree from the University of New South Wales in 1963. Planning become a doctor, she found that she had a violent allergy to hospital soap and turned instead to neurophysiology – the study of the nervous system's functions. She found jobs first in London and then at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

After her beloved younger brother Carl died in 1965 at age 25 while rescuing two drowning women in the waters off Crete, a shattered McCullough quit writing. She finally returned to her craft in 1974 with Tim, a critically acclaimed novel about the romance between a female executive and a younger, mentally disabled gardener. As always, the author proved her toughest critic: "Actually," she said, "it was an icky book, saccharine sweet."

A year later, while on a paltry $10,000 annual salary as a Yale researcher, McCullough – just "Col" to her friends – began work on the sprawling The Thorn Birds, about the lives and loves of three generations of an Australian family. Many of its details were drawn from her mother's family's experience as migrant workers, and one character, Dane, was based on brother Carl.

Though some reviews were scathing, millions of readers worldwide got caught up in her tales of doomed love and other natural calamities. The paperback rights sold for an astonishing $1.9 million.

In all, McCullough wrote 11 novels.

Source: http://www.people.com/article/colleen...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 554 reviews
Profile Image for Ryl.
54 reviews45 followers
January 31, 2009
I admit I knew this book was crap when I picked it up. I first heard about it in a discussion of L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle, a vastly superior book. The Ladies of Missalonghi is a complete and total rip-off of Montgomery's story (PLAGIARISM). The stories are exactly the same. A Victorian Old Maid (29 year-old Valancy in TBC, 33 year-old Missy in TLoM) lives a boring and restricted life with her widowed mother and maiden aunt. She wears a lot of brown. She has a more attractive cousin about the same age who will be married soon. She lives in a town populated mainly by her large clannish family. She is suffering from mysterious chest pains that may indicate a serious problem. She finds escape in books: Valancy prefers nature books while Missy revels in trashy romances. In fact, 99% of the plot of both novels is the same damn thing. But where The Blue Castle is a touching look at taking charge of your life and finding your dreams, Missalonghi is about lying and manipulation. Let us begin shredding.

Missy's only friend is Una, a clerk at the local lending library. Una is the one who got Missy hooked on trashy romances. She is also the spark that ignites Missy's independent streak. She tells Missy that the Mysterious New Guy in town is not an axe murderer or a jailbird as rumor has labeled him. Missy meets Mysterious New Guy (who goes by the "I have nothing to hide!" name of John Smith) by fainting in front of his driveway after a chest pain attack. He carries her home and gets the doctor for her. Because he is a) the only guy in town not related to her in some way and b) the only guy who's ever touched her, Missy decides to fall in love with him.

After this incident, Missy goes to her cousin Alicia's wedding shower. Alicia is beautiful, wealthy, and a right bitch. Missy ends up telling her cousin exactly what she thinks of her pink and white Barbie wedding plans and goes outside to have another chest pain attack. While she is recovering, she overhears Alicia and her other cousins talking smack about her and her brown dresses inside the house. Missy, insulted, decides to have nothing more to do with Miss Barbie Bride and goes home in a snit. Alicia later sends Missy an old out-of-style amber dress to wear at the wedding so she won't drab the affair up by wearing brown. Missy takes the dress out to the cow barn, stomps it into a pile of manure, wraps it up, and hands it back to Alicia.

Here is the only plot point not cribbed from The Blue Castle: When Missy brings the package over, she overhears Alicia's father, brothers, and fiancé discussing the recent stock buy-up at the bottling plant they run. Someone Mysterious is very close to owning over 50% of the company, which would take it out of the family's hands. The men decide they'll buy up the stocks owned by the widowed and unmarried women of the family at bargain basement prices so they can keep control of the company while the women stay poor. Missy, who happens to live with two of these poor, unmarried women, is quite miffed and storms over to the library to bitch about it to Una. Una tells Missy about Power of Attorney, how she can get it, and if she gets it that she can sell the stocks in Sydney for £10 a share. Missy gets the necessary forms and permission from her aunt, mother and two other poor cousins to sell their stocks. She and Una got to town the next day and take care of business, facilitated by the suddenly revealed fact that Una is conveniently a Justice of the Peace and thus can sign the Power of Attorney forms.

While she's in Sydney Missy visits A Specialist about her chest pain issue. The Specialist diagnoses a pinched nerve and cracks Missy's back which cures her completely. He then takes her in his office, tells her she needs to get laid, and walks out. While he's gone, Missy reads the letters on his desk and steals an old woman's diagnosis of heart trouble for nefarious purposes. She goes home, packs her bag, and goes down to John Smith's house.

"Hi," she says. "I only have a year to live. Here is a piece of paper on a doctor's letterhead that doesn't name names but really and for true gives me a diagnosis of Terrible Heart Problems. Will you marry me?"

"No," he says. "Go home."

Missy spends the night in the barn and goes back the next day.

"Hi," she says. "I really honestly do only have a year to live. Will you marry me?"

"Okay," he says.

They plan the wedding for the next day. Missy says she ain't going home until she's hitched. John informs her that "the honeymoon may begin early" if she stays. She says that's fine by her. The doctor did tell her to get laid, after all. John Smith then shows the reader what a great guy he is as he imagines how he will de-virginize her. He wouldn't be too rough, he'd just "rape her a little." Just enough to get the job done but not enough to make him a Bad Guy or anything. How thoughtful.

After a completely unnecessary sex scene, they go to sleep and don't wake up until the next morning. They go down to the bathing spring where they have another completely unnecessary sex scene, get dressed, and head to Sydney separately. Missy first goes to the library to invite Una to the wedding but Una says she can't go. She has a present: the scarlet lace dress and hat that Missy's always dreamed of. Missy is thrilled to have something that is not brown to wear so she immediately puts it on and hops a train to Sydney. She and John Smith get married. On the way home John tells Missy about his bitter first marriage. Missy doesn't care. John likes that. "Every time you open your mouth and your legs I like you more," he says.

Now I am by no means a prude. I am on a first name basis with all the major profanities and innuendos. However, I thought that John Smith was being unnecessarily vulgar there.

The newly married couple go home, go to bed, and don't get up until the next morning when John Smith dresses in a nice suit (he got married in his grubby work clothes) and goes to the village for an important meeting. Missy goes to her old home.

"I've been where you think I've been doing what you think I've been doing. Now I'm married," she says.

"Shameless hussy," they say. "We've missed you. Let's get dressed up and go to the village to have tea."

So they do. They and the other women who let Missy sell their stocks have tea and discuss their newfound financial security. Then John shows up looking all smug. "Surprise! I'm the guy who was buying up all the stock in the bottling plant!"

"No shit," says the reader. "I figured that out fifty pages ago."

"I did it because I used to be married to a member of your family," John continues. "She was a right bitch and I hated her, so after she drowned I decided to wreak my revenge on the rest of you. That's why I bought up that valley and all the stocks. But now that I've married Missy and met the poor members of the family I love you and I will help you in any way I can. But the rich side of the family can go hang. By the way, Alicia ran away with her fiancé's chauffeur last night so you get the last laugh, Missy."

"Ha ha," says Missy.

Then she looks over at the back door of the tea shop where she sees Una. This is the point where I chose to move beyond merely throwing the book across the room into actively destroying it.

"Hi Missy," says Una. "I'm actually a ghost. I was John Smith's first wife. That's why I kept throwing you two together. I choose not to acknowledge that the sudden realization that I've been dead for twenty years causes the reader to go into a deep existential crisis trying to figure out how I gave you all those romance novels without the head librarian noticing or how I gave you that dress or, most importantly, how my signature was recognized as valid on those Power of Attorney forms. I'm going to heaven now. Bye!"

"What," says the reader in a low, dangerous voice.

"By the way," Una whispers, "don't tell your husband you lied about your health to get him to marry you. Let him think that his love has cured you of your surely very fatal fake heart problem. This is Victorian times so nobody knows much about how hearts work anyway."

"I HATE YOU LADIES OF MISSALONGHI!" snarls the reader, hurling the book across the room with great force.

And that is why that book is currently under the back tire of my car where I can drive over it every day until it falls apart.

No, I'm not kidding.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
August 5, 2020
The Ladies of Missalonghi, Colleen McCullough

The Ladies of Missalonghi is a short novel by Australian writer Colleen McCullough commissioned for the Hutchinson Novellas series and published in the United States in the Harper Short Novel series in 1987.

Set in the small town of Byron in the Blue Mountains of Australia in the years just before World War I, the novel is the story of Missy Wright and the Hurlingford family.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه آگوست سال 1994میلادی

عنوان: بانوان عمارت میسالونگی؛ نویسنده: کالین مک کالو؛ مترجم: طاهره صدیقیان؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، صدوق، 1372، در 223ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، روشنگران، 1388؛ در 184ص؛ شابک 9789641940289؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان استرالیایی - سده 20م

آنچه کتاب‌های «کالین مک کالو» را برجسته، و ژرف می‌سازد، اینست که نوشته‌ های ایشان، تنها جنبه ‌ی سرگرمی ندارند، بلکه در لابلای سطرهای آن هدفی والاتر نهفته است؛ تا آن را ارزشمندتر ‌سازد؛ در این کتاب نیز، ایشان «ستم و بیداد» را، با قلمی طنزآمیز برملا می‌سازند؛ و خوانشگر را بر علیه ستم برمی‌انگیزانند؛ نگرش مذهبی نویسنده به دنیا، و باور ایشان به رستاخیز نیز، بر رونق نوشته ‌های ایشان برمی‌افزاید، و آن را از بیشتر کتاب‌های امروزه‌ جدا می‌سازد؛ این رمان کوچک، همچون کتاب «مرغ خار (پرنده خارزار)»، خوانشگر را تا پایان به دنبال خود می‌کشاند، و تجربه ‌ای شور‌انگیز، بر دامان او میگزارد؛ رویدادهای داستان، در آغازین سالهای سده ی بیستم میلادی، در شهر کوچک «بایرون»، در دامنه‌ ی کوهستان آبی «استرالیا» رخ می‌دهند؛ قهرمان داستان «میسی رایت»، دختری نادار، و در خانه مانده‌ ی سی و سه ساله ‌ای است، از خانواده‌ ی «هرلینگ‌فورد» که بر شهر فرمانفرمایی می‌کنند؛ «میسی» همراه با مادر بیوه، و خاله‌ ی بیمارش، آبرومندانه زندگی می‌کنند، در حالی‌که قربانی سیاست ارث ‌گذاری «هرلینگ‌فورد»ها هستند، که ثروت را، در اختیار اعضای مرد خانواده، قرار می‌دهند؛ و آن‌ها نیز با بی‌رحمی به زنان تحت سلطه‌ ی خود ستم می‌کنند؛ «میسی»، دختر زشت‌رو و استخوانی، ـ که همیشه محکوم به پوشیدن لباس‌های قهوه ‌ای است ـ به نظر می‌رسد، که آینده‌ ای هولناک، در انتظار خویش دارد.؛ تا این‌که خویشاوندی دور، زنی مطلّقه، از «سیدنی» از راه می‌رسد...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 14/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Paula Mota.
930 reviews277 followers
September 4, 2022

Da primeira leitura de “As Senhoras de Missalonghi” não me lembro rigorosamente de nada além de que o devorei numa longa viagem de comboio. O meu “eu” de 23 anos não tinha mau gosto, mas não possuía o detector de incongruências tão afinado como agora, e é apenas por isso que este livro acabou por ser decepcionante.
Tendo como cenário uma pequena comunidade na Austrália do início do século XX, Colleen McCullough mostra como o injusto direito sucessório penalizava as mulheres que, não sendo casadas, pouco ou nada herdavam dos pais e tinham de depender da boa vontade e da caridade dos irmãos. Em Byron, Missy, morena e com apenas 1,82m numa família de gigantes louros, sempre vestida de castanho, a viver num quarto em tons de castanho, mora com a mãe e a tia, sem perspectivas de uma vida diferente.

No 30º aniversário de Missy, a mãe anunciara que ela poderia passar a usar um tijolo quente durante o tempo frio, uma vez que já não estava no esplendor da juventude. E quando isso aconteceu, apesar de bem-vindo, Missy abandonou para sempre a esperança, que alguma vez pudesse ter tido, de usufruir uma vida sua, fora dos confins de Missalonghi.

A sua única distracção são os livros, sobretudo os romances e, quando chega um novo habitantes às redondezas, por quem se perde de amores, todos os seus sonhos românticos ganham asas.

Por que razão é que preferia ter um problema de coração em vez de um nervo da espinha torcido?
Essa era uma questão que Missy não tencionava responder em voz alta: como era possível morrer-se nos braços de John Smith com um nervo de espinha torcido? Era tão romântico como ter borbulhas.

Missy é uma personagem magnífica que passa de mosquinha morta a alguém que sabe defender-se de quem a ofende e humilha, em tiradas extremamente divertidas...

- Missy, é uma pena que sejas tão morena e tão baixa – disse ela amavelmente -, eu gostava de te ter convidado, mas tens de compreender que ias destoar como dama de honor.
- Bem, eu penso que é uma pena que tu não sejas morena e baixa – respondeu-lhe Missy, igualmente amável. – Com todas à tua volta da mesma altura e nos mesmos tons, e toda essa gradação de cor-de-rosa, tu vais é desaparecer no papel de parede.

...mas Colleen McCullough achou com certeza que uma história de autodescoberta e determinação não era suficientemente complexa e juntou-lhe uma pitada de sobrenatural. Essa componente bem explorada poderia até ter o seu charme, mas optando pela via mais fácil, a do disparate, a autora expôs uma trama mal delineada e revelou uma enorme preguiça mental.
Profile Image for Laura Tenfingers.
558 reviews88 followers
October 12, 2022
Wow! So much hate for such a wonderful book! I was blown away!

I went into this book blind and loved every second of it. When I finished it and went to the book's GR page, I found a fair number of scathing reviews. Turns out people accuse McCullough of plagiarizing this book. How do we know she didn't write it in tribute to The Blue Castle? I don't know. But McCullough isn't some backwater upstart without ideas of her own. Plagiarism seems unlikely given her fantastic bibliography.

Off to read The Blue Castle and I guess do some digging. But I highly recommend this book set in rural early 20th century Australia. Beautifully done.
Profile Image for Ghazaleh.
159 reviews105 followers
October 14, 2017
رمانِ زردِ ایرانی طور :|
از صفحه دوم به بعد میدونی داستان چیه و چه اتفاقی قراره بیفته :|
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,028 reviews2,630 followers
July 19, 2016

The Hurlingford family had owned the town of Byron in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for generations; the Byron Bottle Company was the mainstay of the town, owned and run by the Hurlingford men. But some of the women of the town were destined to be poor and impoverished – treated badly by the men, and without men of their own, they struggled; but with immense strength of character.

Missy Wright lived at Missalonghi with her mother Drusilla and aunt Octavia – thirty three years of age, Missy was quiet, submissive and noticed by no one. But when Missy met the divorced Una in the town’s library, her life slowly began to change as Una smuggled her novels filled with romance and fresh ideas, instead of the usual non-fiction “helpful” books her mother made sure she read…

John Smith was a stranger to the town – tongues wagged at his presumed past. But he was a kind man and when Missy encountered him, she was impressed despite herself. As Missy discovered a determination and strength she hadn’t known she possessed, the town of Byron was aghast – none more so than her cousin Alicia. What was it that was going to turn the town on its head? Would Missy have the last laugh?

What an absolutely delightful little book The Ladies of Missalonghi turned out to be! Aussie author Colleen McCullough had a definite way with words, and I thoroughly enjoyed Missy’s growth, along with her mother, aunt and other spinster ladies in town. An absolutely wonderful historical fiction book which I highly recommend, and I also thank my Goodreads friend for her recommendation.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,075 reviews104 followers
June 27, 2021
Well, I do realise that authors have over the millennia been inspired and influenced by the writing, by the oeuvre of others, by those who went before. And therefore, I am usually also pretty much careful and prudent with regard to labeling something as plagiarism, and tend to actually not have major reading issues with very mild similarities, or if a given piece of writing is in fact meant to be a deliberate homage (but of course, provided that this is also clearly stated). However, if those same similarities start to become too obvious and too massive (and if the author in question does not deem it necessary to mention that his or her novel that his or her book is meant to be a specific and on purpose imitation), I then do tend to draw the proverbial line and to both accuse the author in question of active and unacceptable plagiarism and to usually also and with major anger and frustration abandon what I am reading.

And this absolutely precisely and very much is what has transpired for me with regard to Colleen McCullough’s 1987 historical fiction novel The Ladies of Missalonghi (which I read or rather which I was attempting to read on Open Library). For while I had heard rumours that McCullough had basically simply plagiarised her story from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1926 novel The Blue Castle (except that she has changed the locality from Canada to Australia, featured different names and added a bit of erotica and sex into her narrative), I was wondering if my reaction would be as negative as that of my GR friends Mir and Abigail and whether I would like them consider The Ladies of Missalonghi a total carbon copy of The Blue Castle and Colleen McCullough thus a major plagiarist of Lucy Maud Montgomery. But indeed, after only about thirty or so pages of reading The Ladies of Missalonghi| my wondering has become a definite “this most certainly is a huge and unacceptable case of definite academic dishonesty” and quite frankly, I have way too many books waiting and needing to be read that I have very gladly abandoned The Ladies of Missalonghi and do label Colleen McCullough a plagiarist of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s The Blue Castle (since in my opinion, both stories are just too akin and alike for this to be considered as a coincidence and Colleen McCullough also never once acknowledges Lucy Maud Montgomery’ influence, so there is also no reason to assume that The Ladies of Missalonghi is somehow supposed to be approached as an Australian themed homage to The Blue Castle and to Lucy Maud Montgomery as an author).
Profile Image for Jülie ☼♄ .
481 reviews22 followers
March 3, 2015

What a thoroughly enjoyable read this was..
Set in The Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia, in the time just before the outbreak of the Great War, the story revolves around a small town community made up almost entirely of various branches of the same family line...the Hurlingfords.
A bit of scandal, a bit of snobbery, a few old maids and spinsters, and a bit of romance, make this an easy and entertaining read.

Profile Image for Melindam.
612 reviews268 followers
July 13, 2022
Quite an enjoyable Australian tribute to L. M. Montgomery's novel, The Blue Castle, but not on par with the original.

Also, I was baffled by one of the plot "twists" . I think it was absolutely unnecessary and spoilt the book somewhat for me.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,666 reviews440 followers
April 29, 2017
Thirty-three-year-old Missy lives with her impoverished widowed mother and crippled aunt on the edge of the town of Byron. The town was founded by Missy's great-grandfather Hurlingford, and their system of inheritance favors the males in the family. Missy is considered a plain spinster always dressed in drab brown dresses. Then a new librarian introduces her to romantic novels, and Missy longs for romance and a more exciting life. When handsome John Smith buys property nearby, Missy thinks he may be the answer to her dreams.

The beginning of this short novel is fun and filled with social satire. But it disintegrates with a silly feud between Missy and her cousin, and a relationship based on lies between John and Missy. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3 stars.
Profile Image for Ana.
441 reviews51 followers
May 6, 2020
Adorei a garra de Missy, uma mulher que com os seus 30 e tal anos, resolve tomar as rédeas do seu destino e lutar por aquilo que entende como felicidade.
Criada numa pequena localidade que é governada por pessoas da sua família, sempre foi discriminada por descender da parte feminina da família. Mas Missy é determinada e as suas acções vão colocar em causa esta organização social há muito instituída.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,088 reviews181 followers
January 5, 2020
One of the worst cases of plagiarism it has been my misfortune to stumble across, Colleen McCullough's The Ladies of Missalonghi reads like an Australianized version of L.M. Montgomery's Canadian classic, The Blue Castle . Lest my fellow readers think that I am overzealous in defending the honor of a book that I freely acknowledge as one of the recurring pleasures of my adolescence, I will offer a point-by-point comparison...

The Blue Castle :

Valancy Stirling, spinster, lives with her mother and her Cousin Stickles...

Part of the Stirlings, a large extended clan that founded & dominates the town of Deerwood...

As poor relations, they must scrape by the best they can,
and Valancy is pitied for being an undesirable Old Maid...

Valancy's secret "guilty" pleasure: Nature Books from the local library...

Valancy suffers from mysterious and recurring pain in her chest...

Rakish outsider named Barney Snaith appears in town, is thought to be an "escaped convict..."

B.S. has a history of being ill-used by his lady love...

Valancy eventually rebels against the stricture of her joyless life, leaves her mother's house, and marries B.S., all while believing herself to be dying...

The Ladies of Missalonghi:

Missy Wright, spinster, lives with her mother and her Aunt Olivia...

Part of the Hurlingfords, a large extended clan that founded and dominates the town of Byron...

As poor relations, they scrape by the best they can, and Missy is pitied for being a plain Old Maid...

Missy's "guilty" pleasure: reading romantic novels from the lending library...

Missy suffers from a mysterious and recurring pain in her side...

Rakish outsider named John Smith appears in town, is thought to be a "jailbird..."

J.S. has a history of being ill-used by his lady love...

Missy eventually rebels against the constraints of her "starved" life, leaves her mother's house, and marries J.S., all while pretending to be dying...

I could go on (there are PLENTY of other examples), but I think the reader takes my point?

McCullough does manage to do a FEW things differently from Montgomery, cutting out the entire sub-plot of the sick friend that the heroine (Valancy) nurses, despite the social stigma of associating with a "fallen" woman. Worthy deeds are apparently more Montgomery's stock-in-trade, whereas McCullough contents herself by "sexing" things up a bit, with a few throwaway lines that the heroine herself doesn't really understand. What's so funny, she wonders, about referring to a young man as "limp?" Also notable is the moment when John Smith considers roughing Missy up a bit in bed, "not rape her exactly, just force her a little"(149), in order to dissuade her from marriage. What could be more appealing in a romantic hero, especially one modeled on my beloved Barney Snaith...?

Somebody, please pass me a blowtorch...
Profile Image for Maria João (A Biblioteca da João).
1,104 reviews169 followers
March 28, 2020
9 de 10*

Foram já várias as pessoas que me recomendaram Colleen McCullough, mas confesso que este “As Senhoras de Missalonghi” representou a minha estreia com a autora. E que bela estreia! Gostei tanto destas Senhoras e desta história! A cereja no topo do bolo foi o final que não estava, de todo à espera.

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Profile Image for Hannah.
794 reviews
October 12, 2009
Sooooo, as a 100% positive "The Blue Castle" rip-off (how could McCullough dare?), I still enjoyed "The Ladies of Missalonghi", but only as I might enjoy the much less attractive and significantly less appealing younger brother of my older, wildly attractive ideal man; the appeal lies in the faint similarities, but the sloppy seconds aren't nearly as satisfying as the real thing!

Really, not a bad short story all in all, but it doens't hold a candle to L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle.
Profile Image for Georgiana 1792.
1,805 reviews106 followers
March 8, 2021
Ho letto questo libro con grandissimo gusto, anche perché probabilmente sono una persona diversa da quella che l'aveva letto molti anni fa (tanto da non ricordare praticamente nulla!)
Si tratta di un romance, nulla di più, nulla di meno, ma si tratta anche del riscatto delle donne nei primi anni del Novecento in una cittadina (fittizia) - in cui vige una società strettamente imparentata e patriarcale - dell'interno dell'Australia, Byron, con delle regole che relegano le donne non sposate o vedove a una situazione di povertà inaccettabile, quando si pensa che i loro fratelli si arricchiscono sfruttando il territorio (imbottigliando l'acqua curativa prodotta dalle sorgenti lì vicino e con il turismo termale) e non degnandosi neanche di pagare i dividendi delle poche azioni che le donne possiedono.
La "rivoluzione" viene operata dalla giovane "zitella" Missy Wright, che appartiene alla prestigiosa famiglia Hurlingford in quanto figlia della vedova Drusilla Hurlingford Wright, ma ben diversa dalle bellezze bionde e giunoniche che sembrano fatte con lo stampino della suddetta famiglia. Missy ha i capelli scuri e la pelle olivastra, e un'altezza che sarebbe considerata media in qualunque altro luogo, che risulta però molto bassa accanto alle Hurlingford, che superano tutte il metro e settantacinque!
A questo mondo le Alicie potevano elaborare progetti e tramare complotti per approdare al loro scopo. Alle Missy non era concesso. Le Missy non la sapevano abbastanza lunga sugli uomini, e il poco che ne sapevano rimaneva nel reame del generico. Gli uomini per loro erano intoccabili, tutti, senza esclusione, compresi gli ex carcerati. Tutti gli uomini godevano di potere, di libertà, di privilegi, di facoltà di scelta.
La sua carnagione la costringe a vestire sempre di marrone, perché qualunque altro colore le starebbe male, mentre il rosso è considerato adatto solo alle prostitute.
Missy non aveva mai avuto un abito che non fosse marrone. Era un colore così vantaggioso: lo sporco non si notava, non scoloriva, non passava mai di moda, non era mai sciatto, banale, volgare.
La ribellione di Missy nasce quando in città arriva un misterioso John Smith, su cui tutti spettegolano, ma di cui non sanno nulla. La ragazza prende da tempo nella biblioteca circolante dei romanzi considerati da quattro soldi e poco adatti a una giovane nubile. Drusilla, che anni prima aveva vietato alla figlia di leggerli, ora che ha trentatré anni non se la sente di impedirle di vivere una vita per lo meno surrogata attraverso i romanzi, e finge di non conoscere il suo piccolo "peccatuccio".
È la sua amica Una - una parente povera e disconosciuta da tutti perché divorziata - a consigliarle le letture e a darle suggerimenti anche riguardo alla sua vita.
E la "povera" Missy, compatita da tutti e considerata il brutto anatroccolo della città, trova in sé stessa la forza per dare una svolta alla propria vita.
Le vicende di Missy sono impreziosite dalle descrizioni mozzafiato di un'Australia priva da ogni contaminazione umana.
Nelle mattine invernali, una nube candida e lucente colmava la vallata, simile a latte turbinante, sotto il limitare superiore del crinale; poi, di colpo, non appena il calore del sole aumentava, quella nuvola si sollevava e in un batter d'occhio si dissolveva e spariva. A volte la nube calava dall’alto, e le cime degli alberi spuntavano come dita divaricate, fino a quando riusciva a sottrarle alla vista, occultandole sotto una coltre spettrale. Per contro, all’approssimarsi del tramonto, d’inverno come d’estate, le rocce cominciavano ad assumere colorazioni più calde, più intense: prima rosa acceso, poi cremisi, poi un viola che più tardi si spegneva nell’indaco misterioso della notte. Ma ancora più strabiliante era lo spettacolo raramente offerto dalla neve, allorché tutti i dirupi, tutte le sporgenze delle pareti rocciose si fregiavano di un candido profilo che ne esaltava l’aspetto, e gli alberi fronzuti, mossi dal vento, scuotevano la loro cipria di gelido umidore con la stessa rapidità con la quale cadeva su di loro, insofferenti a quel tocco estraneo.
Profile Image for Sally906.
1,364 reviews3 followers
March 27, 2015
Set in The Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia, in the time just before the outbreak of the Great War, the story revolves around a small town community, Missalonghi, made up almost entirely of various branches of the same family line - the Hurlingfords. Missy Wright's mother, Drusilla, has been shunned by her family since she married for love, not money. Now widowed, she lives an impoverished life with her sister and daughter Missy. Plain, thin and doomed to wear brown, it seems Missy's life is set to follow that of her mother and aunt. Their lifestyle is pretty typical of the day as it was quite common for widows, sisters and unmarried daughters to live together – especially later after the Great War when there was such a shortage of men. There are a few other poor single Hurlingford ladies and they all have to count their pennies while the men in the family, all wealthy and powerful, totally dominate all businesses and control the finances - never seeming to spare money for their poorer relatives.

When Missy’s rich cousin announces she is to marry a much younger but well-heeled man, Missy fears that a home and family of her own has passed her by. Then she meets a stranger named John in her uncle’s shop – a man who has bought up a whole heap of land from under the noses of the controlling Hurlingford men and has them all very worried. Egged on by the new librarian Una (who gives the whole plot of the book away before she lends it out) Missy sees a chance to turn her life around. It does involve being a bit deceitful but it is not in malice. But a girl has to take a chance. Just who John Smith is, and what he is up to, along with Missy trying to get him as a husband makes the basis of this lovely little story.

THE LADIES OF MISSALONGHI is a small book but the fact that it is packed full of scandal, friendship, gentle romance, laughter and good old-fashioned satisfying revenge makes it an easy and entertaining read.
Profile Image for Sofialibrary.
252 reviews249 followers
April 13, 2020
Missy vive com a mãe e com a tia numa pequena cidade na Austrália onde só vivem praticamente familiares. Pertencem a uma família importante e rica mas que ao longo das gerações foi privilegiando apenas os filhos homens e não as mulheres. Apesar de pobres e com uma vida simples são as 3 bastante felizes.

A Missy é solteira e tem 30 anos e na sequência de alguns acontecimentos, sofre uma transformação na história e de discreta e resignada, revela-se rebelde, desafiadora, impetuosa, apaixonada, astuta e inteligente.

O livro tem menos de 200 páginas e tenho muita pena que as personagens não tenham sido muito mais desenvolvidas, acho que o livro tinha muito mais para dar e assim foi apenas uma rápida lição a uma família machista, poderosa e influente. O final, apesar de tudo, conseguiu ser surpreendente.
Profile Image for Sportyrod.
416 reviews11 followers
February 4, 2022
Such good bitchiness! I couldn’t get enough. McCullough has the best sense of humour. I was laughing in delight at the horrible, misfortune of others (which I hope what was intended by the author). A couple of snippets for you:

“However, the goodies were not wasted upon the pigs, for later on Drusilla and Octavia gobbled them up.”

“You hang onto the thought that every dog has its day, even bitches.”

As funny and amusing as the story was, it was also a powerful feminist one which I loved. It was set prior to WW1 in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney. I might use some references of other stories to help explain it. If you’ve seen Anne of Green Gables, Missy the main character is similar to that of Anne’s. There is a scene where she reaches a snapping point of being bullied and insulted and lashes out at the meanest/hottest/richest girl in town, in front of everyone. She storms outside in a huff and then hears the whole party bitching about her from the window. It is so mortifyingly good. I was bouncing on my chair clapping as it got worse and worse. A bitter feud follows. There is no turning back for Missy, who 30-ish and a maiden takes matters into her own hands, due to the encourament of a new friend. As with Anne of GG, this region is owned by a large family like the Pringles and they hold all the power. Especially the men. I won’t spoil it but there is some good strong, female character awesomeness that happens.

This is the second McCullough book I’ve read, after the famous Thornbirds. With the latter in mind I expected bleakness and long, drawn-out wide-scale suffering coming to every character in varying forms but this was not to be. I was constantly on edge waiting for things to fall apart but somehow this book was a little more upbeat (other than the meanness) so I was pleasantly surprised. I need to read more of her books now.
Profile Image for Fátima Linhares.
474 reviews73 followers
August 9, 2020
Missy, uma solteirona de 33 anos vive com a mãe, Drusilla e a tia Octavia em Missalonghi. Levam uma vida melancólica, insípida e desprovida de acontecimentos. O único prazer de Missy são os livros que vai trazendo da biblioteca.

O lado masculino da família de Missy, os Hurlingford, são abastados e têm os seus negócios, no entanto as muheres Hurlingford que não casaram são postas de lado e vivem uma vida honesta mas sem luxos, pois os homens aproveitam-se delas para ficarem ainda mais ricos, comprando o que elas vendem a preços que não são justos, mas elas não podem vender a mais ninguém pois ficaria mal se não o fizessem à família.

Mas isso está prestes a mudar quando John Smith (lembrei-me logo da Pocahontas) compra o vale perto da casa de Missalonghi. Missy trava conhecimento com o forasteiro e apaixona-se. Com essa paixão, Missy que até aí fora sempre submissa e sem força para impor as suas vontades, transforma-se.

Adorei esta história, pequena mas tão boa! Já tinha lido Pássaros Feridos quando era adolescente e foi uma história que me marcou. Esta não é tão impactante, mas é igualmente maravilhosa!

Gostei da evolução da Missy, da sua vida apagada até ao "grito do Ipiranga" e da emancipação das mulheres que desconheciam que andavam a ser enganadas e a passar necessidades por causa dos homens Hurlingford, que levaram uma bela lição.
Profile Image for Kim.
2,037 reviews
November 27, 2022
Setting: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia; early 20th century.
The tale is narrated by Missy Wright, a 33-year-old spinster who lives in relative poverty with her mother Drusilla and aunt Octavia on a small property near the town of Byron. All of the shops and businesses in Byron are owned and operated by members of the extended Hurlingford family, of which Missy, Drusilla and Octavia are poor relations. This is due to the patriarchy enforced over the generations, which has led to single women being disenfranchised and repeatedly disrespected by the male members of the family. Thus Missy and her family are required to sell all their surplus produce to the shops in Byron operated by the male Hurlingfords but at below market prices, thus maintaining their poverty.
Missy can see little to look forward to in her life - only the novels that she manages to borrow from the local library give her any semblance of joy. Until a distant cousin arrives in Byron, a woman whose philosophy encourages Missy to stand up for herself more...
This was a short but very entertaining novel, more so than I expected it to be at the beginning! The setting and characters were excellent and parts of the story had me chuckling to myself at times so overall I rated this one as 9/10.
Profile Image for Brona's Books.
514 reviews84 followers
November 19, 2017
Regular followers of my blog will already know how much I love The Ladies of Missalonghi. It's not only a deliciously light, confectionery offering of a book, it's also a murky story mired down in a controversy involving plagiarism and L. M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle.

Both novels can be seen as fairly classic examples of the romance genre - with a down trodden, plain heroine-to-be, a family that gets in her way/puts her down/hides her away, a mysterious, stranger hero-to-be, a misunderstanding that becomes the agent of change so that our 'to-be's' finally become fully fledged heroine and hero, in love and living happily ever after!

It has been suggested by some reviews I've read online, that McCullough's story is in fact a parody of the romance genre, but for a parody to work, there have to be clear signs for the reader to pick up on. Having read both books more than once, I couldn't find any evidence of parody or spoof, although McCullough does seem a little self-conscious at times.
Full review here - http://bronasbooks.blogspot.com.au/20...
Profile Image for Sara Jesus.
1,110 reviews104 followers
March 17, 2022
Tive uma certa dificuldade em gostar desta narrativa. Para além de ter um enredo muito semelhante ao "The blue castle", o seu final foi muito abrupto. Mas ao contrario "The blue castle", estas personagens não nos cativam e a sua protagonista torna-se numa personagem detestável ao longo do avançar da acção.

Missy sempre foi tratada como o "patinho feio" da família, vivendo na sombra da sua "perfeita" prima Alicia. Sonha encontrar um "príncipe encantado" tal como as heroínas dos seus livros românticos. Quando surge um homem misterioso na sua localidade, ela encontra a sua oportunidade de viver a vida que sempre sonhou.

Apesar de não ter me agradado o modo como a protagonista conquistou o seu "homem de sonho", gostei da família de Missy que no fim se tornaram mulheres independentes e deixam de ser marionetas nas mãos dos membros masculinos da família.
Profile Image for Megan.
392 reviews6 followers
March 10, 2021
I decided to read this based on reading somewhere that it was similar to 'The Blue Castle'. Apparently, 'similar' means, 'this-author-stole-the-idea-and-made-it-trashy-and-paranormal'. What really galls me is that the horrible plot twists were completely unnecessary. The first 3/4 of the book only had a couple of crude remarks made by side characters, then BAM! Suddenly, the main character decides she should behave like a heroine in the trash novels she's been reading and oh, BTW (now that you have skipped to the last page), the woman who has been encouraging her to 'rebel' has been dead for the last 20 years! Why, oh, why didn't I read the reviews on this very web-site first?!?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Danielle Reily.
188 reviews29 followers
July 15, 2011
This is a one of those books that just makes me happy. It takes less than an afternoon to read, and I know it almost by heart, but I love it!
Profile Image for Deborah Pickstone.
852 reviews91 followers
May 27, 2016
This is one of my favourite novels from CMcC. It was a first time read too! Just a little romance where the good win and the bad lose and our heroine gets her own idea of a perfect life to replace the poverty of yore. Short and delightfully written; a little gem!

I have been reading These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 and Sarah's Quilt either side of this and imagine my surprise and delight to see the author in an interview at the back refer to this novel as one of the books whose construction and prose inspired her to want to achieve something as good. She did. But that tells what a perfect little novel it actually is better than I have words for.
Profile Image for Priya.
235 reviews73 followers
November 30, 2016
Reading this book felt like being wrapped in a comfy old blanket, snuggled in a couch in front of the warm fireplace, sipping hot chocolate while it's gently snowing outside. Yeah.
Profile Image for Lulu Grace.
20 reviews1 follower
March 29, 2013
This is NOT AT ALL my type of book. And most of you will know Colleen McCullough for her book, The Thorn Birds. This book, I think is unlike most of her books which are very long and very saga drama like. This is a very simple story. Old fashioned. And lovely. I think the main character actually "swoons" at some point in the book and I just found it to be completely endearing. It deserves all five stars.

The owner of the used bookstore I frequent and have for years actually recommended this book to me and I was shocked. She is usually very en pointe with what to recommend because she's been witnessing my book purchases for years. I thought, no way. And she made me take it free of charge because she knew it would make me read it and return it soon as I could not wanting to her money. Well. I read it and went back and paid for it so I could keep it. It was a "lovely" story.

If you want a very innnocent simple story about a girl who falls in love this is it.
Profile Image for Willow Anne.
404 reviews81 followers
May 2, 2022
Well...that was interesting. I can't believe that my grandmother recommended it to me, because there were quite a few skip-able parts. 😳 And then the ending revelation about Una... I'm feeling very confused. Like did I read the wrong book or something?

But I guess I liked the rest of it well enough, the best part was definitely the little old ladies. They're the best.

Also I heard this was super similar to a book by L. M. Montgomery but cleaner, so maybe one day I'll read it.
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