Friday 4 October 2013

The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough

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!

I have reviewed this book for Flashback Friday hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies and in preparation for my hosting of AusReading Month in November.


  1. I love The Blue Castle - classic romantic weepy tubercular L.M.Montgomery. I hadn't heard about the plagiarism story, but if it is like The Blue Castle, I'm putting The Ladies of Missalonghi on my wishlist anyway!

  2. Anonymous5/10/13

    I love that you picked a Colleen McCullough book! In fact, one of my first Flashback Friday picks was Morgan's Run -- and my husband just finished reading The Thorn Birds this week, which I have really fond memories of. I remember hearing about The Ladies of Missalonghi, but haven't read it. Based on your description, I'll have to check it out! I never did end up reading Colleen McCullough's Rome books, although a coworker has raved about them for years. Great pick this week! :)


  3. I picked this book up at a book sale! This is the first time I've seen it mentioned at all. I'm looking forward to it. I also have Blue Castle!

    1. I'm curious to hear your review of both books and their similarities (or not).

  4. I've read most of McCullough's novels, but not this one! I'm going to have to change that now that I've read your review :-)

  5. Anonymous12/10/13

    I've never read this title by McCullough (only The Thorn Birds and The Independence of Miss Bennet) but this book sounds intriguing! Off to add this on GR =D

    (Btw, sorry for dropping by so late on your blog! I fell behind pretty badly from getting back to people last week because of midterms x_x)


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