This story is set at the Wright family’s small homestead Missalonghi, in the town of Byron in Australia’s Blue Mountains. Missy Wright is the stereotypical spinster daughter in this tale from the author of the Thorn Birds. Plain and shy, she cowers in the shadows of her pretty cousin Alicia and her domineering mother Drusilla. But it’s the 20th century and time for brave new thoughts and actions. Missy Wright is done with her wallflower days and is ready to change things for the better, no matter what anyone else might think. With the help of the beautiful, mysterious new librarian she sets her sights on an unsuspecting newcomer who just might be her prince charming.
Sissy: This is one of my favorite books of all time. I’m not sure why but it could be because I always love witty, bantering women. It could be because I love a fairy tale ending. It could be because I cheer when good women triumph over evil men (or just plain good triumphing over evil, period.) Maybe it’s the bit of magic or the touch of paranormal that is necessary in every good fairy tale. Whatever it is, I read it for the first time a million years ago and have read it many times since.
Bubby: So let me tell you about when Sissy introduced me to this book. At the time, we were attending a women’s book club together. We were each asked to bring our favorite book to one of the meetings. Sissy scandalized all these poor church ladies with her choice of The Ladies of Missalonghi. Just remembering it makes me laugh so hard I just snorted my Diet Coke out my nose and all over my shirt!
Sissy: What a bunch of prissy bottoms! (Sissy is wiping Coke spit off of her shoe as she speaks.) The book is as tame as rice pudding by today’s standards. Bubby, do you care to explain yourself?
Bubby: Yes, MOST of the book is perfectly appropriate. It’s just that one little bit – you remember, the part where she, well, you know, and she’s in the river and then what’s-his-name is there and she’s not quite deep enough and she’s showing some, well, bits and he tells her that if she stays much longer she won’t be a, um, “maiden” anymore? (Bubby is now blushing furiously.)
Sissy: Yes. Missy, who does not know any better, has this glorious moment when her heretofore unacclaimed flat chest becomes an object of interest. Yes, she should have married him before showing off her “nuptials” but there it is. Get over it, Bubby.
Bubby: You, madame, are just shameful. Shameful. That’s all there is to it. Actually it’s not that big of a deal. I just find it funny the way the incident is described, causing Sissy to become the outcast of the book club. I think they still refer to her as “that painted hussy.” I do appreciate this book, though. It is well written with a great storyline and plenty of surprises. My favorite moment is when Missy throws off the drab, outdated clothing that is all she’s ever been allowed to wear and steps out in a crimson red silk dress full of ruffles and embellishments. I’m gonna get me one of those red dresses some day.
Sissy: I have one. I wore it on Tuesday. With my tiara.
Bubby: (Looking at Sissy with a slightly alarmed expression) Oh, good. Did you take pictures so I can post them on Facebook?
Sissy: No. It was a private wearing.
Bubby: And there goes the rest of my Diet Coke. *Snort!*
Sissy: My favorite part of the book is the end. And what happens at the end, you ask? Let’s just say that the evil “suits” get what’s coming to them and the women reclaim their rightful place at the top of the food chain. I give it 5 bubbles just for nostalgia’s sake.
Bubby: Sometimes I think Sissy’s tiara is on too tight. Just saying. Or maybe she read this book during her “She-Woman Man-Haters” period. Not sure. Not sure I want to know. At any rate, it’s definitely worth reading. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (o.k., probably not), you’ll cheer for the women! But it’s not my all time favorite. 3 1/2 bubbles. Be sure to check back next Friday for MY pick on Friday Favorites!
Click HERE to buy The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough at Amazon.com
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© Bubble Bath Books 2012