The Ladies of Missalonghi, Colleen McCullough

Book Reviews English Historical Fiction

The three ladies of Missalonghi, Missy, her mom and her aunt, have always lived very poorly, having just enough to survive, cast away and suppressed by their rich family. 30-year-old Missy still knows nothing of the world, except what she read in books, and dreams of one day getting out of this town called Byron. One day a stranger turns up, and has bought Missy’s favorite valley. That’s when things start changing.

I started this book without knowing what to expect and with no particular interest in it, and during the first few pages I was still left clueless as to what kind of story it was. However, as soon as John Smith entered the plot, everything quickly got addictive. I instantly had an idea as to his role in the story and got impressed by Smith’s strength of character, for Colleen McCullough describes her personages well. Gradually, through the story, I eagerly witnessed how Missy, the main character, unwrapped her feelings out of the depths of her heart, and dreamed with her of dashing dresses and colorful landscapes. I shared her anger and frustration after insults, and her exhilaration after triumph.
Furthermore I got a good portrayal of the Byron society, of the injustice and huge difference between the rich and the poor, the men and unmarried women, which I frequently compared with my own surroundings, and stayed frustrated till the near end of the book, that none of the victims, including Missy, defended themselves against this bullying and abuse.
The plot was equally well designed. Most of the time I knew well enough what would happen, but I didn’t know how, nor in what order, and so Missy’s character kept my vision glued on these yellowish pages until they were spent. McCullough also left a little surprise at the end of the story, which gives it a little bit of poetry, uncertainty, maybe even confusion, charm and style, which I could never have guessed of in a hundred years. Thus I honestly got impressed by her subtlety and way of weaving words into a story.
Conclusion: This book has interesting characters, a not too original but still most enjoyable plot and a charming narration with elegant style.


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