The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough

This book is for the days when you feel you have read everything. No plot, no character seems to hold your attention and you keep on impatiently hopping from book to book. At such a time… read The Ladies of Missalonghi. Colleen McCullogh’s writing flows along gently and almost before you know it, you are hooked. Another of her books, The Thorn Birds is more critically acclaimed. Now, I have read them both and I much prefer this one. I must have read it atleast ten times.

Nothing really spectacular happens in the book. The heroine of the book, a thirty three year old spinster called Missy is somebody you would never give a second glance to. She is plain, dark and always attired in brown, poor but respectable. She lives with her overbearing mother and aunt in a house called Missalonghi. Incidentally that is her name! The three ladies live an extremely dull and uneventful life. Our Missy yearns to have a life, to go out alone and walk in the “valley”, to own a cat, to get married. 

And then along comes Una, a spirited, gorgeous widow who minds the library owned by one of Missy’s distant aunts. She lends Missy love stories wrapped in brown paper. Because even at thirty three Missy is not allowed to read that kind of books. Talk about stagnation! The two become fast friends. Una’s sparkling personality rubs off on dull, brown Missy. She tricks John Smith, the man she adores, into marrying her. She sheds her brown uniform and attires herself in sparkly, indecent red, like one of those scarlet women of Caroline Lamb Palace. She gives her wealthy, snobbish relatives who frankly never even knew she existed a piece of her mind sending the ladies into hysterics! She dyes Alicia’s (the clans darling young lady who is incidentally the same age as Missy) gorgeous hand me down apricot dress brown and she does it with cowdung 🙂 Go Missy! This book is a real gem. And it has a startling climax. Want to know what? Read the book…NOW!!!

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