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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Colleen McCullough will always be remembered for The Thorn Birds, which gave us the memorable TV series. Although she wrote other books, such as this short novel I don’t think any of the others gained her the attention and success of that one novel. This story, first published back in 1987 has had the problem that Colleen was accused of plagiarism as this is very similar to The Blue Castle, a novel from the Twenties, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It is ironic then that Montgomery’s novel is now more widely read than this book.

Set in Byron in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales in Australia, this story takes place before the First World War. It is really something that is a bit fanciful and too pat. Missy is in her thirties and lives with her mother and aunt in genteel poverty, all members of the Hurlingford clan. The town of Byron is owned by the Hurlingford family in the main, and there is a history of the women being downtrodden by their men folk, but with a new face in town, and the mysterious buying up of the family water bottling business, could things be about to change for everyone?

With some romance, a mystery that really isn’t as it is too obvious, a hint of the supernatural and other shenanigans this book is really way too short to really bring any drama or interest to the tale, which seems a bit of a rushed affair. It does pass a few hours and you may want to read this if you are into romance novels of the sillier kind, but don’t expect to be bowled over by this, or even remember what it is about once you have finished. This really falls into the romance dime novels of earlier years when everything was always so peachy by the end.
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on 19 May 2008
I love this book so much that I would never lend it to anyone, I would hate for it to be lost. Missy had such a bleak existance, but found love and happiness in the end. I have read this book so many times that I can dip into it, on any page and read the bits that suit my present mood. If I need to cry I read the bit about the kitten, it has me reaching for the tissues every time!
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on 7 June 2015
I first read this book when I was around 14 years old and really enjoyed it then. When I saw a kindle edition I was very pleases as I have always wanted to read this again! (My original copy has long since gone). The story's protagonist Missy Wright is a woman of 33 and unmarried which in the early 20th century was a fate worth than death. Coupled with the fact that she is dirt poor her life seems pretty meaningless for her. However through a combination of events she manages to seize the day and achieve her happily ever after which is all to the good. The reason for the 3 stars however is for a number of reasons. The first is the length of the book which is really short which doesn't give the author time to flesh out the characters which leaves them very 2 dimensional and you end up not really caring about them. This makes the whole plot line seem rushed and therefore makes it slightly farcical. The second reason is the way that the protagonist turns her life around. It seems very far fetched that by reading a few novels supplied to her incidentally by a ghost! that she would be able to throw off 33 years of submissive behaviour in a few weeks at most and convince a worldly hard bitten man of 50 to marry her. The third reason is that this book has been compared to another novel the Blue Castle and reading other reviews compelled me to purchase a copy of that novel to see if it was true and to my chagrin it was even to some of the dialogue!!! Nevertheless I still enjoyed the book but this is with a heavy dose of nostalgia. A good way to round off a Sunday afternoon when you are lazing on the couch after a mammoth roast dinner!!
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on 7 November 2015
This sweet, funny, moving story was hugely enjoyable. I borrowed my copy from the library, but I plan to buy it for myself. I have a tiny cottage and only keep books I know I'm going to re-read again and again. This is one of them. I guess it's a romance, and I don't usually like romances, but I loved this one. It was the humour and the magic that got me.

The tale is set in Australia in Victorian times (or thereabouts), in a small town. Industry and business swirl round one central family, and the men of that family rule everything - especially their female relations - with ruthless egotism.

The story starts on a dreary scene: Missy Wright living in genteel poverty with her mother and aunt. She's a darling, coping with her many burdens with kindness and good humour. Her future seems to offer more of the same and a slow decline into single old age. Then a cuckoo appears in the nest - a divorcee from Sydney - and all of a sudden Missy gets a glimpse of what life could be like - with a little courage.
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on 4 April 2015
Very well written, women who could do something about their situation and eventually make the ending a happy one. How they did it is the story of the "Ladies of Missalonghi"I would recommend this book to men as well as women because of the quality of its writing.
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on 9 March 2015
A lovely book. One of the first Colleen McCullough books I read, I have been waiting for it to come out on kindle. I have read it many times, but I still return to it. C.McCain I'll be a great loss.
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on 26 October 2004
I have to admit to buying this book because of its alleged parallels with "The Blue Castle" by L.M. Montgomery. It is impossible to deny the similarities of the storyline (which I was actually hoping for - I liked the Montgomery book very much), but the writing style was crude. I thought that story started reasonably well, but the ending was very badly written.
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on 22 September 2015
great stuff...love it...feminist frolic, full of fun, sharp comments, and useful thoughts...one small quibble...the cover has a blue dress and beige hat on it....in the book there are brown dresses, pink dresses, brown hats, an apricot-coloured dress and hat, and a memorable scarlet affair...but no blue dresses or beige hats...do the cover illustrators not read the books they are supposed to paint covers for? put the scarlet outfit on the next edition, please!
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on 26 April 2016
I have read many of Colleen McCulloughs novels. I found it a bit short. Just as I thought a second part would start is was finished also my kindle told me I had read only 75% of the book. The rest was taken up by promoting other books. I was disapointed. The story itself was alwright, but not gripping as many of her other novels are.
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on 18 August 2015
Really enjoyed this book I have always enjoyed Colleen McCulloughs books, i thought Missy was great, rather reminded me of gone with the wind, John smith was a bit of a Rhett Butler character , the descriptions people, clothes, and surroundings great
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