cover:Who was John Smith? What was the mystery surrounding his past? Why did he elect to live alone in the bush and listen to the silence? These were the questions the outraged members of the Hurlingford clan asked when John Smith came to town and stole the valley out from under their self-important noses. He would have to go! said the third Sir William. What was all the fuss about? asked Alicia the clan belle, too busy planning her wedding to appreciate the ominous rumblings of change that seemed to follow in the stranger's wake.But to no one did the enigmatic John Smith come to matter as he did to the youngest of the three ladies who lived in the house called Missalonghi.Missy Wright's existence could hold no surprises, for it stretched as drearily predictable in front of her as it did behind. Like the mother and the maiden aunt who lived with her, Missy was just another of the Hurlingford clan's manless women - bullied, pitied, exploited, patronised, utterly unimportant in the scheme of things.No sensible mentor would have dreamed of advising Missy to look in the pages of a romantic novel for the answers to her plight. But luckily Missy's mentor was a librarian with a taste for purple prose passion and a scandalous past who understood that beneath Missy's drab exterior there beat the heart of a charming and adventurous woman.The time is just before the outbreak of the Great War, the place a small town in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia, and the story is Colleen McCullough at her warmest and most light-hearted. On one level The Ladies of Missalonghi is a classic fairytale, on the other it is a wickedly accurate picture of life in a place where men may dominate, but women rule.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------I loved this novella. It was so lovely to see the poor & downtrodden Hurlingford ladies get out from under the grinding thumb of wealthy, cheating Hurlingford men. It is a bit of a fairytale, but it's also very witty. I can see that patriarchal family in small town Byron in the mountains, & feel the dreariness & tedium of the ladies' poverty, and I can hear the sounds of the mountain bushland - bellbirds, magpies & mist. It was enjoyable to see Una provoke Missy to change. It's a real gem of a book & I would like to read it again some day.I read it just a few days before Colleen died, and I didn't even know she was ill. I loved the Blue Mountains setting. http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/5...
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