Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The Ladies of Missalonghi
By Colleen McCullough
Missy lives with her mother and aunt. Due to Missy's dad dying young and leaving them unprovided for, all they have ever known is poverty. Missy has grown up to be a shy, thin, submissive woman, ground down by poverty.
In the back country town in which they live in Australia, a relative of theirs is planning a grand wedding to the young heir of a large fortune based on the local bottled water business. As relatives of this family business, Missy and her mom and aunt have shares in the business, shares for which they have never received any dividends, having been repeatedly told that the bottling company is not making any money. And yet the largest shareholders live in wealth and privilege.
Missy likes to read but her mother has asked the local librarian to restrict her daughter's reading materials to worthy and uplifting books. And even though Missy is now a grown woman no longer in her first youth, she accepts these limitations. But now there is a new librarian and she introduces Missy to romance novels in which winsome young women have exciting adventures in the pursuit of true love. These novels give poor downtrodden Missy a glimpse at a different way of life than the one she has always known and she starts to think for herself.
Invited to a party at the engaged woman's house, Missy overhears the woman and her friend sneering not only at Missy but at her mom and her aunt too. When the woman sends her a dress to wear to the wedding because Missy doesn't have anything nice to wear, Missy, in anger, dumps the dress into the pigsty and, after it is all dirty and mucky, she takes it back to the woman.
Also, there is an intriguing new man in town, and unlikely as it may be, skinny, old-maid Missy has decided that he is the man for her. And she is going to do her best to get him even if she has to stalk him, lie to him and trick him. Because Missy is thinking for finally herself, with the help of a few trashy novels and her new librarian friend.
This was a pretty good story. There were things about it that I didn't care for or even approve of but to go into detail would give away too much of the plot. It starts out as ordinary fiction but in the end it turns into a kind of fantasy. Overall I liked it but with reservations.