The Ladies of Missalonghi

The Ladies of Missalonghi

4.2 10
by Colleen McCullough
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Sometimes fairy toles can come true-even for plain,shy spinsters like Missy Wright. Neither as pretty as cousin Alicianor as domineering as mother Drusilla, she seems doomed to aquiet life of near poverty at Missalonghi, her family's pitifullysmall homestead in Australia's Blue Mountains. But It's a brandnew century-the twentieth-a time for new thoughts and boldnew

Overview

Sometimes fairy toles can come true-even for plain,shy spinsters like Missy Wright. Neither as pretty as cousin Alicianor as domineering as mother Drusilla, she seems doomed to aquiet life of near poverty at Missalonghi, her family's pitifullysmall homestead in Australia's Blue Mountains. But It's a brandnew century-the twentieth-a time for new thoughts and boldnew actions. And Missy Wright is about to set every self-righteous tongue in the town of Byron wagging. Because she hasjust set her sights on a mysterious, mistrusted and unsuspectingstranger ... who just might be Prince-Charming in disguise.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380704583
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/28/1988
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
511,383
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.48(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Can you tell me, Octavia, why our luck never seems to change for the better?" asked Mrs. Drusilla Wright of her sister, adding with a sigh,"We need a new roof."

Miss Octavia Hurlingford dropped, her hands into her lap, shook her head dolefully and echoed the sigh. "Oh, dear! Are you sure?"

"Denys is."

Since their nephew Denys Hurlingford ran the local ironmongery and had a thriving plumbing business as well, his word was law in such matters.

"How much will a new roof cost? Must it be a whole one? Couldn't we have the worst sheets replaced?"

"There isn't one sheet of iron worth keeping, Denys says, so we're looking at about fifty pounds, I'm afraid."

A gloomy silence fell, each sister cudgelling her brain in search of asource for the necessary funds. They were sitting side by side on a horse hair-stuffed sofa whose better days were so far in the past that noone remembered them. Mrs. Drusilla Wright was hemstitching pulled threads around the border of a linen cloth with microscopically fine,meticulous skill, and Miss Octavia Hurlingford was occupied with a crochet hook, the work dangling from it as exquisitely done as the hemstitching.

"We could use the fifty pounds Father put in the bank for me when I was born," offered the third occupant of the room, anxious to make amends for the fact that she saved not a penny of her egg and butter money. She was also working, sitting on a low stool producing lace from a tatting shuttle and a ball of ecru thread, her fingers moving with the complete efficiency of a task known so well it was sightless, mindless.

"Thank you, but no," said brusilla. And that was the end of the onlyconversation occurring during the two-hour work period of Friday afternoon, for not long afterwards the hall clock began to chime four. While the last vibrations still lingered in the air, all three ladies proceeded with the automatism of long custom to put away their handicrafts, Drusilla her sewing, Octavia her crocheting, and Missy her tatting. Each lady disposed of her work inside an identical grey flannel drawstring bag, after which each lady disposed of her bag inside a battered mahogany sideboard sitting beneath the window.

The routine never, never varied. At four o'clock the two-hour hand work session in the second-best parlour came to an end, and another two-hour session began, but of a different kind. Drusilla moved to the organ which was her only treasure and only pleasure, while Octavia and Missy moved to the kitchen, there to prepare the evening meal and finish offthe outside chores.

As they clustered in the door way like three hens unsure of the pecking order, it was easy to see that Drusilla and Octavia were sisters. Each was extremely tall and each had a long, bony, anaemically fair face; but where Drusilla. was sturdily large and muscular, Octavia was crabbed and diminished by a longstanding bone disease. Missy shared the height,though not so much of it, being a mere five feet seven to her aunt's five feet ten and her mother's six feet. Nothing else did she have in common, for she was as darkroom, anxious to make amends for the fact that she saved not a penny of her egg and butter money. She was also working, sitting on a low stool producing lace from a tatting shuttle and a ball of ecru thread, her fingers moving with the complete efficiency of a task known so well it was sightless, mindless.

"Thank you, but no," said brusilla.

And that was the end of the only conversation occurring during the two-hour work period of Friday afternoon, for not long after wards the hall clock began to chime four. While the last vibrations still lingered in the air, all three ladies proceeded with the automatism of long custom to put away their handicrafts, Drusilla her sewing, Octavia her crocheting, and Missy her tatting. Each lady disposed of her work inside an identical grey flannel drawstring bag, after which each lady disposed of her bag inside a battered mahogany sideboard sitting beneath the window.

The routine never, never varied. At four o'clock the two-hour hand work session in the second-best parlour came to an end, and another two-hour session began, but of a different kind. Drusilla moved to the organ which was her only treasure and only pleasure, while Octavia and Missy moved to the kitchen, there to prepare the evening meal and finish off the outside chores.

As they clustered in the doorway like three hens unsure of the pecking order, it was easy to see that Drusilla and Octavia were sisters. Each was extremely tall and each had a long, bony, anaemically fair face; but where Drusilla was sturdily large and muscular, Octavia was crabbed and diminished by a long standing bone disease. Missy shared the height,though not so much of it, being a mere five feet seven to her aunt's five feet ten and her mother's six feet. Nothing else did she have incommon, for she was as darkas they were fair, as flat-chested as they were fulsome, and owned features as small as theirs were large.

The kitchen was a big bare room at the back of the dim central hall,its brown-painted wooden walls contributing their mite to the general atmosphere of gloominess.

"Peel the potatoes before you go out to pick the beans, Missy," said Octavia as she strapped on the voluminous brown pinny which protectedher brown dress from the perils of cooking, While Missy peeled the three potatoes considered sufficient, Octavia. shook up the coals smouldering in the firebox of the black iron range which occupied the whole front age of the kitchen chimney; she then added fresh wood, adjusted the damper to cull more draught, and put a huge iron kettle on to boil.This done,...

Meet the Author

Colleen McCullough is the author of The Thorn Birds, Tim, An Indecent Obsession, A Creed for the Third Millennium, The Ladies of Missalonghi, The First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune's Favorites, Caesar's Women, Caesar, and other novels. She lives with her husband on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Norfolk Island, 1,000 miles off the Australian coast
Date of Birth:
June 1, 1937
Place of Birth:
Wellington, New South Wales, Australia
Education:
Attended University of Sydney

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Ladies of Missalonghi 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book years ago - short, sweet, with lots of food for thought weeks after you read it. I give this book to my kid's teachers with a special bookmark. Its perfect for a teacher to read over the holiday or summer break!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a school project on foreign authors, and i just couldn't put it down. The characters were captivating, and the story was just delightful. I loved the development of Missy throughout the novel, as well as her willingness and determination to get what she desired. The ending was a pleasant surprise. This is a great book to curl up with.
GeorgeElliot65 More than 1 year ago
This exhilirating book is from the minds of Colleen McCullough. This is one of the funniest, cleverest books I've read in a while. This book is old but it rings true still.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book, I must reread it a couple of times a year. I think of it more as a coming-of-age story than a love story, even though she is in her thirties. Also, I want to point out that 'Blue Castle' was published a year AFTER this book and is a young adult book. Just wanted to get the facts straight.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book and I could see this as a movie! The characters are so well-developed. I especially loved the comment made by one of the aunts,'You get the government...' For those who love period lit this is a must read for you. Go get it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy this wonderful story and couldn't put it down as I anxiously awaited what would happen next! I love period writings and the characters all were very interesting as the story develops. I can see this could make a great movie! I was totaly surprised at the end. Wonderfully funny and finally a story that you feel leaves you feeling so great at the ending!
PatF62 More than 1 year ago
After another review mentioned that is was a lot like Montgomery's the Blue Castle, I looked into it. It is exactly the same story and I'm shocked that she got away with it. Both have an aging spenster type woman that finally finds a wonderful mate with lots of money so that the whole town reaps the benefits. The one thing in it's favor is that it is short. The writing is very basic and plain, not like her Rome novels. She is a good author - I just don't know how she got away with this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Blue Castle was published in 1926, way before the Ladies of M!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I dont understand why this book is still in print. I would have thought it would be pulled because of plagerism! It is so like Lucy Maud Montgomerys book Blue Castle. And Ms Montgomery's is better.