by Colleen McCullough
3.8 34

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Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

In her first epic romantic novel since The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough weaves a sweeping story of two sets of twins—all trained as nurses, but each with her own ambitions—stepping into womanhood in 1920s and 30s Australia.

Because they are two sets of twins, the four Latimer sisters are as close as can be. Yet these vivacious young women each have their own dreams for themselves: Edda wants to be a doctor, Tufts wants to organize everything, Grace won’t be told what to do, and Kitty wishes to be known for something other than her beauty. They are famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit, and ambition, but as they step into womanhood, they are not enthusiastic about the limited prospects life holds for them.

Together they decide to enroll in a training program for nurses—a new option for women of their time, who have previously been largely limited to the role of wives, and preferably mothers. As the Latimer sisters become immersed in hospital life and the demands of their training, they meet people and encounter challenges that spark new maturity and independence. They meet men from all walks of life—local farmers, their professional colleagues, and even men with national roles and reputations—and each sister must make weighty decisions about what she values most. The results are sometimes happy, sometimes heartbreaking, but always . . . bittersweet.

Rendered with McCullough’s trademark historical accuracy, this dramatic coming of age tale is wise in the ways of the human heart, one that will transport readers to a time in history that feels at once exotic and yet not so very distant from our own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476755458
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/19/2014
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 46,545
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Colleen McCullough, a native of Australia, established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney before working as a researcher at Yale Medical School for ten years. She is the bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Thorn Birds, and lives with her husband on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.


Norfolk Island, 1,000 miles off the Australian coast

Date of Birth:

June 1, 1937

Place of Birth:

Wellington, New South Wales, Australia


Attended University of Sydney

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Bittersweet 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not a deep read, but if you want to just get away for awhile - this is the book for you. Loved reading about Austrialia, the twin part is clever and gives the book a twist. It does not go in great detail and it moves fast. It has 4 sisters to move the novel in slightly different directions - to keep your attention. It is just a sweet time - reading to relax. Highly recommended for the quiet get away from the world. An absolutely great and riviting historical fiction book is The Partisan by William Jarvis. This book just won an Indie Medialian Award. I would give both book A+++ but for different reasons.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would give this book a 3.5. The book provides an interesting picture of Australia during them between the wars. However,  the stories about the sisters is mediocre. The best part of the book is about Australia. I enjoyed reading about the differences between the  Australians and the English. Maybe because I work in a hospital, I enjoyed the parts about running a hospital.  The stories about the sisters I felt was average-neither good nor bad. I found it hard to believe that women  of their social background would all become nurses since that was a lower class profession and their father in many ways is quite conservative. I felt that women of their social class who did not have money were more likely to become teachers . Perhaps the author made them nurses to introduce the hospital setting. I was interested in some of the older more  lower class nurses and felt it was too bad we did not find out more about them. Contrasting these original nurses with the physicians could be a sort of hospital Upstairs/Downstairs. I found it hard to keep the different sisters straight in my mind. It was confusing to remember whose twin was whose twin and which twins had Maude for a biologic mother. The character who seemed most real to me was Kitty. I felt the author could have gone deeper into the different sisters personality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm having a really hard time getting into this book. Maybe it's keeping two sets of twins straight, or perhaps it's the authors wording, but I find myself constantly having to go back and review things. Not really getting lost in this one.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough is a family saga about four Latimer sisters – two sets of twins from two different mothers. The story is set in a small Australian town during the aftermath of World War I and the Great Depression. The four sisters, Edda and Grace, and Tufts and Kitty, leave their hometown to become nursing trainees at a nearby hospital. Upon their arrival, they are under the supervision of a very harsh Matron. Despite the terrible living and working conditions, the sisters persevere. Things improve when a new hospital superintendent named Dr. Charles Burdum takes over. Four sisters - different from the other, with their own set of future aspirations. The story unfolds as each sister follows their own dreams and make their own life altering decisions. Despite their struggles, it is the bond of family that holds them together. This is a novel about choices and the seeking of happiness and the many different ways this affects lives. The story has a little of everything, from sadness to great joy, life and death, and great love. Told with the author’s great wit, there are many poignant moments as well as humorous ones. A profoundly enriching novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately this last novel was one of McCullough's worst.  I finished it, but it was one of the most unsatisfying reads I've had.  The characters were not at all interesting, and the action (what little there was) lagged and lagged, making the book seem unending.  I don't think I'll even take this one to the second-hand store, because i'd hate for someone else to lose time and money with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't keep my interested I quit before I was finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of those books that is interesting but has no real "point" - it was hard to care about the characters . . . .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The personalities of the heroines of this novel are clearly defined and the times and places they lived in are presented so that I felt I really knew them. Not since The Ladies of Missalonghi have I enjoyed the unfolding of the women's lives so much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a delight to read. As a retired Nurse, I enjoyed reading about the four sisters. The author's books are always a great read. Sad that she passed away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting storyline, cant waite to finish reading.I give it a 4 star.
GrammyReading More than 1 year ago
having read today that colleen mccullough passed away..literally two days after i read the last page of actually bittersweet in itself...thought the book was delicious..and like some of the other reviewers had difficulty keeping straight which twin was which and who was the other twin...but the further i read the more i could relate the sisters latimer...each a unique personality..each life brought forth a different struggle to be ov ercome..the family, the neighbors, the staff...politicians...lots to keep track of...but the read was well worth it...and eventually i put a voice to the person, and could hear as well as feel each sister...well worth the time and effort....r i p ms mccullough
braziel 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed this author's eork. This was not up to snuff for Ms. McCullough . I felt she was attempting to "one up" Little Women.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good story of nursing, love, and family. Excellent herstory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All in all I did enjoy it but, I was disappointed with the ending. I felt everything was tied up to finish the book in a really could have been longer if some of the material presented would have been more developed. But, it is still worth reading
Sue5 More than 1 year ago
I like the writing style of this author. Unfortunately she passed in 2015. If you remember she also wrote Thorn Birds.
NICU More than 1 year ago
All nurses will find something to admire, to laugh at and nod their heads at. A delightful read.
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