by Wilma Mazo

Who says fairy tales are only for children! I just read one, and I assure you, that Colleen McCullough’s book The Ladies of Missalonghi (spelled with an “a”, the old fashioned way, and not with an “o”) is not for children. Yet, it has all the characteristics of a true fairy tale: thirty –three year old, very plain spinster, Missy Wright meets a mysterious stranger, and with the help of her “fairy Godmother,” marries him and most assuredly, lives happily ever after. And, the most amazing thing is that McCullough’s book has been sitting on my shelf for at least twelve years, and I had never read it!

The Ladies of the Missalonghi takes place in the town of Byron, Australia near Sydney just before WWI, and stepping into its pages was, for me, like stepping into a world long past and forgotten, except of course, in Byron. The town is almost entirely inhabited by an enormous family called the Hurlingfords who were originally granted their lands and titles by the British monarchy. They own everything and hold all the professional positions, but they do not own “the valley.” That proves eventually to be their undoing.

Tradition, appearance, and above all, pride are paramount in their world. In this world, the men of the family are totally dominant and unscrupulous, and unmarried women are exploited without mercy. But, take heart; these women do have their day because of the gumption and perhaps a little magical intervention.

And now, you can find this charmingly playful novella on the shelf at your Andes Public Library. Come in and take it home, just for the fun of it. ~


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