The Ladies of Missalonghi

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's book, "Like a box of chocolates, this short novel by McCullough is seductive and satisfying; readers will want to devour it in one sitting. Set in the early 1900s in the tiny town of Byron, nestled in the Australia's Blue Mountains, it tells of the blossoming of Missy Wright, 33-year-old spinster and poor relation of the town's ruling family, the Hurlingfords. Missy, her widowed mother and crippled aunt live in genteel poverty, victims of the Hurlingford inheritance policy that gives riches and power to the male members of the family, who heartlessly abuse the women they dominate. Plain, painfully thin and doomed to dress always in serviceable brown, shockingly dark-haired in a clan of luminous blondes, Missy seems fated for da dreary future until a distant cousin, a divorcee, arrives from Sydney. Under her tutelage, Missy acquires spunk, hope and the means to a happy ending."
Shallow thoughts:
  • I picked today's book because it was short. There I said it. I don't feel well today and on days like this I just want to go back to bed, curl up under a quilt, and read something that's not only short, but also comforting (actually that's not true, what I really want to do is curl up under a quilt and watch The Brady Bunch), but since that wasn't an option this morning, I decided to search for a comforting book. So this book seemed like the perfect one to read today. And my instincts were right (for once), I really enjoyed today's book, it was a pleasant diversion from the minor illness I seem to be coming down with.
  • It was also a nice alternative to what I was originally going to read today - another book by the same author, The Thorn Birds (I watched the mini-series in junior high, although I had to go to a friends house and watch it because my mother thought it would "give me ideas", but I've never actually read the book before) - but that book was quite long and I just didn't feel like I was up to it today, so I went with this book instead.
  • During the first 60 pages of the book I was seeing some similarities between today's book and the plot of Sense & Sensibility - with one huge difference, I didn't get sucked into this book immediately like I always do with Jane Austen. This book took about 20 pages before I felt like I was really interested in what was happening. The sad thing is that if I wasn't writing this blog I probably wouldn't have continued reading past page five - which makes me wonder how many other books I've stopped reading just before they started to get really good.
  • The town the book takes place in, Byron, has no library. Every feeling revolts (sorry, I'm in a Jane Austen kind of mood right now). Instead, they have a place where they can rent books. I'm feeling very happy right now that things aren't like that where I live, or I'd be bankrupt right now.
  • Several of the characters in this book talked a great deal about how horrible they think novels are. I'm always amused by the way old books (or books that take place in other time periods) talk about novels as if they are positively scandalous, as if anyone who reads them must have incredibly low standards and morals. I'm actually not crazy about novels myself - it's because of my high standards (ahahahaha). Okay, so that's not believable - I clearly have no standards. The real reason why I'm not crazy about novels is because I've always considered real life more interesting than fiction.
Okay, so it's question time again dear readers: What do you do with a book that isn't holding your interest? Keep reading? Set a page limit that you're going to read to and then quit if it's still boring? Quit as soon as it gets boring?