Congrats, The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough, you have officially won my December "wtf" award for your blatant plagiarizing and "huh?" ending.
First of all, I adore L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. It's in my top five favorite books ever. I've read it close to a dozen times. So I was a little upset when I started reading The Ladies and realized that McCullough completely ripped off Montgomery's story.
Here's a few similarities:
*Both Valancy from The Blue Castle and Missy from The Ladies are old maids, around age 30
*Both women aren't attractive yet have an alluring quality about them
*Both women live with their mother and an older female relative
*Both women are poor, forced to eat horribly bland food, wear brown-colored clothing and yeah, basically lead boring, repressed lives
*Both women are patronized/bullied by their relatives
*Both women compare themselves to their beautiful cousin
*Both women use books as an escape mechanism--but are forced to hide their beloved books from their nosy mothers
*Both women are intrigued by a mysterious male stranger that just moved to town but no one else likes
Okay, so just maybe these are just mere coincidences (yeah, right) but when both girls are suffering from mysterious diseases that give them courage to actually start living their lives, um, yeah, I couldn't handle it.
****Don't read this next paragraph if you haven't read The Blue Castle and intend to****
True, McCullough does make Missy aware that she actually isn't suffering from an incurable disease, but that made the whole "marry me because I'm dying aspect" so much worse.
Missy is a liar and cheats her way into happiness. She freakin' lies to her love interest about how she has a deadly disease because she wants him to marry her. When she became "spunky" and sticks up for herself to her family, I thought it was just plain meanness. Valancy's spirit and comebacks to her family were never cruel--she just stood up for herself and became a funny, interesting and supremely likable person. Missy was not.
And don't even get me started on the ending--WTF??? Evidently someone in the book is actually a ghost? I seriously didn't understand the ending until I went on Amazon and read a few reviews. And, at the end, Missy is still lying to her husband.
I really didn't like this book. I'm angry that McCullough stole from my lovely Blue Castle and made a shoddy, horrible imitation. I think I need to stop this review but don't read this book. Instead, please go read The Blue Castle and savor its perfection.