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Missus by Ruth Park
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Was unexpectedly given some reading time one morning over the Christmas break (Miss Boo opted for a cafe outing after a nice rummage around the local junk shop looking for stuff for arts & crafts). And I hadn't put my current read in my bag! And there were no newspapers at the newsagency!! The HORROR!!!

Luckily the cafe has a free books shelf, and they're happy for books to go wandering so long as they get replaced (and they know I'm good for replacing books), so I got stuck into Missus by Ruth Park, a well loved Australian author who died late in 2010. Most of us read her Muddle Headed Wombat books as children, graduated to Playing Beattie Bow as teenagers, and then moved on to The Harp in the South as adults.

Most of us. I failed on that final step, meaning that The Harp in the South (and its sequel, Poor Man's Orange and prequel Missus) has been on my "really must read" for the longest time. So I was very happy to have the first book of the trilogy land in my lap. And it turned out to be an excellent read.

It's a story of Irish families in Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of them fled the famine (I assume it's the potato famine), some of them fled unliveable situations and family, some of them just came out looking for a better life. This is a character book, and is less about having a complex multilayered plot, than having believable characters muddle along through their lives like we all do.

It's hard to pick a favourite character out of them all, but the interaction between Josie and her sister Margaret was my favourite. Josie is a clever young woman, forever being mean to her silly romantic older sister, and most of her life is spent trying to best Margaret somehow. Josie's development over the book as she faces her own disappointments is a very interesting read.

For a book without a whole lot of plot (and I'm a sucker for multilayered complex plots), I really enjoyed it and I will be tracking down the full trilogy. ( )
1 vote wookiebender | Jan 3, 2011 |
Reviewed at whisperinggums.wordpress.com: http://whisperinggums.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/ruth-park-missus/ ( )
  minerva2607 | Nov 8, 2010 |
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The old Queen was dead, and King Edward well settled on the throne of England
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Missus takes us behind the lives of Hughie and Mumma, out of the gritty realism of inner city slum life and into the past of the stations, the bush and the country towns. We meet them as they were in the early 1920s, drifter Hugh Darcy, the unwilling hero who sweeps the dreamily innocent Margaret Kilker off her feet. Ruth Park richly creates the turmoil of those early days of their courtship in the dusty outback, filled with beautifully drawn characters that will make you laugh as much as cry. Ruth Park?s Australian classics take you from the barren landscapes of the outback to the colourful slums of Sydney with convincing depth, careful detail and great heart.… (more)

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