NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

3.0 out of 5 stars Lives that are not so sweet..., May 16, 2014

This is a romance novel set in Australia during the Depression era. It features two sets of twins - 4 young women coming of age during an era when higher education and the idea of a meaningful career were not the norm. Taking advantage of a unique opportunity, they matriculate to train as nurses at Corunda Base Hospital. Though the sisters are very close, they are all quite different as far as their goals and life ambitions. Inevitably, each experiences life's requisite ups and downs as political and economic turmoil affect the dreams held dear.

This could have been a powerful testimony to the advancement of women's liberation during that time and place in history, but unfortunately the story told here was more soap opera than sweeping epic. I found the characters to be completely unlikeable, in fact, they were narcissistic and so predictable that I found myself immensely annoyed. Much of the narrative focused on each sister's problems with love -- not because they were forced to choose between it and achieving their life-long ambitions -- but because they dithered about not having any personal insight. Good decisions seemed quite outside of their capability despite the reader being assured they were all well-educated. Secondary characters got short shrift and were very one-dimensional stereotypes. The long discourses on the politics of the time mostly moved me to boredom. The reader, reminded so often of how beautiful these girls were and how much money they had or didn't have, wonders if they would have amounted to anything had they been plain and poor. How nice that they all find men willing to part with the pounds to finance them. Edda, Grace, Tufts, and Kitty. These daughters of Australia find life bittersweet.

Recommended to readers who enjoy historical fiction with a large portion of romance. Don't expect it to be THE THORN BIRDS.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the e-book ARC to review.

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