cover image Bittersweet


Colleen McCullough. Simon & Schuster, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4767-5541-0

In this sweeping historical saga, McCullough (The Thorn Birds) explores the lives and loves of four sisters in 1920s Australia. Edda and Grace are twins, as are Heather (dubbed Tufts) and Katherine, (called Kitty). Since career options for women are sparse, the sisters enter nursing school, encouraged by their father, the Reverend Thomas Latimer. The four leave their home in the small New South Wales town of Corunda, each with different goals: Grace wants to be a wife and mother; Tufts wants independence, Kitty wants to be known for more than her beauty, and Edda longs to be a doctor. Each finds love, of a sort, and tragedy is not in short supply—the Great Depression hits; one sister’s husband is lost; another’s is cast off; miscarriages occur. As each sister finds her path in life, though, one thing remains clear: family means everything to these women. No matter what befalls them, they remain fiercely loyal to each other. McCullough’s richly drawn characters grab hold of the heartstrings from the beginning of their journey through early-20th-century Australia, and prove that, even when choices are not in wide supply, happiness is attainable—even if, at times, it is bittersweet. [em]Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Aug.) [/em]