Colleen McCullough

Oh! But oh! I need to get on to a little diversion from the One x Four path and talk about one of my favourite authors.  I have just woken up to the news that Colleen McCullough has left us.

I’ve never really confessed this to anyone before, but she was a big part of the reason why I studied Ancient History at university. Her Masters of Rome series started about 1990, and I was fascinated at both the politics and the everyday Roman life she described in them. Because of these books, I started reading all the Roman classics, then the Greek classics, and next thing you know, I am studying everything in even more depth in an increasingly unpopular but never more relevant degree at the University of Queensland.

In the last year, I’ve been reading all of her novels, some for the first time, some for the seventh. It’s only as a grown up I’ve realised how amazingly, well, feminist her books have always been. So many strong women – her latest, Bittersweet, tells the story of four women growing up in 1920s rurals Australia and becoming nurses and it’s one of my favourite reads of 2014.

And she wrote this, which when I re-read it in The Thorn Birds last year, made my sit up and gasp, because she described me:

“Twelve thousand miles of it, to the other side of the world. And whether they came home again or not, they would belong neither here, nor there, for they would have lived on two continents and sampled two different ways of life.”

I will really miss her.


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