The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

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Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough


Well my first read of the New Year did not please me. Bittersweet (C ) by Colleen McCullough greatly disappointed me. Written by the author of The Thorn Birds, I thought that this saga would have been as wonderful but it was lack luster, rather boring and only picked up at the end.

Basically, it is a story about how powerful the relationships among sisters is especially when they are twins. The main characters are twin sisters born from different mothers about a year apart. They each have distinct personalities and peculiarities. There are many similarities as well. Part of what bogged this book down was the time McCullough took to develop each character. There seemed to be endless details—less would have been better than more.

The author also strived to reveal the political fabric of Australia before and during the Great Depression. This, too, I felt was delivered to the extreme. In fact, in order to get through the novel I skimmed over much of it.

Sadly, I thought the best part of the book was the ending. I appreciated the turn of events and was satisfied that some justice had been served. This is our January book club choice so perhaps after our discussion I will feel differently but for right now I wish I had spent time reading something else.



Without a doubt, Bittersweet (A) by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore was captivating till the very end. I inhaled the last 150 pages. Bittersweet ticked off all the boxes that for me are necessary ingredients for a great read.

Every summer the Winslow clan gathers at their camp in Vermont. This particular year, Ev invites her college roommate Mabel to join her. Ev is about to come into her inheritance and along with the money comes a cottage at Winloch called Bittersweet. Mabel has lived an impoverished life. The very idea of being part of the Winslow family, even just for the summer, excites her. What she doesn’t know is that the Winslows have as many secrets as they have money. Mabel is easily convinced that she is meant to conduct the investigation that will reveal all. She believes that it will guarantee her a place in their world.

The characters were compelling, however, Mabel Dagmar was one character whose intentions I couldn’t quite grasp. One minute I was feeling sorry for her and the next I was questioning her every move. Was she investing in herself, a friendship, and a love interest or was there a motive that wasn’t obvious. She clearly had me twisted. For me, this made the novel all the more interesting.

The story flowed well and I particularly enjoyed the way the chapters were set up. Though hard to do, you were able to put the book down and then pick it up again without loosing rhythm. While some of story was rather obvious, like the direction Birch took, there were also many surprises. Some even were rather shocking.

All in all, Bittersweet is a book that I highly recommend. It will make picking up another book harder to do because my mind is lingering at Winloch.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.