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Colleen McCullough resembles many famous storytellers in her reliance on coincidences. Are readers today more or less able to accept coincidences in narrative than were readers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?

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To what extent do McCullough’s characters’ inclinations to follow hunches mirror her own lifestyle?

Compare McCullough’s The Thorn Birds with its cinematic version. Allowing for the differences owing to different media, has the movie accurately reflected the novel?

As “the first man in Rome,” Gaius Marius was important in political and military life. Which aspects of his life would have led McCullough to choose him rather than a republican or imperial figure as “first man”?

To what extent is Honour Langtry an admirable nurse? Are her failures the result of irresponsibility or an imprudent obsession with responsibility?

Examine McCullough’s concept of happiness as revealed in her fiction.


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“Colleen McCullough.” In The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, edited by William H. Wilde, Jay Hooten, and Barry Andrews. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Provides biographical data and a summary and brief commentary on each of the novels written to date.

DeMarr, Mary Jean. Colleen McCullough: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. The opening chapter discusses McCullough as a woman and a writer; the next discusses the wide variety of her fictional genres. Chapters devoted to each novel follow. Contains bibliography and index.

Powers, Katherine A. “Ancient Evenings.” The Washington Post, December 15, 2002, p. WBK.06. Review of McCullough’s novel The October Horse, the final volume of her Masters of Rome series, refers to the “exhaustive and exhausting detail.”

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Critical Essays