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This is a truly a great and classic novel. I do not bestow these oft-overused adjectives lightly. This is a story of deep, rich, and forbidden love, betrayal, tragedy, and ambition. This is a truly wonderful story set primarily in Australia, circa 1915 and then spanning several generations to the post World War II era. McCullough writes a sprawling story which primarily centers on the forbidden love between an extraordinary woman and a good but ambitious priest. This is the story of the Cleary family, originally from Ireland, who emigrate first to New Zealand, and early on, to Australia. The young Cleary daughter, Meggie, falls in love with the local Catholic priest, Ralph de Briccasart, who is a good and ambitious man who certainly does nothing to encourage this love, but who certainly returns it as he regards Meggie as the daughter he can never have. As Meggie matures, he comes to regard her in a more romantic way. A great struggle arises between this love on the one hand ("the forbidden rose") and his ambition to become a Cardinal or perhaps more, on the other. There is much, much, more to the story than this, however. The novel transports the reader to Australia, and makes that country a real place to those of us who have never been there. This is also the story of the struggles of the Cleary family, as they battle with, and come to love, the rich outback country of Australia. This is an extraordinarily authentic and moving story that any review (or at least this one) can only fail to do justice. McCullough's prose is simply outstanding, and her characters crackle with realism--they become utterly real people and the reader will become swept away with this wonderful story. The storyline never drags, and at no point does this novel ever fail to completely capture the reader's attention. This novel is not only a classic; it is a ripping good read! If you have not yet enjoyed this novel, you are in for a wonderful reading experience.
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The Thorn Birds, written by Colleen McCullough, in my opinion is the greatest romance novel of all time. The character of Meggie Cleary is my favorite character in all of literature. Her strength, beauty, passion and love makes her a timeless heroine. Meggie and Father Ralph share a love story that spans many years and many heartbreaks. Even though they are not together, the book always has a undercurrent where you can feel their longing and endless love for each other, even though they are not together. In their hearts, they will be together forever.Meggie and Ralph are the Romeo and Juliet of the Australian outback- just as tortured and tragic. The miniseries was also fabulous--Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward make me speechless every time I see it. It is spectacular. Read The Thorn Birds and watch the series, if you are lucky enough to have the chance. You will never be the same--it's not just a book or a movie, it's an experience. Thank you Colleen McCullough, for such a wonderful story.
"The Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough is my favorite novel. It is in a category by itself and deserves more than five stars. I saw ten minutes of the miniseries on television and knew I had to read the book. I was twelve, and the story of Meggie and Ralph moved me to hysterical tears. I am now 18, and I have read the book so many times I have lost count. Set in the Australian Outback in the years surrounding WWII, it is the story of a girl growing up, learning that "The best is only bought at the cost of great pain...Or so says the legend." The courage and strength of Meggie despite the tremendous hardships of her life inspires me. I must admit I fell in love with Ralph de Bricassart; first with his name, then with the man. (I can only hope to find such a person!) All of the other characters--Fee, Paddy, Frank, Dane, Justine, Rain--are developed clearly throughout the story. McCullough is a genius for combining three generations of the Cleary family into one novel! I still cry when I read the story, for the love, and for the pain. The introductory story of the thornbird is a lesson for life: all sadness will pass, and one day something beautiful will come from that pain. A highly emotional book, "The Thorn Birds" is the best work of this century. It is worth reading to anyone who enjoys drama and romance, as well as suspense, action, and sadness! The movie based on the novel starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward is an excellent interpretation.
Someone once described W.S. Maugham as one of the greatest storytellers of our time for he writes with a vigorous flair, extraordinary clarity and precision and tightly disciplined with superb wit and urbanity and his sense of literary form is indeed something to conjure with. After reading Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds, I have come to the same conclusion, that is, the description on W.S. Maugham's penmanship can also be applied to McCullough's writing aptitude. Her style of writing is tinged with a touch of lucidity and simplicity, free from affectations and at her best, she has a delicate, condescending grace and charm. McCullough's dialogue is irrefragably excellent for the revelation of character and her command of the idioms of the ordinary speech permits her to effectuate a fine naturalness. From the day of its publication in 1976, this exhilarating epic of outback life has been celebrated as the quintessential modern novel, a work that vividly brings to life all the details of life Down Under. The Thorn Birds deals with the tragedy of ordinary lives, unfolded with an intense compassion and profound insight into the truth of the multifarious characters. McCullough fleshes out each and every character with minuteness and precision. The characters are common people, extremely down-to-earth and are convincingly and irrefutably alive. We have already taken notice of her bold and believable characterisation in Tim, her first novel which is an extremely poignant love story told with profound candour that acutely delves with acumen and insight into the affinity and emotional consequences of a forbidden love between an ingratiating, mentally-retarded young labourer and a middle-aged spinster.Read more ›
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Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neuropathologist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney before working as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. Her writing career began with the publication of Tim, followed by The Thorn Birds, a record-breaking international bestseller. She lives on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific with her husband, Ric Robinson.