The Thorn Birds: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, May 11, 2010
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|Paperback, Deckle Edge, May 11, 2010||
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From the Back Cover
One of the most beloved novels of all time, Colleen McCullough's magnificent saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian outback has enthralled readers the world over. The Thorn Birds is a chronicle of three generations of Clearys—an indomitable clan of ranchers carving lives from a beautiful, hard land while contending with the bitterness, frailty, and secrets that penetrate their family. It is a poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit. Most of all, it is the story of the Clearys' only daughter, Meggie, and the haunted priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart—and the intense joining of two hearts and souls over a lifetime, a relationship that dangerously oversteps sacred boundaries of ethics and dogma.
About the Author
Colleen McCullough is the author of The Thorn Birds, Tim, An Indecent Obsession, A Creed for the Third Millennium, The Ladies of Missalonghi, The First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune's Favorites, Caesar's Women, Caesar, and other novels. She lives with her husband on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.
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People making mistakes with their eyes wide open then miserable about the results. It's not a great romance and most of it is pretty predictable with predictable results.
Once the big lust between Meggie and Ralph is consummated, the story bogs down. I had to push to make myself finish reading it. Dane and Justine just weren't interesting enough to keep the story going. Even taking them away from the isolation of the homestead didn't add enough to keep them interesting. Its like McCullough spent all her energy on the big romance and didn't have anything left or lost interest in her own story once Ralph and Meggie had their fling.
Still, it isn't all bad. I just now scratch my head and wonder what all the fuss was about at the time.
The book spans 54 years in the life of an Australian family, the Clearys, focusing on the story of daughter Meggie, who is 4 years old at the beginning of the book. The reader soon meets Father Ralph de Bricassart, an ambitious, handsome priest who is 24 years Meggie’s senior. Then begins an unlikely love story that spans over half a decade of love and pain.
McCullough’s characters come alive in the book. As a reader, I quickly became invested in them, especially Meggie. Her young naïve way of seeing the world contrasted nicely with Father Ralph’s world weary perspective. By the time she was born he had seen and done too much; she was a light to him, fresh air after suffocating. Until she started to grow up. As she blossomed into a young lady, his pure love for her was challenged; one of the central struggles in the book is the war between Father Ralph’s manhood and his priesthood.
Readers can plot the passage of time through the well-developed growth and changing of the characters; in contrast, the land that calls to them all, the station of Drogheda in Australia, barely changes. McCullough’s vivid descriptions evoke the beauty and the cycle of the land: from plenty to drought and back again. This dependable background allows the characters to change and develop, creating a beautiful storyline.
Top international reviews
It is a book on relationships, loyalty, wasted years in life and powerful story lines for each character. Read read read and devour the sheer brilliance of this author.
It's too long by a few hundred pages as there isn't enough in it. It rambles on at the end. I'm not sure why we even needed the Justine/ Dane/ Rainer stuff. It makes an untidy end.
I love books with a powerful sense of place, and you certainly get that with the outback parts. I don't think the twins going to war was necessary to document in detail, as it didn't push the story on. There was too much of the Vatican too, I felt, as I get annoyed when a book so centred in place suddenly moves elsewhere. Overall the style is fine and easy to read. There are a few clunky word choices, but you always get those. I found the changes of POV from one paragraph to another were confusing: Towards the end we have a paragraph about Justine in London, and the next is from Meggie's POV in Australia.
I thought it was somewhat odd that not one of the Cleary men married. I realise they would not meet many people where they live, but perhaps one of the twins could have met someone while away at war. It seems to be a sexless, rather sterile family (Meggie's generation). I did not take to any of the characters, except perhaps Dane.
This sounds a negative review. It's not. I read it quickly and I give it four stars. If it was a dish (I know this is pretentious) I would say it needs seasoning. There was just something missing from what could have been am incredible, powerful story of love, God, morals etc. I would have preferred less of a saga, and more of a shorter love story, kept tighter with more tension. I do realise that styles have changed over the last 30 odd years and maybe that is it: it is simply dated.
Having said all this, I reckon I will read it again, and I recommend it. Just don't expect an overwhelming tortured love story.
It is an epic tale spanning the years 1915 to 1969, following three generations of the Cleary family from their humble beginnings in New Zealand to the home of a wealthy yet elderly family member in Australia. The novel is predominantly based at this fictional Australian Sheep Farm, Drogheda and the family encounter many difficulties, including bereavements, incarceration, affairs, the Second World War and such forth.
It is interesting to see how the generations change and adapt and every generation of Cleary woman seems that little bit happier, freer and more content than the last, perhaps.
I could not put this book down and believe men and women alike would enjoy and benefit from reading it. As well as containing a lot of fascinating information about the Australian's wildlife and culture, it contains valuable historical references such as Australia's role in the defeating of Hitler in WWII.
More significant for me however was the novel's approach to love, so real, genuine, honest and refreshing. It truly is a masterpiece and even considering the novels' enormous 692 pages I didn't want it to end. I would like to read more Australian novelists' works as well as the rest of Colleen McCollough's, including, 'An Indecent Obsession'.
You will love the story of the Thorn Bird, so magnificently sad; yet beautiful.
Its an epic family saga set in the Australian Outback involving a very handsome priest Ralph and Meggie and a life/love spanning many decades. It deals with a priest torn between his passionate love for Meggie Cleary and his ambition to rise to the inner circle of the Vatican. He sacrifices one for the other but never quite achieves the happiness and satisfaction he should have. In the meantime Ralph has spoiled Meggie for all other men and she has to deal with this sacrifice in the outback and marries a man she doesn't love which ends unhappily.
The book gives a real insight into the hardships faced by farmers in the outback. The back breaking work, the climate, the deadly extremes in weather and how that can impact the harvest and making a living. The loneliness of the outback and it's beauty is also there.
A tragic love story but with hope for the future generation. Loved it
I did wonder what the Vatican thought of this book?
I was taken through 3 generations of the Cleary family including the early days of mass immigration to Australia of families looking to start a new life so veryfar from their places of birth.The author shows immense knowledge from the 1920's through to the 1990,s and brings to life three generations through a story full of twists and turns.It is no surprise why this novel is so highly rated.I must now try to obtain a copy of the film.
The Thorn Birds It is a completely different story and not as good. Everything just had a slightly negative undertone, which feels rather contrived. I couldn't get into it. The nuns beat the kids, the parents are racist...clichés I have not got time for. My daughter, 16, who loves reading and is much less critical than me, couldn't get into it either, and she had weeks to kill over the summer.
The descriptions of her surroundings are amazing and immersive and I really felt the barren, vast emptiness, smelt the roses and suffered along with Meggie in the claustrophobia of intense humid heat.
I really felt for every character and the author has a gift of being able to make fallible and flawed characters likeable and understandable, even relatable in certain instances. It made me cry...more than once. A fab, epic read.
A real saga spanning three generations of a family who survive in the harsh Australian outback. Mixed with it are the loves and losses of many of the characters, including a long and forbidden love for a beautiful Catholic priest.
I recommend you read the book and or watch the TV series, this was popular when it first aired in the 1970s and for me, was just as popular today.