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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
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The Thorn Birds (1977)

by Colleen McCullough

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,3761241,053 (3.99)240
Adaptation of Colleen McCullough's epic novel about an Australian priest torn by personal desires and ambition. This title has been repackaged. Disc one contains episodes 1 and 2; disc two contains episodes 3 and 4; disc three contains extra content.
Recently added byprivate library, zanneysmom, amandanan, maureenhart, Bran_the_Rebuilder, Veebs, nancyjean19, rena40
Legacy LibrariesLouis Armstrong
  1. 10
    The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan (Fliss88)
  2. 10
    Roses by Leila Meacham (miriamparker)
    miriamparker: ROSES, like THE THORNBIRDS, is an epic family saga that you won't be able to put down.
  3. 00
    The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (espertus)
    espertus: Another well-written historical romance
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» See also 240 mentions

English (119)  German (3)  Danish (1)  All languages (123)
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
The Thorn Birds has been on my tbr shelf (I laughingly refer to it as a shelf as if there aren’t that many books I have not yet read – ha!) for about six years. It’s not generally the kind of book I go in for, but I bought it for some reason – I have a feeling my aunt recommended it – and just occasionally I like to get caught up in a sweeping saga, so in search of some escapism (at the time of writing, most of the world is on lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic) I decided this might do the trick.

Pretty much all I knew about The Thorn Birds prior to reading was that there was a tv series adaptation in the 1980, starring Richard Chamberlain; I knew it was about the love between a woman and a Catholic Priest, and apparently it was extremely scandalous!! With this in mind, the book turned out to be a bit of a surprise. I was expecting a love story but this is more of a family saga, concentrating on three generations of the Cleary family. It takes place from the early to mid/late 20th century on a homestead in Australia (mainly) and at the centre of it is Father Ralph De Briccassart and his love for Meggie Cleary. It starts as a paternal type of love as Meggie is only a child when they first meet, and Ralph is a young priest, but as she grows older, their love becomes more – but Ralph’s vocation is always between them.

A lot of the book is given over to other characters – in the beginning, Meggie’s brothers and parents; and later on the net generation of the family, Justine and Dane. The hardships and realities of running a sheep station in Australia.

I did more or less enjoy the book – clearly it was well researched and it did hold my attention for the most part. However, I did not particularly warm to Meggie and I certainly didn’t like Ralph, who seemed particularly mercenary and manipulative. Nonetheless, I am glad I read it although it wouldn’t be a story I would probably want to reread at any point. ( )
  Ruth72 | Mar 30, 2020 |
I read this years and years ago, I think in my teen years. Loved it. Due for a reread, I think! ( )
  TheTrueBookAddict | Mar 22, 2020 |
This tells the story of three generations of a family based on a ranch in Australia. Fiona (Fi)’s daughter Meggie (short for Megan) falls in love with the local priest when she is only 10 or 11 years old. The priest, Rafe(?), seems to also fall for Meggie as she grows up. Meggie goes on to marry a neglectful husband, Luke, but she misses home too much and leaves him to return, but only after having two kids of her own, Justine and Dane.

I listened to the audio. It was fairly slow all the way through. It did pick up – at least enough so that I didn’t lose focus – particularly after Meggie got married, I thought. I wasn’t as interested in Rafe’s point of view. That was some of when I lost interest, during his parts. (Oh, look – see what happens when you listen to the audio... apparently his name was Ralph! And for a while, I couldn’t tell if it was Rafe or Wraith!) I’m not sure I really liked any of the characters. Looking at some of the other reviews, it seems there was romance? Hmm, really? I didn’t notice. Overall, I’m rating it ok. For a while, I thought about upping that to good, but I’m dropping it back to simply ok. I did like that the audio kept my attention (mostly, especially after Meggie and Luke got married). It was mildly entertaining. ( )
  LibraryCin | Mar 10, 2020 |
Tens of millions of people know this story. The Thorn Birds is a record breaker. Book sales exceed 30 million. It's the biggest selling Australian book. The paperback rights sold for $USD1.9m in 1977. The television mini-series shown in the US in March 1983 was the second-highest rating mini series behind Roots.

The Thorn Birds is a sweeping family saga at the centre of which is Meggie Cleary and Father – later Cardinal Ralph de Bricassart – forbidden love. We meet the Clearys in New Zealand in 1915. Their poverty ends when Paddy Cleary's multi-millionaire sister and asks him to Australia to manage her enormous sheep station, Drogheda.

Happiness is denied to the many characters. There's plenty of drama – births, marriages and of course dramatic deaths. McCullough has been criticised for lack of depth and writing quality.

Well, I read to be entertained, enlightened and engrossed in a different world. The Thorn Birds transported me to Drogheda, the Vatican and Sydney. It made me laugh, cry and sigh. There's a reason for those astronomical sales and ratings: it's a great spell-binding story. ( )
  Neil_333 | Mar 6, 2020 |
Saga of the Cleary family in Australia. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCullough, Colleenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Binchy, MaeveIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christiansen, IbTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagerström, BertilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain. ... Or so says the legend.
Dedication
for 'big sister' Jean Easthope
First words
On December 8th, 1915, Meggie Cleary had her fourth birthday.
Quotations
"If she was capable of it, surely once or twice her guard would have slipped; surely once or twice she would have experienced a pang of something more than tolerant affection for her infrequent lovers. It didn't occur to her that she deliberately chose lovers who would never threaten her self-imposed detachment, so much a part of herself by now that she regarded it as completely natural."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
Sometimes when he didn't know he was being watched Meggie would look at him and try desperately to imprint his face upon her brain's core...And he would turn to find her watching him, a look in his eyes of haunted grief, a doomed look. She understood the implicit message, or thought she did; he must go back to the Church and his duties. Never again with the same spirit, perhaps, but more able to serve. For only those who have slipped and fallen know the vicissitudes of the way...
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