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The Thorn Birds by by Colleen McCullough
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The Thorn Birds (original 1977; edition 1982)

by by Colleen McCullough

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5,17697865 (4)178
Member:sofiemol
Title:The Thorn Birds
Authors:by Colleen McCullough
Info:Avon books (1982), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (1977)

  1. 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.
  2. 11
    Random Winds by Belva Plain (shesinplainview)
  3. 00
    Emmeline by Judith Rossner (shesinplainview)
  4. 11
    The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan (Fliss88)
  5. 00
    The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (espertus)
    espertus: Another well-written historical romance
  6. 12
    The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller (shesinplainview)
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» See also 178 mentions

English (90)  German (3)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (95)
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The Thorn Birds is the story of the Clearys, a poor family of ranchers/shearers who uproot from their home in New Zealand to take over Drogheda, the most prominent sheep ranch in the Australian Outback which is owned by Mary, sister of family patriarch Paddy Cleary. Thorn Birds follows the Clearys for three generations but the heart of the story is Meggie Cleary who grows from a child to womanhood, and her forbidden love for Catholic Priest Ralph de Bricassart who is torn between his love for Meggie and his desire to ascend to the greatest heights of the Catholic Church.

This might be the best book that I have read this year. I fell in love with the Cleary family as they start their new life in Australia on Drogheda. Mary Carson, their benefactress is one of the most malevolent old women I have ever encountered in literature and it was great entertainment reading the exchanges between her and Ralph. I felt sorry for Meggie being a little girl of 10 and virtually ignored by the rest of the family She develops a bond with Father Ralph almost immediately upon meeting which will last a lifetime. With Meggie being 10 and Father Ralph being 28 when they met, at first it is a bond of tenderness but as Meggie grows into womanhood it develops into so much more. As much as Father Ralph wants to be with Meggie, he cannot ignore his vows he made to God. The romance between these two is where I think the sticking point would be for most people. Meggie is just a little girl when they meet and Father Ralph is a priest almost 20 years her senior but the love story here is beautifully done and not creepy at all. McCullough evolves the love between the two over time and the romantic relationship between the two doesn't heat up until Meggie is almost 18.

The picture Colleen McCullough paints of the harsh life in the Australian Outback with the droughts and fires, camaraderie between the ranchers and shearers and the back breaking work it takes to make a place like Drogheda a success pulled me right in. I was rooting for the Cleary family through every tribulation and heartbreak they faced (and there were many of them).The story does not stop with Meggie and Ralph although they are still involved all the way through. It also devotes sections to Paddy (Meggie's father), Luke-the handsome shearer who comes to stay on Drogheda, Fee (Meggie's mother) and Dane and Justine (Meggie's children). Although the parts on Meggie and Ralph are the best developed, the sections on the others are equally as fascinating.


Given that everyone under the sun has recapped the story, commented upon the relationship between the two main characters, Meggie and Ralph, or gushed about how McCullough brings the Outback to life, let me add a tidbit that is seldom covered: JUSTINE and RAINER HARTHEIM. Oh, how I adore these two characters, even more than Meggie and Ralph!

JUSTINE is so flawed, yet I can't help but root and care for her. Fragile, strong, bold, frightened, confident, insecure, talented, and lacking. She is such a human mix, and I can't help but empathize with her. She's an adorable b*tch--Rainer Hartheim lovingly calls her a monster--and I am in awe of Colleen McCullough for her ability to create such a character as Justine.

RAINER HARTHEIM... If I were to dream up my sexiest man, Rainer Hartheim would be it. Like Justine, Rainer is a bit of a monster. He shuts down his emotional self for a substantial period of his life, and he is remorseless in his pursuit of his goals. Yet throughout all of this, he is completely aware of what he's doing, and of who and what he is. He feels shame for his past actions; but if he had to do it again, he would. He accepts his past actions, but moves on with the self-promise that he will, from this point forward, be the person he wants to be, someone of whom he can be proud. I love Rainer's patience; perseverance; spirit; spirituality; control; ambition; incredible intelligence; sophistication; philosophical acceptance of life, others, and himself; loyalty; heart; sensuality; and truth to self. He's a man who loses himself; and when he regains himself, he is completely aware of and deeply thankful for it. A powerful individual, and a presence one can never ignore.
Overall it is a must read as it makes us realize love is not just demanding and wanting its more so about giving and sacrificing. ( )
  AlexisLovesBooks | Feb 9, 2016 |
A good read if you're in the mood for a grand epic. ( )
  Belles007 | Jan 17, 2016 |
This book took me awhile to read but it was worth it. Anything that could happen to a family in the span of 50 years happens in this book. The characters are amazing and you get fully wrapped up in their lives wanting to know how things turn out. ( )
  Tabatha014 | Jan 15, 2016 |
While things didn't end up how I was hoping, I actually enjoyed reading this book. ( )
  CassandraSabo | Dec 5, 2015 |
This is the saga of a family living and ranching in the rough outback country of Australia. It spans several generations but the main focus is on the daughter Meggie and her love for the local priest and his love for her. Meggie's love is unwavering but the priest is ambitious and moves up in the ranks of the Catholic church. The story also includes the ups and downs, success and tragedies of the other family members. Several of the main male characters had great psychological insight into people, which didn't seem realistic to me. Otherwise, it was a well-paced, entertaining read. ( )
  gaylebutz | Jul 29, 2015 |
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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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380018179, Paperback)

Now, 25 years after it first took the world by storm, Colleen McCullough's sweeping family saga of dreams, titanic struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian Outback returns to enthrall a new generation. As powerful, moving, and unforgettable as when it originally appeared, it remains a monumental literary achievement—a landmark novel to be read . . . and read again!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:17 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The epic story of a priest torn between God and human passion and a beautiful girl desiring only what she cannot have, spanning five decades of ambition, fear, longing and revenge, and set against the vast horizons of Australia's Outback.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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