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The Thorn Birds (1977)

by Colleen McCullough

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,5481471,198 (3.98)275
Fiction. Literature. Romance. Historical Fiction. HTML:

"Beautiful....Compelling entertainment." ??New York Times

One of the most beloved novels of all time, The Thorn Birds, 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.

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.

"A heart-rending epic...truly marvelous." ??Chicago Tribune… (more)

  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 275 mentions

English (139)  German (3)  Greek (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (145)
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
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

I dont know if I would class this as "beloved" but I remember the mini series on the telly when I was growing up. It was one of the reasons I picked up the book. Both the book and the TV series present a wild, harsh and open landscape in Australia. The main memory of the book is the scandalous relationship between Father Ralph and Meggie - the priest already having been ordained and sent out to the parish at the same time as Meggie is born, and after years of resisting, they finally have a sexual relationship which produces a son. The relationship ceases as Father Ralph moves up the ranks in church and ultimately has to confront his past and his feelings as his son follows him into the church.

Rather than "beloved" I would use the word "Iconic", both as a piece of literature, but also as Australian novel, especially since the subsequent child abuse stories that have come out from within the church (I think Meggie was over age of consent before she entered in the sexual relationship with Ralph but it was borderline).
( )
  nordie | Oct 14, 2023 |
The Thorn Birds, or Everybody is an Idiot or Dead ( )
  emmby | Oct 4, 2023 |
Bodice ripper of my older adolescence! ( )
  schoenbc70 | Sep 2, 2023 |
2023 - ‘70’s Immersion Reading Challenge

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (1977, 1st ed.) 533 pages.

SETTING: Australia

3-stars. That’s it. I wanted to love this book because it has been on my bucket list of books to read ever since I was a senior in high school, 1983. The story started out pretty good, at least a 4-star, then suddenly turned flat about halfway through, with each generation on Draghedo (a sheep ranch) getting progressively worse. I couldn’t connect with the characters; therefore, I couldn’t care less what happened to them. The dialogue between the characters seemed unnatural at times, and the thought processes of the characters were a bit strange and rambling at times.

The Cleary family inherited Drogheda, a 30,000 acre sheep ranch in Australia’s Outback. It was a struggle, but they did learn, and they did keep it profitable and running strong during some of Australia’s severest droughts.

As the children grew up, Meggie, the only daughter of six, fell in love with the young and handsome Father Ralph de Bricassart. The premise of the story is based on this forbidden love between Meggie and the Priest and the mental repercussions of their decision to move their relationship from friendship to one of a sexual nature. And, I’m sorry to say, it just wasn’t that exciting. In fact, it was kind of strange that the Priest was so attached to Meggie, who was only 4 when she first arrived at Drogheda. He was about 21 years old. Now, nothing became of their relationship until later, but still, it just felt perverted until she was finally of age.

This paragraph pretty much explains the meaning of the title of the book, “The Thorn Birds”, and how it relates to the decisions we make in life (p. 390): “Each of us has something within us which won’t be denied, even if it makes us scream aloud to die. We are what we are, that’s all. Like the old Celtic legend of the bird, with a thorn in its breast, singing, it’s heart out and dying. Because it has to, it’s driven to. We can know what we do wrong even before we do it, but self-knowledge can’t affect or change the outcome, can it? Everyone singing his own little song, convinced it’s the most beautiful song the world has ever heard. Don’t you see? We create our own thorns, and never stop to count the cost. All we can do is suffer the pain, and tell ourselves it was well worth it.”

BOOK-TO-MOVIE

The Thorn Birds (1983) – TV mini series, starring Rachel Ward as Meggie Cleary and Richard Chamberlain as Ralph de Bricassart. ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
While the plot on re-reading is still intriguing, the main release goes on for way too long. ( )
  m.belljackson | May 10, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (54 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCullough, Colleenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ávila, Juan MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Behrens, H.G.MIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Binchy, MaeveIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borbás, MáriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cajado, Octávio MendesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christiansen, IbTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrer Aleu, JTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Göncz, ÁrpádTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grabowska, (tłumacz). MałgorzataTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, JacquesTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Halverson, JanetCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
I Grandi tascabiliIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Τράπαλη, ΒικτώριαTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Βικτώρια ΤράπαληTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Εκδόσεις BellEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kalett, JimAuthor Photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagerström, BertilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagrange, JacquelineTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linnamägi, AnneIllustreerijasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miliūnienė, Kristinasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monteiro, Aialasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nová, Soňasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oddera, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orma, A.W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Põder, Reinsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panske, GünterÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Põder, ReinJÄrelsÕna Autor.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rattus, Urmassecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, Karisecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scacchi, GretaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siikarla, EevaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strange, DerekEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamm, MerikeKujundajasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
tascabili, I GrandiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Annsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, MaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Галь, Нора Яковлевна,Translatorsecondary 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
[Fiona] plodded in her self-perpetuating circle of stove, worktable and sink as if nothing else existed.
"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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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Fiction. Literature. Romance. Historical Fiction. HTML:

"Beautiful....Compelling entertainment." ??New York Times

One of the most beloved novels of all time, The Thorn Birds, 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.

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.

"A heart-rending epic...truly marvelous." ??Chicago Tribune

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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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