Thornbirds- Book Club Edition

by Colleen McCullough

Hardcover, 1977


User reviews

LibraryThing member drmarymccormack
I didn't care for this book. I read it because I remembered the mini-series from when I was a kid. This was a fairly boring book and I couldn't feel empathy for even one of the characters. Maybe I'm missing something?
LibraryThing member Kasthu
The Thorn Birds is actually a re-read. I first read this at about this time of year when I was thirteen, and ever since then it’s kind of been one of the books that defined my adolescence. The Thorn Birds is a classic about one family in New Zealand and Australia from WWI to the 1960s, especially focusing on the relationship between Meggie Cleary and Father Ralph de Bricassart.

Fourteen years after my first reading of this book, my opinion of it has changed somewhat. One of the things I remember most about it was that there was a lot of sex in it—and I mean a lot. This time around, I kind of skipped through all that stuff in order to get to the heart of the story—Meggie and Ralph. I must have been much more of a romantic the first time I read this book, because this time I found myself rolling my eyes at the dialogue and at how many times the reader was told how good looking Meggie and Ralph both were.

But despite the cheesiness of some parts of this book, the story is actually quite good. I especially enjoyed Justine’s story and her relationship with Rain. However, Luke drops off the face of the planet once Meggie leaves him; I would have liked to have seen more of a resolution to that story. It just didn’t make sense to me that someone like him would have taken Meggie’s defection so lightly. The relationship between Meggie and Ralph becomes almost nonexistent as Justine and Dane’s stories take center stage. And Dane, frankly, isn’t all that interesting!

From my first reading, I don’t remember Australia having so much of a role in the book, but actually it’s almost a character unto itself. McCullough’s descriptions of the places she writes about are beautiful. The story moves at a fast pace and it only took me a few days to finish; still, it’s not quite as good as I remember it being from the first time I read it. But people change!
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LibraryThing member jayne_charles
I'll almost certainly be alone in this, but I hated this novel sooooo much. So many novels base themselves around a character's attachment to a piece of land (Gone with the Wind comes to mind), but there has to be a credible reason for it, and I could see no reason for Meg to be so attached to Drogheda. We are just told she is and expected to accept it.

A hopelessly overstuffed, flabby book with whole sections (Justine in London for example) could have been dropped entirely. Yawn yawn yaaaaaawn. One of my all time least favourite books.
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LibraryThing member queencersei
Perhaps not a great novel, but a great read nonetheless. The Thorn Birds tells the story of Meggie Clearly, the only daughter in a large family of boys, growing up on a sheep ranch in Australia. Meggie is unloved by her cold mother and kept somewhat distant from her father and brothers. As a young child she forms a love for the local priest, Father Ralph. As Meggie grows into a lovely adult woman, Father Ralph is unable to fight is growing attraction to her. They begin a life-long, though ultimately doomed love affair. The story weaves many themes into the plot. Family dysfunction, forbidden love, alienation and redemption. Maybe the Thorn Birds is not great literature, but it is a compelling story that is difficult to forget.… (more)
LibraryThing member flutterbyjitters
very good book. this is the second McCullough, and i thoroughly enjoy how she writes, although a trifle long winded at times. but very good book.
LibraryThing member sycamore
A story theat pulls the reader into the heart and soul of each character.
LibraryThing member kawgirl
My mom didn't want me to see the mini series (back in the 80's), so I ran out and got the book instead. Eventually, I did see the mini series and the book is much more detailed than the mini series, which I eventually saw. The book is definitely better than the mini series. A good read for entertainment value.
LibraryThing member MOMERR2212
It started off as an innocent relationship and in time, developed into a serious forbidden love affair. One of the best books I ever read.
LibraryThing member jshillingford
The book is excellent, no doubt about it. But, this is a rare instance where I thought the tv miniseries was better! Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward bring the two main character more to life than words on a page can. Read the book, then watch the series.
LibraryThing member irinipasi
I haven't read this since I was a whimsical, romantic teenager, but I loved it then and think I would enjoy it just as much now. I am married to clergy now, so I think my perspective will have changed just a little bit. :)
LibraryThing member Omrythea
Simply the best tragic love story there is, with the possible exception of Romeo and Juliet. I re-read this one every few years or when I need a soul-cleansing cry. Meggie...
LibraryThing member thomasJamo
Great book. It revolves around a single family for about fifty years. A young girl falls in love with a priest and he with her, but obviously they cannot be together. It is magnificently written and I couldn't put it down. Wonderful.
LibraryThing member bronwyn52
a very good book about a priest torn between his vows as a priest and his love for a woman named maggie
LibraryThing member divyas102
This book started slow and it seemed to go on forever with a very detailed description of everything. But just stick to it and you will find quite an interesting story. I would have loved this book even more if Father Ralph had returned to Meggie for good and it turned out to be a happy ending. But then it wouldve just been another love story....… (more)
LibraryThing member emers0207
This book is a true classic! McCullough's saga of the Cleary family is an amazing story of love, loss and redemption. The characters are so vividly described that they stay with us long after the book is finished. It is the kind of story I go back and reread every few years just to have the Cleary's back in my life again.
LibraryThing member rosehurdercarney
Interesting, likable characters. Writing style could have been better.
LibraryThing member petiteflour
I couldn't put this book down, what a great story!
LibraryThing member SilversReviews
Read this book a long time ago...loved it...a girl falls in love with a priest and he falls in love with her.

They do get together, but of course it can't be.

Very interesting storyline...makes you laugh, cry, and hope.
LibraryThing member abigailyow
I've always wanted to read this book, since the time I heard about it. But it was not until recently that I'd gotten the chance to savour this gem of a novel. The thorn birds is a three generational novel, with engaging characters and a beautiful storyline.Challenging in its thickness and its descriptive writing, it took me several days to finish it. This, however, I can undoubtedly say was worth every second of my dear life. The story follows the Cleary's journey to the outback from New Zealand, after an opportunity comes to them. At first, a mite fearful of the prospect, the family eventually settles down and learn the way of life on Drogheda. From the climate, to shearing to problems such as the overpopulation of rabbits. The portrayal of everyday life in a novel, can be dry or dull at times. But in the hands of Colleen McCullough, it overcomes the said weakness and turns it into a highly informative storytelling. The characters here are beautifully woven, each endowed with genuine and raw human emotion. All the personages - from ones with the biggest cameo roles to even the smallest - are significant to the story. However, my favourite protagonist that stands above the huge cast of characters, is Ralph de Bricassart. A catholic priest and an ambitious one at that. We see his internal struggle for a love that would destroy his ideals in mere seconds when succumbed and his spiritual pursuit for something greater.The reason why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 was because of the last two chapters about Dane and Justine. I guess its just a matter of opinion because I'd rather read more about Meggie and Ralph - who I'd been following so intently from the very start.All in all, this is a novel that I'd recommend without a second thought. Especially if you're looking for an evocative, and well-written book. This is for you. ;]… (more)
LibraryThing member LizzySiddal
5-star review based on reading pleasure experienced 30 years ago!
LibraryThing member stevetempo
A captivating story/saga of unfulfilled deep love through three generations of women. The saga is balanced on the love story between Meggie Cleary and Father Ralph de Bricassart, Father Bricassart's Love for Meggie is strong but his vows to the church and his professed love of God is stronger. Meggie must cope with her deep devoted love for him and the hope that one day he might commit himself to her completely. Their story forms the main theme of this powerful but difficult and unreconciled love. This theme is advanced and varied in a wonderful story that spans 55 years. Ms. McCullough's writing style was perfect in evoking images for the heart and the mind. She paints this wonderful story through many of the events of the the 20th Century and describes a unique way of life in the Australian Outback. This is my first book by Ms. McCullough and I plan to check her others works as soon as I can. I strongly recommend the Thorn Birds for all, especially for those who enjoy historical romances.… (more)
LibraryThing member jenreidreads
What a beautiful, beautiful novel. Similar to GWTW with the star-crossed lovers, and it even reminded me a bit of Willa Cather's novels, because the land was truly its own character. I definitely need to own this one some day.
LibraryThing member AdonisGuilfoyle
I saw part of the grainy 1980s adaptation of The Thornbirds repeated on television recently, which was laughingly bad and hopelessly miscast (only Bryan Brown was actually Australian, I think), but also reminded me that I had a copy of the book knocking around somewhere. The last time I read Colleen McCullough's novel was around eight years ago, enough time to forget half of the plot and the florid purple colour of the prose!

I loved the descriptions of the Australian outback - the drought, the floods, the fire, the arid landscape, the sheep, the insects, the dry heat in one part of the country and the overpowering humidity in another - but most of the characters made me feel either nauseous or angry. Only Meggie's daughter Justine had any life about her, and I had to wade through two generations to meet her. All the women are strong but cold, and the men either weak or creepy. Matriarch Fee Cleary pops out six boys, including the obnoxiously nicknamed Jims and Patsy, and one girl, Meggie. Irish priest Ralph Raoul de Bricassart takes a shine to the ten year old girl on his first visit to the family homestead Drogheda, and commences to 'groom' her - there really is no other word - to be his ideal of innocence and beauty. Nothing more, because he's a priest, not a man! (So he keeps telling himself.) Of course, Meggie is ruined for life, and must have beautiful, charming, compassionate, multilingual Ralph for 'her man', and if she can't have him, she'll have his son, Dane, who is like Jesus to Ralph's God - sorry to blaspheme, but I finally figured out where Mccullough was heading with her two perfect specimens of manhood, and the comparison made me gag. Ralph is a ridiculous, overinflated romance hero - part of the reason I liked Justine so much is because she could see straight through him, and called him 'smarmy'. And McCullough leaves her readers in no doubt as to who they are supposed to love, and who to hate - she takes the 'omniscient' narrator to a whole new level!

So really, that's the book in a nutshell - fifty years and three generations of life on a station in the Australian outback, starting after the Great War and hop, skip and jumping through to the 1960s. Meggie falls in love with a priest, various people die bizarre deaths (the wild boar was my favourite), and the women stay strong for their undeserving men. As a portrait - or maybe a landscape - of Australian life, McCullough's book is a masterpiece, but it fails miserably as a moving, believable romance.
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LibraryThing member Lanetz
Read this when it first came out then again when it was made available for the kindle. Great family saga story.
LibraryThing member hamiltonpam
I thought this was an exceptional book.


Harper & Row (1977)

Original publication date


Physical description

560 p.; 9.13 inches
Page: 0.3457 seconds