Thornbirds- Book Club Edition

by Colleen McCullough

Hardcover, 1977



Fiction. Literature. Romance. Historical Fiction. HTML: "Beautiful....Compelling entertainment." â??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 Clearysâ??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 Bricassartâ??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." â??Chicago Tribune… (more)

Library's rating


½ (2168 ratings; 4)

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 purpledog
You can sum up this book in two words, Greek Tragedy though these days we would say dystopian. Regardless of the term you choose, I found the book had excellent prose and a wonderful plot despite that the characters lives were tragic more often than not.

I particularly liked the strong female
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character of Meggie and the way the family ties are such an important part of the story. There are lots of topics, i.e. love, greed, ambition, just to name a few, that the book touches on in the epic family saga. It would make a great choice for a book club because there is much to talk about.

I also loved all the descriptions of the Australian Outback. It made me want to make a trip there immediately. Even though this book was published a number of years ago, the story is still relevant and the characters relatable. Recommend.
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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
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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
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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 memccauley6
The Greatest Romance Novel of All Time.
I have read this at least a dozen times, and still love Meggie, Ralph, Fee, Paddy & Frank. A classic, cannot recommend it highly enough.
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member JDpirate5
Colleen McCullough's sweeping saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian Outback has enthralled readers the world over. This is the chronicle of three generations of Clearys, ranchers carving lives from a beautiful, hard land while contending with the bitterness,
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frailty, and secrets that penetrate their family. Most of all, it is the story of only daughter Meggie and her lifelong relationship with the haunted priest Father Ralph de Bricassart—an intense joining of two hearts and souls that dangerously oversteps sacred boundaries of ethics and dogma.

A poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit, Colleen McCullough's acclaimed masterwork remains a monumental literary achievement—a landmark novel to be cherished and read again and again.
Sadly, because I hate to see any book damaged in any way, this book was also a victim of the freak wave. As it was in a bag, though, only the first fifty pages or so are wrinkled--and that, thank goodness, is ALL!

I'm not too distraught over this one, however, as I stopped reading it once I got to chapter two, Ralph.
I had been ho-humming it from the beginning, really, and had been forcing myself through because it was a gift and I actually wanted to be able to talk about it with the giver (ha ha. corny book joke).

I can't bring myself to go on with it, however. It's boring.
I know it's a super big classic, but my TBR pile is just so huge that I can't bring myself to endure this story when there's so much potential waiting for me.

This review is a post on my blog.
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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
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then it wouldve just been another love story....
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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 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 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
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Cleary's back in my life again.
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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 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 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 sycamore
A story theat pulls the reader into the heart and soul of each character.
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.
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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.
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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 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 Ayling
This is a book my mother has wanted me to read for a long long time. It is one of her favourite books and naturally she fancies Richard Chamberlain, from the 1980's mini-series. The story itself is not something that wholly interested me at all, but McCullough has a talent for getting under your
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skin with these characters. In some parts, it feels almost impersonal in the way she tells this story. It is not as if you are there amongst the Cleary's, it is as if she is there guiding you through it. I do not know if this is the norm for Colleen McCullough as this is the first one of hers I have read. The Thorn Birds is the saga of the Cleary family - centring around the life and love of Meggie Cleary. It begins in 1915 and spans a time of fifty years. I don't generally like family sagas they tend to sweep over too much time. Sometimes, with merely a sentence or a paragraph she will sweep over times, often nothing more then a 'by the way, this happened whilst you were away...' but she does so with ease and authority I found it perfectly easy to accept. The endless description about the heat and the dryness, although well written, really started to tire me after a while it happened almost every other page! I'm not very good in the heat, I do not think I'll be going to Australia any time soon!Many of the characters left me angry and exasperated with them. I wish they would realise that they were not fated to be thorn birds - yet always they seemed to think they were already fated and could not turn back. McCullough however writes such wonderful characters - in nothing more then a few words you feel as if you already know them and can already picture them. I loved that.Overall though, I really liked it very much and I am looking forward to reading more of McCullough's books - which I think I will enjoy even more considering the story of The Thorn Birds far from excited me as a whole.
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LibraryThing member Jaguar897
I’m giving The Thorn Birds 4.5 stars. I honestly would not have read this if not for a certain McCollough fan mentioning it. I knew the mini-series from when I was younger and even remember watching a few episodes, but I didn’t recall the whole story and never found it appealing to pick up on
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my own. Well, I’m glad I listened to her recommendation

The Thorn Birds is a classic epic story spanning several generations of the Cleary family. The novel mostly centers on the life of Meggie, the only girl in a family full of sons, and how her upbringing led to her relationship with Father Ralph de Bricassart. I didn’t think I was going to be as interested in the story as I thought I was, but McCollough’s writing was so simplistic and interesting that it had me turning the pages. The story also took me out of my comfort zone and had me questioning the Catholic religion. I read this with a group of close GoodReads friends and there was some very interesting and eye opening dialogue amongst us. It made the book all the more interesting to me. :-)
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LibraryThing member amandacb
I've heard so many things about this book and movie that when I saw a freshly purchased copy at my local library, I had to pick it up. I was not disappointed in the epic story; it utterly engrossed me and kept me occupied for a couple of weeks. However, a couple of things: the relationship between
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Meggie and the priest absolutely creeped me out.
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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
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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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Harper & Row (1977)

Original publication date



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