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Review: The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough


Pages: 673

Original date of publication: 1977

My edition: 2010 (Avon)

Why I decided to read: re-discovered it in Borders while browsing

How I acquired my copy: Borders, November 2010

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!

Comments

Daphne said…
I read this in high school after the mini series with Richard Chamberlain came out - loved them both and of course had a huge crush on Father Ralph. Maybe that's why I married a guy named Ralph...
Misfit said…
I felt the same way, loved the book to bits as a younger girl but read it as an adult a few years ago and while good, it didn't rock my world either.
Alyce said…
I loved the book so much when I was a teenager. I haven't read it in many years though because I don't want it to lose that magic. I never really thought Dane was all that exciting, but loved the women's stories.

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