The Thorn Birds
by Colleen McCullough
Publisher; Avon Books/New York/1977
Plot; The Australian Outback is tough. Only the brave attempt it and only the strongest survive.
The Thorn Birds chronicles the lives of three generations of the Cleary family as they struggle through life in the beautiful, yet dangerous and hard, Australian Outback. They start as a lower middle class family of five sons and one daughter in the New Zealand countryside and end up riding the great adventure which is the Australian bush, combating drought, flood and fire.
The story focuses on Meggie Cleary as she grows from a small child to a mature woman, all under the loving eye of priest Father Ralph be Bricassart, a haunted man who loves the church, but is also helplessly drawn the the young woman he has seen bloom.
My Thoughts; A brilliant story told by a brilliant storyteller. I have been witness to the genius which is Colleen McCullough before, but I can now see why she is considered one of Australia's best, and most loved, authors.
From the moment I turned the first page I was engrossed in this epic tale, not only as an Australian, but as a living breathing person.
Each character and event is mesmerising and I know that this story will stay with me for a very long time. I don't think I have had such strong feelings while reading a book, as I did with this tale. I felt as though every moment of pain and every moment of happiness was extended to me as I leafed through the pages.
McCullough has masterfully constructed this story.
There are plenty of tears to be shed throughout this story, I do warn you, but McCullough times them beautifully. Just as you come to understand and accept one moment of upset you are introduced to the next. Each moment is far enough away to give the reader time to adjust, without being so far they loose interest.
Having said this, Justine, whose time of introduction is again immaculate, is the character who gives this story the light comic relief it needs, just at the right moments.
I am not a fan of environmental description, meaning I do not usually like pages and pages of descriptive talk of rolling hills and crystal blue lakes. Fortunately McCullough's beautiful depictions of the Australian countryside are intoxicating (and not just because I am Australian).
I honestly cannot think of any negative feedback for this genuine chunk of golden literature.
The Thorn Birds is a book for all readers. It swoons with romance, it works the land, it dabbles in intrigue, it combats disaster and it shows the true nature of life.