Friday, October 29, 2010
Review: The Thorn Birds
Title: The Thorn Birds
Author: Colleen McCullough
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 (Cover Blurb).
I've let the size of this book intimidate me for much too long. Coming in at just under 700 pages, The Thorn Birds is one of the most amazing pieces of literature I have ever read. Chocked full of dram intrigue and scandel, it has consumed my life for the past week and a half. I've been fighting sleep at work because I can't put this book down to go to bed at night. The story of the Cleary family draws you in, making it difficult to think of much else.
The Thorn Birds is told in seven parts and covers a bit more than 50 years of the Cleary family's life. Most of the story centers around Meggie, the only daughter of Fee and Paddy Cleary. Meggie is only a young girl when the family first moves to Australia, and it then that she meets Fr Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph is a young Catholic priest struggling to find his place in the church and among men. The reader watches as Meggie continues to grow into a beautiful young women and her relationship with Ralph also grows. To tell more would almost be a sin, as all readers should experience this tale themselves.
At it's time of publication, The Thorn Birds created quite a scandel within the United States, especially with Catholics. Catholics found huge scandel in Fr. Ralph and the journey he choice to take with his life. Also, this book was seen to be a bit racy for the times, especially around the "older" generation who first read it. In fact, I can remember when the mini-series was first on TV, that my mother banned me from the room when it was playing. She said it was nothing that I needed to be seeing. However, it did not stop her from watching it...lol. Now as an adult, I understand her misgivings, especially considering the fact that we come from a very strong Catholic family. My Great Uncle served under the Pope in Rome for almost 30 years, and my younger brother is currently in seminary studying for the priesthood. I talked to him about The Thorn Birds, and he still finds it to be very scandalizing to the Catholic Church.
To me The Thorn Birds is one of those books you can sink your teeth into. The pages take you away to a far off country, to a time when life was slower and almost seemed to have more meaning. I often found myself lost in the pages, loosing track of time and reality. This book is most definitely one of my top ten favorite books, if not my favorite book of all time. I am so glad that I took the time to experience this story for all that it is worth.