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The Thorn Birds [Paperback]

Colleen McCullough
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 1978

Now, 25 years after it first took the world by storm, 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. As powerful, moving, and unforgettable as when it originally appeared, it remains a monumental literary achievement -- a landmark novel to be read . . . and read again!

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Product Description


"A heart-rending epic...truly marvelous" -- --Chicago Tribune

"A perfect Read...The kind of book the world blockbuster was made" -- --Boston Globe

"Beautiful...compelling entertaiment" -- unknown

From the Back Cover

Now, 25 years after it first took the world by storm, 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. As powerful, moving, and unforgettable as when it originally appeared, it remains a monumental literary achievement—a landmark novel to be read . . . and read again!

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On December 8th,1915, Meggie Cleary had her fourth birthday. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel with staying power Aug. 2 2002
"The Thorn Birds" looks like a story that will be with us for a while. It's certainly an above average novel in the "family saga" genre, even though I can't get quite as rapturous as many of the reviewers.
McCullough fits the cliche of "born storyteller." She puts a lot of words down on paper, spinning the yarn out a long, long time and with no small amount of extraneous stuff. For example, she devotes at least one hundred pages to the lives of Justine and Dane when what we really want to know is what happens to Meggie and Ralph -- the ill-fated lovers who dominate the book.
I don't find the love story of Meggie and Ralph all that compelling -- although it will keep you turning the pages. The real merit of "The Thorn Birds" is the vivid picture it gives of life on a sheep station in the Australian outback before about 1950 when life there became electrified and telephoneified, and more or less the same as everywhere else.
"Thorn Birds" would be better if it were cut down to about 500 pages from the present 700. It seriously falters when the emphasis shifts from the outback to the theater in London and the Vatican in Rome. These are dime-a-dozen stories, but life in the outback, now that's a tale worth telling! And the author does it well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet and a little frustrating July 19 2010
This novel truly is epic. The story and attention to detail is intriguing . . . that being said, I found some passages and characters more cumbersome than captivating. Strong, independent Meggie is suddenly weak and obsessed around the arrogant and somewhat emotionally obtuse Father Ralph . . . it became a bit tedious after some time to say the least. Back and forth and back and forth, too much drama and telling of the story as opposed to showing me the story. I don't know, this novel had all the makings of a great book, but something did not work for me, I think it was the somewhat irritating main characters. I would have loved to hear more about Fee or Frank, or any of the other beautifully introduced characters.
Yes, I know I am in the minority here, but I never felt engaged with any characters, and at the end I felt I was only just beginning to understand most of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless story of love, ambition, and struggle! April 7 2004
This is a truly a great and classic novel. I do not bestow these oft-overused adjectives lightly. This is a story of deep, rich, and forbidden love, betrayal, tragedy, and ambition. This is a truly wonderful story set primarily in Australia, circa 1915 and then spanning several generations to the post World War II era. McCullough writes a sprawling story which primarily centers on the forbidden love between an extraordinary woman and a good but ambitious priest.
This is the story of the Cleary family, originally from Ireland, who emigrate first to New Zealand, and early on, to Australia. The young Cleary daughter, Meggie, falls in love with the local Catholic priest, Ralph de Briccasart, who is a good and ambitious man who certainly does nothing to encourage this love, but who certainly returns it as he regards Meggie as the daughter he can never have. As Meggie matures, he comes to regard her in a more romantic way. A great struggle arises between this love on the one hand ("the forbidden rose") and his ambition to become a Cardinal or perhaps more, on the other.
There is much, much, more to the story than this, however. The novel transports the reader to Australia, and makes that country a real place to those of us who have never been there. This is also the story of the struggles of the Cleary family, as they battle with, and come to love, the rich outback country of Australia. This is an extraordinarily authentic and moving story that any review (or at least this one) can only fail to do justice.
McCullough's prose is simply outstanding, and her characters crackle with realism--they become utterly real people and the reader will become swept away with this wonderful story. The storyline never drags, and at no point does this novel ever fail to completely capture the reader's attention. This novel is not only a classic; it is a ripping good read! If you have not yet enjoyed this novel, you are in for a wonderful reading experience.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Epic?! Dec 29 2003
By Allyn
Meant to be an elegant, thrilling, enthralling story that would span the lives of a family over three generations, "The Thornbirds" begins in in 1915. The Clearys are living a harsh life in New Zealand until their fortunes are changed when a wealthy relative in Australia decides that they are to inherit part of her prosperous farm. When the family travels to Australia, they meet Father Ralph, a stunningly handsome and intriguingly mysterious priest who lives near their farm. Maggie, the only Cleary daughter, falls deeply in love with Father Ralph. He longs to return this love, but as a priest, cannot. This complicated love is the basic theme of the book; the many troubling issues that plague Maggie and the rest of her family are interwoven as well.
In some ways, it's ironic that this book just didn't do it for me. "Gone With the Wind" is one of my favorite books, and to many people, "The Thornbirds" is a similar type of book. Both novels are long-winded, elaborate sagas, each filled what are supposed to be intriguing and unusual characters and grand settings. But most of these criteria are exactly what I felt was wrong wtih "The Thornbirds." The long descriptions (there was one description simply of Australian wildlife was FOUR pages long) were for the most part ineffective here. Occasionally, when one was to introduce a character, or explain someone's psyche, these long descriptions were necessary. But more often, they were just a pain. I often found myself bored by the profusion of information, and felt that the author was "describing" just because she enjoyed doing it.
In addition to simply boring passages, the whole book felt very "uneven." In "Gone With the Wind," each chapter seems exciting and the book flies by.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book. have read it more than once.
Published 10 days ago by Anne Bourdeau
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Reread
So loved this read for the second time around! Perhaps even better the second time than the first. So much depth!
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read..
Not only a great romance between people but a romance with the land..It is obvious Colleen loves Australia
At times it was hard to put down.. Read more
Published 14 months ago by mujeres
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thorn Birds, a true classic
I grew up knowing that The Thorn Birds was one of my mothers favourite books. I purchased it and read it in less than a week - I literally couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Shauna MacKenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!
If you have seen the movie, you will love the book! A beautiful love story of the "forbidden" fruit kind. Read more
Published 16 months ago by N. Isles
4.0 out of 5 stars A great classic
I enjoyed this classic novel.....lots of intrigue....provides insight into the harsh reality of the outback in Australia and the influence of the Catholic Church on the lives of... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Pauline Faubert
5.0 out of 5 stars should be considered a classic
Looks like enough reviews have been written about how wonderful this book is. Just want to say this is a must read for anyone who enjoys a great family saga. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2010 by Halifax Mary
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching story
What I found amazing about this beautifully crafted love story is AMcCullough's exquisite writing style and his remarkable talent for this genre. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2005 by Sancho Mahle
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic novel with great timing
I love this book! It is a beautiful story with full of right & wrong turn-outs from this passionate forbidding love between Maggie and Ralph. Read more
Published on March 1 2005 by C.W.Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
Published on June 8 2004 by Melissa McCauley
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