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4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  241,151 Ratings  ·  3,988 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 590 pages
Published 1984 by Chr.Erichsen (first published 1977)
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Zadignose This question is similar to asking "should Catholics believe in God?" The answers given so far (all fundamentally "no") are based on the presumption…moreThis question is similar to asking "should Catholics believe in God?" The answers given so far (all fundamentally "no") are based on the presumption that Catholicism is bullshit. If you don't presume that, the answer isn't so straightforward. Taking the outsider's perspective, it's easy to reject another's faith. Should Christian Scientists go to the doctor when they're sick? If I have contempt for their faith, obviously the answer is "yes, you're sick, go to the doctor." Because, obviously, I don't believe what they believe.

As far as Catholics and the attitudes towards priests and celibacy, well... love of family and love of a woman might sound all nice, but Jesus himself had no special love or consideration for his own family, he didn't care much even for his own mother, the Holy Virgin, and he told his disciples to abandon their families and devote themselves entirely to spreading the Word of God.

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Tante Zoe I read an article by Germaine Greer where I think she mentions that it is likely to be set in or around Walgett....
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I've wanted to read this book for years, but I'm glad I waited till I was at a stage in my life when I might appreciate it the most (though it wasn't deliberate). I didn't know anything about the story before I started except that it's a classic Australian novel, epic in scope, and was made into a mini-series or something starring Rachel Ward years ago. I like not knowing much about books before I read them, though: it leaves you wide-open for the story to be told, and absorbed.

This is indeed an
Sep 09, 2013 Neena rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, epics
It seems I'm one of very few who did not like this novel. The thing that amazes me is why would anyone give it more than two stars? I am not into romance genre but I have enjoyed many good romance books. This love between Maggie and Ralph was so unreal, kind of pathetic. The dilemma of all characters seemed funny to me. Here it goes like this....

Ralph: I truly love you Maggie but I love 13 million pounds and power more. I am sorry love, we can't live together but we can meet secretly once every
Feb 12, 2014 Nettle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my fucking God. This book. I was standing in the kitchen this morning angrily chopping veg and I couldn't work out why, then I realised, it was this book just making me irrationally angry, when I wasn't even reading it!

Tragedies within the first 50 pages, let's list them.

1. She gets a lovely doll!
1.5 Doll is trashed.
2. She gets sent to school at last!
2.5 School is terrible she's beaten every day.
3. It's ok she makes an awesome friend!
3.5 Friend hates her, fuck you, nits.
4. She realllly wants
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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The Thorn Birds is one of those books that might be as great as I remember . . . or it might have been a real turd. However, it consistently pops up on my feed due to other friends reading it and I felt it was high time to explain my 5 Star rating (and Tadiana’s review of a different book added some inspiration).

Here’s the deal. This was the first book I ever stole from my mother. It was right after the miniseries came out, I was lik
Oct 30, 2011 Xenia0201 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I read this for the first time in 4th grade. (I hid it in my room for a month b/c this is sooo not a book for a 10 year old!!) My father is an ex-Catholic priest who left the church for my mother so when the mini series came out, the world stopped in my house for an entire week. It's an epic saga about an Irish farming family who relocated to Australia to help work at an ailing aunt's ranch. The book spans some 40+ years of hardships they encounter. The only daughter, Meggie, falls in lo ...more
Oct 09, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Thorn Birds is a beautifully written Australian novel. This story spans over three generations of the Cleary family. It mainly centres around young, Meggie who is the only girl in the family. Meggie's mother only has eyes for her sons which leaves. Meggie feeling very unloved by her mother. Growing up there are many things, Meggie needs to know about life in general, but Meggie knows she can't ask her mother. So Meggie turns to the the local priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart for answers. Ra ...more
Feb 12, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: top-100-list
I LOVED this book, and until I read the last paragraph I couldn't figure out WHY! What was so utterly unexpected for me is that the reason I love this book is precisely the exact reason I would have hated just yesterday it seems?!!? If that makes ANY sense. I almost feel like I have a different outlook on life than I did one day ago...much less one year ago...but I didn't realize it until THIS book.
This book is an impressive tale with all of life's elements fact, it is a tale ABOUT
Oct 12, 2008 Kathi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read this book when it was popular (when I was in high school) because my mother wouldn't let me - because of the affair the Priest has. I was also banned from watching the made-for-t.v.-movie. Well, a few months ago she was getting rid of a bunch of books & asked me if I wanted any of them & The Thorn Birds was in there. I asked if I was allowed to read it now that I was 46 yrs. old????
I gave this book 5 stars because it immediately pulled me in & the characters were so re
On the face of things, The Thornbirds wears the guise of a romance novel, the story of forbidden love, but that's only the novel's outward guise. I think anti-romance would be a better way to define this novel. In fact- in this way- The Thornbirds reminds me of the pulitzer-prize winning Lonesome Dove which- I would argue- is actually an anti-Western. Both The Thornbirds and Lonesome Dove find the outer reaches of their chosen genres (romance or western) and then push as far as they can, fightin ...more
Célia Loureiro
Fora-me dito que “Pássaros Feridos” era um livro sobre o amor proibido entre uma nova zelandesa e um padre. Colocá-lo assim é simplista demais. É um livro que põe em perspectiva as vidas, os papéis, as obrigações, as dores de alma e os desafios que cada um está fadado a enfrentar.
A história começa com uma família de imigrantes irlandeses com várias crianças a passar dificuldades na Nova Zelândia, no início do séc. XX. É no seio dessa família que a única menina, Maggie, começa a procurar o seu lu
I really enjoy epic stories and sagas, big sweeping stories that enmesh the reader in the characters and their lives, and make the reader more than just a bystander watching the action, but a sort of participant. We want things to go a certain way, we want things to go well, because we care about the characters, and we have invested our hopes in them.

Colleen McCullough has an almost magical skill in making her characters real and believable and true. That is what I love most about reading, and
Apr 29, 2008 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for an engrossing holiday book
Shelves: a-good-read
This is one of the books I scorned for years. Romantic fiction - I used to think - is fluff for bimbos. Since I consider myself literate and intelligent (yeah, really!) I wouldn't touch this sort of book. Bizarrely, I was not ashamed to read even the most extreme - and extremely inane - crime fiction. ("After all, we all need to relax now and then." Hmmmph!)

Well, now I'm older and wiser and more inclined to read books for enjoyment than for the pleasure of imagining how people will be impressed
Erin (Paperbackstash) *Proud Book Hoarder*

“When we press the thorn to our chest we know, we understand, and still we do it.”

Apparently this is another highly-regarded book I don't get the appeal of. I'd been excited to read this for awhile, and when I started it, my mother told me my aunt loved the movie. Not knowing the story, I had high hopes.

This is basically what happened when I read The Thorn Birds:

First 10 pages - Strange family, love the writing style, awesome.
First sixty pages - Interesting conflicts between characters who stand
Shobhit Sharad
Dec 29, 2015 Shobhit Sharad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shobhit by: Yoana
I wanted to be impressed by this book, after reading so many positive reviews, and I am impressed, but not to the extent that would justify to me its heaps of praises.

The story was good. Though a quite many important parts of the story were rushed up, I liked reading about Australia, and the changing world along with the changing story. The thing I disliked most about the book was that many of its characters' decisions were counter-intuitive, and it happened a lot of times.

Except for the protago
Aug 08, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Two stars for decent writing, zero stars for plot and characters. Everything about the story itself just felt flat and clumsy to me. The only character I found remotely interesting was Justine, and the only romance I cared about was between Justine and Rainer. And that was only in the last seventy-five or so pages. Reading the rest of the book just felt like a chore.

I hated Ralph. He seemed manipulative and sketchy and at the same time didn't really feel like a real human being. I was super cre
I seldom read romance novels and only picked this up because the title sounded familiar. I learned later that's because there had been a television adaptation of the novel. This foray into the genre only reaffirmed why I avoid the genre in the first place: the book is overly melodramatic; the characters are unlikable and one dimensional. The love between Father Ralph and Meggie bothered me; it didn't seem real enough and the age difference and the circumstances in which they met (she being a chi ...more
There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and Go ...more
Aug 15, 2007 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Good Lord -- when did this book come out? 1978 -- I must have read it in the early 80s. This is one of the books that defined my reading tastes afterwards. I remember my mother reading this when it first came out. She sat in a hardback kitchen chair in our harvest gold kitchen and just read and read. Years later I did the same thing. It is funny now -- the Catholic priest angle that was so shocking back then seems rather quaint now. Still -- this is a book that shaped the multi-generational tale ...more
Saoirse Sterling
Read as part of the #InfiniteVariety2016 Reading Challenge based on the BBC's Big Read poll.

I genuinely can't be bothered to write anything particularly coherent for this book: it just really isn't what I'm in to. It's that kind of genreless-family-saga-romance job that doesn't enamour me even in the slightest. In terms of punctuation, grammar and spelling and all that lardi-dah, it's pretty decent, but I can't say it was anything else.

It's fairly bucolic at times and as a result the storyline j
Tânia F
Jan 13, 2012 Tânia F rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Adorei. Adorei. Adorei. É um livro que prende da primeira à última página. É uma história sobre sofrimento, persistência e resiliência. Retrata a história de uma família inicialmente na Nova Zelândia, mas que cedo parte para a Austrália (e como há tanto tempo eu anseio por visitar a Austrália...). Aí relata essencialmente a vida rural, de muita poeira e ambiente cinzento, longas extensões de terra árida, com condições meteorológicas extremas, intercalando épocas de profundas secas com enormes ch ...more
Cátia Santos
Mar 01, 2015 Cátia Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quatro estrelas porque a saga desta família comove-nos, realmente... no entanto, quatro estrelas porque toda esta história comoveria igualmente com menos páginas.

E no final, toca-nos de forma profunda!
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 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.
Jan 11, 2015 Masumeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
فکر میکردم عاشقانه خواندن از من گذشته،همه جور عاشقانه خوانده ام و دیگر قصه ای نیست در این باب که برایم جذاب باشد. این کتاب هم نبود. تا صفحه ی سیصد با یک احساس ملال خواندمش و منتظر یک اتفاق یک هیجان یک چیز غیر قابل پیش بینی.بعد ترش اما کار به جایی رسید که میخکوب نشسته و سرمستش می شدم. نمی دانم بسته به سنم بود یا نه هر وقت دیگر هم میخواندم باز هم این نوع روایت از عشق برایم جذاب بود!دوستش داشتم.آن نبرد نابرابر بین عشق به خدا و عشق به موجود زمینی.آن تلاش بی وقفه و امید برای غلبه بر رابطه ی آسمانی. ب ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The thorn birds, Colleen McCullough
عنوانها: مرغان شاخسار طرب؛ آخرین پرنده در شاخه ای تنها؛ آخرین پرنده؛ پرنده خارزار؛ مرغان خارزار؛ و مرغ خار

Nov 28, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group-reads
692 pages of a wonderful family saga. I loved it all.....the secrets, the family, the bonds, the deceit, the stubbornness, the pride and the love!!!! Sooooo goooood!
Nicole Karlson
Nov 08, 2015 Nicole Karlson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delicious piece of literature! This is my kind of book. A love that's unattainable, forbidden, forever. I loved every page. The interweaving love stories and heartbreak from one generation to the next was exhilarating. I fell in love with the whole family. And, of course Father Ralph too! The emotions I felt when I read this book...this one has them all. The happiness, the pain, the passionate love....Colleen McCullough is a master storyteller and I can't wait to read more of her work. No ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-read
Colleen McCullough is a great storyteller in the Celtic tradition continued by Maeve Binchy. This is a book for women who want to dissolve into a story and be transported into that world. It was such fun! Who can forget the TV miniseries and Richard Chamberlain as the priest in love with the incomparable Meggie played by Rachel Ward. Mothers and daughters and grandmothers all watched, with their box of Kleenex by their side. It seemed to begin the US love affair with Australia...the next we knew ...more
Sandi Layne
Mar 17, 2013 Sandi Layne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy the sweeping tale that last decades. Watching characters as children, to see how they came to be who they are as "their" part of the story reaches the climax, fascinates me. Growth and change told in time spans that make sense, seen rather than related -- it's a rich way to be able to tell a story.

The Thorn Birds is a painful story. In my mind, I am plagued by what-ifs. What if Ralph had not fallen into Mary Carson's well-crafted web? What if he had done what he perhaps should have done
Jul 08, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Epics, Love Stories
Recommended to Sarah by: My Mom
One of the faintest memories I have of my childhood, is watching my Mom and Grandmother watch the miniseries, The Thorn Birds. At the time (around 3 years of age I would think), I didn't *understand* why they seemed so broken hearted, yet enchanted by what they were watching unfold on screen. I remember vaguely, the image of a priest in love with a young girl, a vast landscape, and an actor who went by the name of Chamberlain. That's all.

Fast forward 10 around 12 years. After I finished the epi
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Mary Carson's Fault? 9 57 Mar 07, 2016 10:29AM  
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Colleen Margaretta McCullough AO (married name Robinson, previously Ion-Robinson; 1 June 1937 – 29 January 2015) was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds.

Source: Wikipedia.
More about Colleen McCullough...

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“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain… Or so says the legend.” 459 likes
“There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone's heart. ” 240 likes
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