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The Thorn Birds

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  470 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
“Beautiful….Compelling entertainment.”
New York Times

“A heart-rending epic…truly marvelous.”
Chicago Tribune

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, 673 pages
Published September 6th 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Community Reviews

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Mar 25, 2016 Cher rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic
3.5 stars - It was really good.

I really wish the reader could have been in Ralph's thoughts after the major event near the end of the book. It felt rushed and like two bombshells were dropped on him with almost no exploration of the aftermath. More extensive review to possibly come when life is less busy...
Favorite Quote: God seemed light-years away, as if He had withdrawn to allow His human creatures full rein in destroying the world He had made for th
May 01, 2015 Kaethe rated it liked it
January 1, 1980

I wonder how many girls are called Meggie these days? Forbidden love makes up for the outback setting, although I do like sheep.


April 30, 2015

What is the point of this cover? I don't get why Molly Ringwald is on it, nor what that little cottage is meant to indicate. Okay, sure, you don't want to use a still from the series shot in Hollywood, fine. But how about a woman on horseback? Or an Australian station house? Just a thought. Even a zippy little sports car would make more s
Jan 16, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it
It started out very good and interesting. Well written, interesting characters, forbidden love, all that good stuff. But then it was like the author couldn't let the story end. At about 3/4 of the way through I lost interest, but had already invested 500 pages worth of reading. The author even stopped following her main characters in the last 100 pages. Another bad thing: the author would spend 100 pages on a few days in the characters lives, then in one page jump up to 10 years later and kill o ...more
May 10, 2016 Alexa rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I have had this book on my tbr list for years. Finally, last week, I picked it up and started the large tome, starting from a contemporary paper back. My second copy. Then I finished the book on my iPad. The later half goes much quicker. I did read a large amount prior and set it down. Interesting what you feel when you have a better grasp/ mood for a book.

What did I think? It was pretty good. It reads like a train and chuggs along. Some scenes were written well and passed too quickly. I also e
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
5 Stars

I fell in love with this book plain and simple. The movie adaptation of The Thorn Birds faithfully adhered to Colleen McCullough’s epic saga of the Cleary family, Drogheda, and Ralph de Bricassart in the unforgiving Australian Outback. Meggie Cleary is wonderfully dimensional from when we first meet her as a wee child to the old woman she is at the end of the book. My heart swelled and broke for her all throughout the story. Her love for Ralph de Bricassart did not offend me as a traditio
Edith S
Apr 03, 2010 Edith S rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is my kind of book: an epic family saga with a strong sense of place. I hate to give it only three stars, but I've had to conclude that while it has its strengths, it doesn't live up to what it could have been.

The Thorn Birds starts off excellently, detailing the day-to-day life of a family struggling to get by in early twentieth century New Zealand. It's well-written, it feels very realistic, and there's a strong sense of place. There's believable conflict among the family members without
Apr 15, 2009 Deodand rated it it was ok
I believe no one's well-read unless they've read many genres. I know people who only read certain subjects; to me, they're missing out. I don't read romance at all but I've always given the classics a chance, so here I am at it again.

I almost threw this one over my shoulder at page 30 from the endless mentions of red hair. McCullogh uses every possible synonym for the word "redhead" - sometimes it seems like once per page. It's very tiresome and gets in the way of the story. We get it, the famil
Feb 11, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
I read this years ago, and decided to listen to the audio book. Funny, but second time around it wasn't quite as good as I found it the first time: 3.5 stars instead of 4. Perhaps it was the audio book reader, or because I knew what was going to happen, I don't know, but the descriptions of the harsh Australian outback were still just as beautiful.
Jul 27, 2014 Lesley rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
I haven't read a book like this in a long, long time. There were a few points, particularly in the wordier parts of the novel, that I felt a bit bored and had to push myself through it, but whenever it got back to the character dynamics, I was hooked. The ending was bittersweet, but everything was pieced together and laid out so beautifully, from one generation to the next, that this novel really couldn't have ended any other way.
Oct 15, 2015 Nesha rated it it was amazing
Like most of the period dramas I read, I had already saw the movie before reading this book . However, although I knew what was coming, I gotta admit I was still surprised throughout the book.
The Thorn Birds is a great story. I definitely recommend and hope you don't get scared off by its amount of pages. It actually worth reading! 5 stars : D
Mar 27, 2007 Arghavan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: real lovers
never to give up my love for anything in this world and also remember the most beautiful and precious gift in the world is loving someone and to be loved in return.
Mar 16, 2014 Alyssa rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, and I can't believe I hadn't even heard of it until about a week ago. Upon hearing about it I knew it was right up my alley, so I went and bought a copy and started reading it that very day.

I love stories like this, sagas that follow the main character throughout their life, and show all the varied events in a lifetime and the far-reaching effects that big events have, rather than just focusing on the events themselves. The psychological depth of the main characters was fascin
Apr 14, 2016 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 24, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
This is book that I find the need to add to my "favorites" list immediately. There's definitely a reason that this book has become a classic. It's a saga of a book that encompasses 4 generations of sheep farmers who live on a massive property in the Australian outback. But at the heart of the story is the curse of just-out-of-reach love that seems to plague the family. And McCullough, fabulous storyteller that she is, weaves this curse in such a way that the last half of the book keeps you turni ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Claire rated it really liked it
Recommended to Claire by: My friend Shridath
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kards Unlimited
Oct 15, 2013 Kards Unlimited rated it it was amazing
Marlie's Pick!

"There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in it's 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
Mar 04, 2010 Barb rated it really liked it
If you stop and think about it, this is a pretty damned depressing book filled with mostly heart break and misery ... yet it doesn't feel that way when reading it. You just 'experience' it, deal with it and move on from it with the characters as they do. I did find myself uncomfortable with the main 'love story', and not because he was a priest. I liked Meggie, but not Father Ralph (creepy & sneaky). If I ever rooted for them to be together it was so Meggie could find some joy ... then was a ...more
May 31, 2012 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Choose this book since we were traveling to Australia, but ended up not reading it until we came back. I'm glad, because I think having a better understanding of the Australian history and her people made this a much more enjoyable book. It is an ambitious read (it IS an epic), but definitely worth it. There is a compelling story line, but it really is much more of a gripping character study. I was genuinely interested in seeing how each personality developed and what challenges they would overc ...more
Apr 21, 2011 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: untrue
I picked this book up because I was craving a long, complex, and emotionally rich story that spanned generations. While I do enjoy the story, I feel like the characters are not quite as likeable as I had hoped, nor do I feel a very strong connection with their experiences. Yes, there are some situations that arise that are sad, lovely, and relateable, but the majority of the book is quite boring. The Australian setting is quite interesting, especially during this particular time period, but asid ...more
Apr 30, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it
Although I can't really recommend this book in good conscience because it deals with illicit love, I loved it nonetheless. And, although this is what I call "fluff" reading (purely for pleasure, non-thinking reading), this book really is informative about the Catholic Church and Irish family life and society. I have a fascination with all things Irish. It was made into a TV Mini-series in 1983 with Richard Chamberlain (swoon) and the music was fabulous. This appears to be a One Hit Wonder for Mc ...more
im a candidate of a priest. this book is very useful for my reflection, especialy to see the priesthood clearly. every moment of our life will open our mind to the reality of the other. i have to understand my partner es they are. i can't be a good person if only see the other just by my perspective. Ralph is a human priest. Dean is the other version of reality.
ang how about meggie?
she is an angel who will purify the true faith.
she represent our struggle today.
Jul 21, 2012 Suzie rated it liked it
While I found this book interesting and read the whole thing it ultimately left me frustrated. I think this quote from Fiona's review sums it nicely.

"Many of the characters left me angry and exasperated with them. I wish they would realise that they were not fated to be thorn birds - yet always they seemed to think they were already fated and could not turn back. "
Oct 22, 2012 Anita rated it liked it
Shelves: bbc-big-read
My personal impression of this book was "Gone with the Wind, but set in Australia". Meggie isn't a shallow ambitious man-eater like Scarlett, and the plot lines aren't really identical. I guess there was just a general similar feel - a sweeping glance into the culture of large, wealthy, agricultural homesteads, given to us through the story of a complicated romance.
May 06, 2010 Leigh rated it it was amazing
Why do I feel like no one writes good epics anymore? I love me a damn good epic and The Thorn Birds certainly qualifies. Drama, grief, longing, love of all kinds - passionate, familial, religious, unrequited... And that's not the half of it. For me, this was just a lovely story that wraps you up tightly and doesn't let go until the last page.
Apr 05, 2007 Kamyar rated it did not like it
Simply I hate it! In this foolish book, everything is fake: love, passion, faith and fame. After watching the TV adaptaion, you may ask yourself how can he leave Rachel Ward behind, but reading the book, you may exclaim how one can believe two stupid puppets fall for each other, when there is no touch of magic and fascination!
Susan Howson
Dec 27, 2007 Susan Howson rated it did not like it
I'm stopping this book halfway through. I don't normally do this, but...I figure I'm only going to live another 50 years if I'm lucky, and considering I sleep 1/3 of that and work another 1/3, I really need to move along once I decide something is badly-written, romance novel crap. 300 pages is enough, I think.
May 23, 2013 Elizabeth rated it liked it
I would've really liked this novel except it gets incredibly boring towards the end. Just. Mind-numbingly boring. But if you're into books about Australia, books about hot priests and forbidden priest-younger woman relationships then this is totally for you.
Carol C
Feb 18, 2013 Carol C rated it liked it
The last 10% or so of this book was just blah to me. I enjoyed it most of the way through, and then when Justine became the focus of the story, it lost me. I also didn't care for the characterization of the mother-daughter relationship in general.
Erin (NY)
Mar 10, 2014 Erin (NY) rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I don't know much about Australian history, so I enjoyed learning about it. I did like how it traced the same family through history.
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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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