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The Thorn Birds

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  202,696 ratings  ·  3,333 reviews
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 bitternes ...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1977)
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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleLes Misérables by Victor HugoWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Big Fat Fiction - Best of the Heavyweights
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34th out of 262 books — 75 voters


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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
...more
Xenia0201
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
Sharon
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
Neena
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
...more
Nettle
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
...more
Becky
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
...more
Kathi
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
...more
Heather
Feb 12, 2008 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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 present...in fact, it is a tale ABOUT
...more
Armand
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
Fiona
Apr 29, 2008 Fiona rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Tânia F
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
Kelly
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
Chick_Flick
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
Fiona
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.
...more
Arlene
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
Sarah ( Paris )
رائعةٌ هذه الرواية ..
ليس من جملة أخرى تصفها ..

أنهيت الأجزاء الثلاث للتو ..

ملحمة آل كليري ..
من العام 1915 وحتى 1969

ولكن الـــ 1327 صفحة التي تتكون منها الرواية
لا يمكن أن يفيها حقها ريفيو بسيط كهذا ..
رغم طولها إلا أنها ليست مملة :)
تحولت الرواية إلى مسلسل في أستراليا ..

ربما يوما ما أعود وأكتب ريفيو أسطوري عنها
..


أرشحها لكل محبي الروايات الخفيفة ذات الطابع الرومانسي المختلط بالتاريخ .
Kathryn
I finished this book a couple of days ago and I loved it! It’s my first Colleen McCullough and it is certainly an Australian classic (shame on me for not reading it before this!). But I shall definitely be reading more McCullough at some point to rectify my earlier omission!

It’s the story of a family spanning 54 years from 1915, beginning in New Zealand, up to 1969, having encompassed characters’ lives in Australia, Europe and England. I was a little daunted by the size – 743 pages in my copy –
...more
Laura
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!
Candace
BUDDY READ WITH ELLA + ALYSSA TOMORROW! SHOULD BE EPIC!

Filipa
Este livro foi dividido em duas partes por mim:

A parte que adorei ler e a a outra parte que se tornou bastante aborrecida. . .

A história acompanha ao longo de mais de 50 anos a família Cleary, um casal, Fee e Paddy com os seus sete filhotes. E quando escrevo que acompanha, acompanha mesmo as suas vidas, pois temos páginas e páginas a falar dessa mesma vida de campo, sendo que dirigem uma extensa herdade com vários rebanhos e extensos pastos. Sendo tosquiador de profissão, o pai Cleary ensina a
...more
Sarah
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
...more
Suzanne
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
Judy
Jan 16, 2013 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Judy by: Chelsea & Connie
There is a legend about a bird that sings just once in its life more sweetly than any other creature on earth. So begins The Thorn Birds, the story of the Cleary family originally from New Zealand, but whose fate entwined with the Australian Outback and the soil of Drogheda ranch. Most of the Cleary family finds their songs amidst the dust and grime of ranch life. Some are destined to melancholy songs, others eventually find a song of joy, but each has their own unique song.

One superlative song
...more
Lauren Kennedy
I tried reading this book at 14, couldn't get past the first 30 pages. I tried again about a year ago and still didn't like it. For some reason I decided to try it for a third time at 18 year old and I'm so glad I did! It has become one of my all time favourite books.

I have never seen the tv show but it seems like that is more about the romance between Meggie and Father Ralph but the book is soo much more than that. It's a long family drama that spans several decades. It begins when Meggie is 4
...more
Ana Filipa
Sem dúvida alguma, um livro magnífico!
O tempo que demorei a lê-lo (de 26/Maio a 1/Agosto) não foi, de maneira alguma, com o intuíto de lhe conferir menos credibilidade, comparada com a demais que confiro a outros.

Precisei de tempo. Tempo para interiorizar a estória que nos cativa mais e mais, à medida que o tempo avança.

O livro dá-nos a conhecer a história de uma família de três gerações que vive na Nova Gales do Sul, na Austrália, unida não só pelo sangue, mas também pela devoção que alguns mem
...more
Sandi Layne
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
...more
Sarah
Jul 08, 2008 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Beth
The Thorn Birds (TTB) is about Meggie Cleary and Ralph di Brisscart. Meggie Cleary is the only girl in a Cleary family dominated by men. When Meggie is 10 the Cleary's move to Austrailia from New Zealand for a great job opportunity. At this time Meggie meets Ralph di Brisscart - a priest. Their love for one another at first seems quiet harmless as she is 10 and he is 28 but as she turns into a women and doesn't understand why she can't have Ralph to herself as her husband their love for one anot ...more
Erin
First time I realized that the Earth puts nature first. If humans came first there would be more climates suitable for us. I was thinking about this because of the VAST difference in climate just in Australia alone. There's really no climate in the world where it's comfortable for humans all year round. I use to think of it as purely our test. To learn to deal with pesty bugs and snakes and weather but I think it's simply God putting them first for once - His beautiful creation. We're tough - we ...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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Something missing? 22 86 Dec 08, 2014 01:02PM  
Do you really think that Ralph never knew that Dane was his son? 9 47 Oct 22, 2014 12:48AM  
Favorite Character 2 11 Oct 15, 2014 10:09PM  
Would it have mattered? 23 228 Oct 15, 2014 06:55PM  
Fiction Fanatics: September 2014 - The Thorn Birds 10 25 Sep 25, 2014 02:40PM  
Meggie, was she wrong for not telling Ralph that Dane was his son? 1 17 Sep 22, 2014 07:10AM  
THE THORN BIRDS 78 533 Sep 01, 2014 04:05PM  
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2325
Colleen McCullough AO (born 1 June 1937) is an internationally acclaimed Australian author. Colleen was born in Wellington in central west New South Wales to James and Laurie McCullough.

McCullough was born in Wellington, in outback central west New South Wales, in 1937 to James and Laurie McCullough. She grew up during World War II. Before entering tertiary education, she previously earned a livin
...more
More about Colleen McCullough...
The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1) The Grass Crown (Masters of Rome, #2) Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome, #3) Caesar (Masters of Rome, #5) Caesar's Women (Masters of Rome, #4)

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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.” 383 likes
“There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone's heart. ” 193 likes
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