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The Thorn Birds

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  229,610 ratings  ·  3,779 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, 673 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (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.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellWar and Peace by Leo TolstoyMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleLes Misérables by Victor Hugo
Big Fat Fiction - Best of the Heavyweights
27th out of 260 books — 114 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire by Suzanne CollinsMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Birds on a cover
38th out of 312 books — 92 voters

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(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
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
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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
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
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
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
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
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 fact, it is a tale ABOUT
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Cátia Santos
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!
Loved this book!
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.
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
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!
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
Nicole Karlson
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
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
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 –
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
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
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
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
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The Challenge Fac...: Stacie, Angie & Nichole - The Thorn Birds 16 16 Nov 22, 2015 03:45PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough 2 13 Sep 07, 2015 05:04PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Fix cover image 2 19 Jun 28, 2015 07:06AM  
Mary Carson's Fault? 7 38 Jun 26, 2015 06:44AM  
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Colleen McCullough AO (born 1 June 1937) was an internationally acclaimed Australian author, born in Wellington in central west New South Wales to James and Laurie McCullough.

Colleen grew up during World War II. Before entering tertiary education, she previously earned a living as a teacher, librarian, and journalist. In her first year of medical studies at the University of Sydney she suffered de
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.” 435 likes
“There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone's heart. ” 230 likes
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