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The Thorn Birds

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The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, the Clearys. It begins in the early part of the 20th century, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister; and it ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, the brilliant actress Justine O'Neill, sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots.

The central figures in this enthralling story are the indomitable Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, the stunningly handsome and ambitious priest Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph's course moves him a long way indeed, from a remote Outback parish to the halls of the Vatican; and Meggie's except for a brief and miserable marriage elsewhere, is fixed to the Drogheda that is part of her bones - but distance does not dim their feelings though it shapes their lives.

Wonderful characters people this book; strong and gentle, Paddy, hiding a private memory; dutiful Fiona, holding back love because it once betrayed her, violent, tormented Frank, and the other hardworking Cleary sons who give the boundless lands of Drogheda the energy and devotion most men save for women; Meggie; Ralph; and Meggie's children, Justine and Dane. And the land itself; stark, relentless in its demands, brilliant in its flowering, prey to gigantic cycles of drought and flood, rich when nature is bountiful, surreal like no other place on earth.

Alternate Cover Edition ISBN 0380018179 (ISBN13: 9780380018178)

692 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published April 1, 1977

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About the author

Colleen McCullough

150 books2,501 followers
Colleen Margaretta McCullough was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and Tim.

Raised by her mother in Wellington and then Sydney, McCullough began writing stories at age 5. She flourished at Catholic schools and earned a physiology degree from the University of New South Wales in 1963. Planning become a doctor, she found that she had a violent allergy to hospital soap and turned instead to neurophysiology – the study of the nervous system's functions. She found jobs first in London and then at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

After her beloved younger brother Carl died in 1965 at age 25 while rescuing two drowning women in the waters off Crete, a shattered McCullough quit writing. She finally returned to her craft in 1974 with Tim, a critically acclaimed novel about the romance between a female executive and a younger, mentally disabled gardener. As always, the author proved her toughest critic: "Actually," she said, "it was an icky book, saccharine sweet."

A year later, while on a paltry $10,000 annual salary as a Yale researcher, McCullough – just "Col" to her friends – began work on the sprawling The Thorn Birds, about the lives and loves of three generations of an Australian family. Many of its details were drawn from her mother's family's experience as migrant workers, and one character, Dane, was based on brother Carl.

Though some reviews were scathing, millions of readers worldwide got caught up in her tales of doomed love and other natural calamities. The paperback rights sold for an astonishing $1.9 million.

In all, McCullough wrote 11 novels.

Source: http://www.people.com/article/colleen...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,402 reviews
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,002 reviews36k followers
August 14, 2017
There could be thirteen million things to write about this book - but since I'm 'retired'.....only writing abbreviated reviews- I'll try to make this short. This novel must have been one of the most scandalous- talked about novels - to hit the book shelves back in 1977.
And..... it was a *FINE* read these past few days!!!!! By *FINE*, I mean a VERY ADDICTIVE compelling engrossing WONDERFUL read.....an epic that stretches our hearts beyond the Outback regions of Australia.

.....The relationship between Father Ralph de Bricassart and Meggie Cleary calls for a lengthy book club discussion- in itself!!
Father Ralph says: "I've known Meggie since she was ten years old, only days off the boat from New Zealand. You might in truth say I've known Meggie through flood and fire and emotional famine, and through death, and life. All that we have to bear. Meggie is the mirror in which I'm forced to view my mortality".

.....A theme that never got off the ground: Early in this novel, when Meggie was a small child - in school with the nuns- she became friends with a little black girl. Racial tensions between the families grew out of injustice when Meggie had lice in her hair.
We soon move into part II of the novel. All we learned was the black family had to 'move'. I thought we'd see more 'racial' injustice stories - but this novel never followed that path.

.....One of my favorite characters was Frank..... 'the way' we discover his where-a-bouts years later was so darn sad. The 'worsening psychosis' news comes with no background story. I was left hanging 'too' long. Frank was often in my thoughts... I wanted more of him. His love for his mother, Fee, and only sister Meggie reminded me of 'what's right' in life. But I wanted more of 'that' too- Yet so much tragedy-no Peace Frank's father - Paddy - while growing up.
Sad... just sad!

.....Mary Carson - sister of Paddy, ( Meggie's father) -was one hell of a nice lady -- ha!!!! A narcissistic snake! lol

"The good die young"... was the only sentence that brought me to tears - the scene with Dane.. was pretty emotional- and that damn sentence "the good die young" is once of those sentences that can piss me off - fast - if in 'the moment' of grief. My dad died young. I'm not sure I find that sentence comforting 'at all'!

Justine- As unfair as I felt she was 'emotionally' loved by her mother- Meggie...she was my least favorite character in the book too. And... for no real reason - she didn't do anything wrong --( I did like her relationship with her brother) -- but I was too interested in other characters, more.

I could go on and on and on.....It's filled with drama, tabu themes, forbidden love, angst, secrets, love, family, marriage, illness, death, loyalty, money, religion, sex, - heartbreaking and affirmative... gorgeously written - master-storytelling!!

Thanks for all the - many friends here who encouraged me to read this!! I'm thrilled I did!!!
Profile Image for Crumb.
189 reviews526 followers
August 7, 2018

I would give this all the stars in the sky if I could. This was simply the best book I've ever read..

This might sound strange, but I crave a book that is going to ruin me for all other novels to come. And this was it! Something in my greedy little reader paws, wants a book that is going to destroy me. Wreak havoc upon me. Do you know what I am talking about? Well, maybe you don't. Hmph.

This story lifted my heart and made my soul come alive. I felt as if the characters ingratiated themselves to such an extent in my very being, that I had sensations of them dancing upon my soul. With that being said, there is something that you must know and accept before beginning this novel. These events would never, could never, happen in real life. Therefore, just go with it. Enjoy the story. Suspend belief. Do whatever you need to do.. because once you do, you will have a reading experience unlike any you've ever had before. This is a story you will never forget. It's memories will be permanently imprinted on my heart forever. So.. what are you waiting for? Why are you still reading this review? Um..?

**Important note**
I've recently been informed that this author has supported and condoned the rapes that have been occurring on Pitcairn Island located in the South Pacific. I cannot stand by and be silent, and I certainly cannot and will not endorse that point of view. In fact, I think it is horrific. If you are interested in finding out more information, you can view this article that a fellow GR friend shared with me.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
969 reviews17.6k followers
April 27, 2023
It’s a rough job reading a novel that tears your heart apart, but it’s rougher still to see it on GR forty years later... and then give it FIVE STARS!

WHY in the name of Sam Hill would I do that?

Books can drive you into irrational behaviour. But you know what’s WORSE?

This book turned me into a Catholic convert.

No joke.

I MUST be crazy, right?

Actually, no...

This book proved to me that Christianity is a religion, above all, of TRYING. Of ‘d*mning the torpedoes’ and sailing ‘full speed ahead.’ Of getting up off the dirty floor, dusting yourself off, and getting back into the fray.

For in 1980 I was in the very THICK of the Soup.

My meds were an obnoxious fallback for my stress and I HATED my job. At times that autumn - the only time it ever happened to me - I felt almost suicidal.

I was at the proverbial end of my rope...

Then I read this calamitous set of hopeless misadventures set in the Australian outback. It gripped me till the end.

You know, I had everything: a wonderful fiancé, good friends, and I had just secured a promotion. And this job was it.

So what was the problem?

Well, I worked in an Automated Supply Cell. This job necessitated following computer orders partly written in machine language (remember the pre-desktop-computer days? ) to fill orders.

That’s right - the Stone Age, I think we call it now.

Bill Gates, BTW a wonderful GR reviewer, was, way back then, a kid like me. But he woulda known better.

Help! I needed H-E-L-P!!!

So, there I was, up crap creek without a paddle, and on my coffee breaks I poured my soul into The Thorn Birds. I guess misery really DOES love company.

But The Thorn Birds, above all, is a Fantastically HUMAN book, though it can singe your soul. And that’s why it clicked for me.

It showed me REAL LIFE AS IT IS.

Straight - no chaser, as Thelonius Monk once said.

The Thorn Birds LIVES.


It’s FLESH & BLOOD writing.

The same as my newly-restored Faith - with all of its faults and blemishes and, yes! ALONG with all the Chorus of Loud Protests it elicits from this ugly but fading postmodern fracas we call the world...


Believe it, or NOT.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 5, 2021
‏‫‭The Thorn birds, Colleen McCullough

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 God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain.... Or so says the legend.

The Thorn Birds is a 1977 best-selling novel by the Australian author Colleen McCullough. Set primarily on Drogheda—a fictional sheep station in the Australian Outback named after Drogheda, Ireland—the story focuses on the Cleary family and spans the years 1915 to 1969. The novel is the best selling book in Australian history, and has sold over 33 million copies worldwide.

Meghann "Meggie" Cleary, a four-year-old girl living in New Zealand in the early twentieth century, is the only daughter of Paddy, an Irish farm labourer and Fee, his harassed but aristocratic wife. Meggie is a beautiful child with curly red-gold hair but receives little coddling and must struggle to hold her own.

Her favourite brother is the eldest, Frank, a rebellious young man who is unwillingly preparing himself for the blacksmith's trade. He is much shorter than his other brothers, but very strong. Unlike the other Clearys, he has black hair and eyes, believed to be inherited from his Maori great-great-grandmother. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «م‍رغ‍ان‌ ش‍اخ‍س‍ار طرب‌»؛ «آخ‍ری‍ن‌ پ‍رن‍ده‌ در ش‍اخ‍ه‌ ای‌ ت‍ن‍ه‍ا»؛ «آخ‍ری‍ن‌ پ‍رن‍ده‌»؛ «پرنده خارزار»؛ «مرغان خارزار»؛ و «م‍رغ‌ خ‍ار»؛ نویسنده: کالین مک کالو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه نوامبر سال 2006میلادی

عنوان: مرغان شاخسار طرب، نویسنده: کالین مک کالو؛ مترجم: فرشته طاهری؛ تهران، انتشارات ویس؛ 1367؛ در 791ص؛ چاپ دوم 1368؛ سوم سال 1369؛ بعدا نشر درسا)؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان استرالیا - سده 20م

عنوان: مرغ خار، نویسنده: کالین مک کالو؛ مترجم: طاهره صدیقیان-رویا صدوقی، نشر مروارید 1369؛ در 368ص؛

عنوان: پرنده خارزار، نویسنده: کالین مک کالو؛ مترجم: مهدی غبرایی، نشر نیلوفر 1371؛ در 764ص؛

عنوان: پرندگان خارزار، نویسنده: کالین مک کالو؛ مترجم: امیر راسترو، نشر قصه پرداز 1379؛ در 568ص؛

عنوان: مرغان شاخسار طرب، نویسنده: کالین مک کالو؛ مترجم: تیمور قادری- زهرا قادری، نشر ابرسفید 1391؛ در 736ص؛

در پهنه ی گیتی مرغکی است که تنها یکبار در زندگی خویش آواز میخواند؛ آوایی دلنشینتر از آواز هر مخلوق دیگری در گستره خاک؛ از آن دم که ترک آشیانه میگوید خاربنی را میجوید، و تا آن را نیابد، آرام نمیگیرد؛ چو آن را یافت، در میان شاخسار گزنده مینشیند و میخواند، و خود را بر فراز بلندترین و تیزترین شاخه ی خار مصلوب میکند، و در واپسین لحظه های زندگی در سوگ خویش بلند آوازتر از بلبل و چکاوک نغمه سرایی میکند

داستان دختری به نام «مگی» است که عاشق کشیشی به نام «رالف» می‌شود و در اثر یک رابطه جنسی از «رالف» پسری به دنیا می‌آورد؛ کتاب «پرنده خارزار»، داستان سه نسل از خانواده ی «کلیریس» را باز میگوید؛ گله دارانی که از سرزمینی زیبا و سرسخت، زندگی طلب میکنند و همزمان با دلخوریها، ضعفها و اسراری روبرو میگردند که به خانواده شان نیز راه مییابد

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 13/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Nettle.
180 reviews51 followers
February 13, 2014
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 a blue teaset.
4.5 Family gets themselves into debt buying it, she no longer wants it and it brings her no joy.
5. I'm allowed to go to Church with the others!
5.5 Fuck Church is boring I will never achieve spiritual fulfillment.
6. My parents don't love me but my brother does. :3
6.5 My brother has tried to run off to War and is now irreparably broken.

That was basically the whole book, over and over again. There was some shit about how priests should be allowed to marry because what is God if not Love and some other stuff about being married to the land and where babies come from. but it was mainly a series of setting up good things and then knocking them over again like a game of tragic-bowling.

At one point they meet the priest, he is like "fuck your hair is sexy darlin'" ignoring the fact she is Nine. He lusts after her for the rest of the book but he is Married to God and the author takes pains to mention how he can never get it up, several times. Apart from about 4 days in a honeymoon hotel bareback where he never again considers he could have made her pregnant, even when being faced with his own son for several hours a day for 10 years. Nobody ever says "fuck man he looks just like you," and never once does he think "You know she left her husband right close to when this kid was conceived right about the time of those 4 days in a honeymoon hotel"

Oh man I'm not going to go into it. Don't read it. Please.
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,561 followers
February 11, 2020
This beaut of a soap opera has been around for decades & for excellent reason. Epics have been forgotten & currently authors satisfy their readers (or not, as the case may be) with smaller stories & smaller lives.

McCullough has the tenacity to include three generations in this sprawling saga, and as family portraits usually tell of differences between the generations PLUS the ties that bind them together & to a home, this one exactly does that in an extremely entertaining fashion.

Fee marries her second choice, not the man of her dreams, and becomes pregnant with more or less the number of digits one has in both hands; she lives a quiet & ironically isolationist existence. Her daughter Meggie, the protagonist until her daughter takes the helm, also suffers her mother's character flaws... fate plus genes a maudling story make. Her priest Ralph, in what is the central love story, chooses God over his heart. The same is not repeated but is indeed echoed in the last generation as Justine, who finally breaks the curse, leaves the warmth and monotony of her family in Drogheda to actually take flight & follow her instincts which had failed the Cleary women in the past.

There are only 19 chapters in this massive chronology and many events occur, mostly random and sometimes poetic, but they never fail to surprise. There are so many characters, & all of them, you feel, actually employ humanity, act like actual persons that may have lived. There are acts of stupidity and compassion. People repress many feelings, more for personal convictions than for social or familial obligations we seldom don't visit in books such as these!

Ralph is an idiot for causing so much pain to both he and his love. What does that say about organized religion and the crimson-clothed of the almighty Vatican? The Clearys, though not intelligent mainly because of the collective "Irish pauper" mentality the patriarchal figure bestows upon his offspring (Papa Cleary and Ralph's proxy, Luke pretty much F*** things up for the rest). They are, however, extremely hard workers and this pays off well. There are many morals, many moments of euphoria, and even slight (by today's standards) snippets of hot erotica! You pretty much stand witness to one of the most complex yet endearing pieces of literature.

Highlights: 1) the death of one of the Cleary boy's via warthog asphyxiation immediately following the death of his father via fiery "holocaust." 2) Ralph meeting his love at her retreat where she is in isolation is definately one of the most romantic notions I have ever read... it is written with the finest sense of what love really is. 3) learning what "French Letters" mean. 4) transition from New Zealand to Australia to Rome, Greece, London. Such sprawls indicate that life can expand from its moldy origins to experience infinite possiblities, arrive at distal ends.

I recommend this book for someone not afraid to having a two-three week relationship with a soap opera that, unlike those on t.v., does not insult the audience with romantic cliches or expected "disasters." The novel is organic: a testament of lives that experience pain and pleasure. The reader only experiences the latter.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,379 reviews7,089 followers
July 15, 2020
This was a reread for me and just as enjoyable the second time around!
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,159 followers
October 5, 2009
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 epic book. It spans three generations of the Cleary family, focusing mostly on Meggie. Starting in New Zealand on the day of her fourth birthday, The Thorn Birds follows the large family of Paddy and Fee and their children Frank, Bob, Jack, Hughie, Stuart, Meggie and baby Hal as they sail to Australia at the invitation of Paddy's wealthy land-owning sister Mary, who intends him to inherit the vast estate of Drogheda in northwest NSW. Even by Australian standards, it's a big farm: 250,000 acres, 80 miles across at its widest point, home to over 100,000 merino sheep.

The Clearys, who had been poor farmhands in NZ, fall in love with Drogheda and learn the ways of the land, the climate, the weather, the animals, pretty quickly. The book is divided up into 7 sections titled Meggie 1915-1917; Ralph 1921-1928; Paddy 1929-1932; Luke 1933-1938; Fee 1938-1953; Dane 1954-1965; and Justine 1965-1969. These provide a slight focus, but the only characters who really dominate the story are Meggie, Ralph - the Catholic priest who falls in love with her - and Justine, Meggie's daughter by Luke.

There is definitely tragedy in this book, but I never once found it depressing. It is similar in its structure to Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, but completely different, and successful in a way the latter book was not (for me): The Thorn Birds made me care. Each character is so beautifully rendered, as if they were indeed living people whose memories were captured by a light, non-judgemental hand. Every character evoked strong feelings in me, which changed as the characters changed. Luke, for instance, I wanted to throttle and ended up pitying. Meggie, in her naivete, was at times exasperating, yet she learned and I was proud of her for that - then angry, for the way she set Dane above Justine. Sometimes I absolutely hated Ralph and wanted to smack him; at other times I felt so deeply for him and his emotional turmoil.

I can't get over how well written this book is. It is simply told, in an omniscient third-person voice, only sometimes, when needed, delving in deeper into the hearts and minds of the main characters to reveal their thoughts and feelings. The clashing perceptions people have are accurately portrayed, the poor judgements, bad decisions, mistakes - all so life-like, so real. Inferences, connections and insights can be deduced from hints in the story, but McCullough leaves a lot for the reader to realise on their own. And behind it all, like a glorious backdrop, the gorgeous landscape, so vivid and true. History and politics are there also: two world wars, the Depression, the Great Drought that ended when WWII ended, everything from clothing to attitudes to cars, as well as changing Australian slang, attitudes, the quirks - most of it slipping in unobtrusively, at other times pivotal to the plot.

That there is a plot is undeniable: that it is noticeable, I doubt very much. I don't like to predict stories anyway - the only ones I do that to are unavoidable, like Steven Seagal movies - but there was very little in this book that I could have predicted had I tried. Maybe I'm just out of practice, but there was no sense of an author dictating or pushing the characters towards certain goals. A few things I could see coming, like Dane turning out just like his father, but even then it felt completely natural, not as though McCullough was manipulating the story.

It seems funny, reading a book of extreme heat, drought, flies, fire, endless silvery grass while outside it's freezing, snowing, bleak. But I was utterly transported, and the only thing that jarred my pleasure was the strangeness of seeing American spelling and a couple of changed words amidst the Australian slang. Why, for instance, change "nappy" to "diaper" while leaving "mum" for "mom"? (As an aside, in general I really hate it when books from the UK and Australia, for instance, must undergo an Americanisation before being published in North America, whereas when books by US authors are published in Australia it's with the American spelling and all. That just doesn't seem fair! It seems pretty insulting to the Americans I've talked to, actually, but also patronising to us.) I think, though, regardless of whose decision that was, McCullough was writing to an international audience. She never intended this book to stagnate in Australia, as many works do which are "too difficult to understand" in other countries. She doesn't talk about crutching the dags on the sheep without explaining what crutching means and what dags are, or that the big lizards are called goannas and rabbits were introduced to Australia so that it would look a little more like England for the homesick settler - I know all this, but it was still interesting to read about it.

If you're interested in reading about Australia (or just epic stories in general), this is a great book to start with. It's not even out-of-date, things change so slowly! Just picture stockmen flying helicopters around herds of cattle instead of riding, their properties are so humungous. The droughts are still there, the floods, the flies, the fires, the vernacular - though the Catholics have almost disappeared. The religion aspect of the novel is equally fascinating, and handled diplomatically as well. It is a book about ordinary people living ordinary lives, and sometimes deliberately causing themselves pain: hence the reference to the thorn bird, which pierces its breast on a rose thorn as it sings, and dies.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
486 reviews1,356 followers
May 7, 2020
I have been consumed by this: heart and soul. The thorn bird sings only once in its life before impaling itself. But the song is so sweet that even God smiles for its song comes at a great sacrifice: life.
I’m in utter awe.
The Australian outback is a harsh land. Built for the strongest of humans to survive. The Clearys are a large family who’ve migrated from NZ to Australia to manage Paddy’s sister’s sheep station.
In the isolation of the outback, there are few relationships that develop but a young priest takes them under his wing and favours young Meggie as she is but the only daughter of a family of boys.

This is a love story. One in which a man struggles with his identity as a priest vs his weakness as a man; and the blossoming love for a girl who becomes a woman. The realization and the strength Meggie had, to know the one true love she has, belongs to the church.
The sacrifices that are made; the trade offs never equal.
A holy saga of life.
A favourite of my mom’s which is now a favourite of mine.

Profile Image for Brina.
898 reviews4 followers
July 10, 2018
In a down reading year, an epic family saga was just what I needed to push away the reading doldrums. Normally, a five star read would merit a long review depicting characters, place, time, and the author's luscious prose. The Thorn Birds had all of this and was hauntingly beautiful. Yet, despite the story of the Cleary family and their parish priest being a much needed tonic for me, I am omitting my long review for now. That is because The Thorn Birds is our quarterly long read in the group Retro Chapter Chicks here on goodreads. My fellow chicks are reading this book over the course of three months and I do not want to inadvertently give anything away here. The story of Meggie and Ralph was so captivating; however, that I read their saga in three days rather than months. It was that good, and the bonus is that I have still have three months of group discussions to immerse myself in their story. The Thorn Birds has catapulted itself to my all time favorite shelf and will be a saga that I sense myself revisiting more than once.

*5 star read*
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books709 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 11, 2023
It took 200 pages of this book for me to confirm that the novel's 'hero' is a pedophile, and that his love interest is the young child that he meets as a girl and spends years grooming in the presence of her family. A horrible book.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,074 reviews491 followers
May 1, 2021
I read this after I watched the excellent TV series starring Richard Chamberlain. Both the series and the book were utterly amazing. The following epigraph at the beginning of the novel gives you a hint of what is to come.

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 God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain.... Or so says the legend.

Read the book AND watch the first series, adapted from the book. (The second season of the series was a bust, unfortunately. All the characters were terribly miscast in the second season and it was just dreadful, sadly.)
Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
384 reviews325 followers
January 16, 2023
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is a classic story about family and love. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I picked up this chunky book – but yes, the importance of family and the vagaries of love predominate.

This epic covers three generations of the Cleary family. We start around 1915 with Paddy and Fee Cleary scraping a living in rural New Zealand – they are poor but manage to make do. Their progeny mushrooms into a bunch of boys and a gorgeous girl called Meggie – a main character. Paddy receives a call from an auntie in Australia running a cattle and sheep farm in remote far Northwest New South Wales. This ‘interesting’ auntie invites the family to take over the farm called Drogheda when she passes – along with her vast inheritance.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? However, it all gets a bit complicated and messy. The most interesting character for me in this story is Father Ralph de Bricassart. This character was terrible conflicted – he loves Meggie with all his heart, but his love and devotion to God – as a Catholic priest – make this love story as memorable as it gets. Father Ralph is on a trajectory that will take him to the Vatican, he's very handsome, charming, intelligent (the bastard!!) and turns heads wherever he goes.

There’s one detestable guy in this, a bloke called Luke O’Neill. This man is a tosser of the highest order – I won’t give anything away for those who haven’t read this, but I felt like shaking him. He treated my favourite character in this story deploringly. In fact, his journey also took us to Far North Queensland (even Cairns where I live). McCullough describes the intolerable humidity of FNQ perfectly – everything from the sweet smell to the suffocating moisture.

Fun Fact: BTW I thought I saw Luke O’Neill down Cairns main street the other day, I was determined to confront him but, you see - I have this dodgy knee and I’m still a little particular about social distancing, so I vehemently muttered something rude under my breath as I walked past him. He got the message alright!!!!

In addition to love and family, a third major theme here is Christianity, particularly the Catholic version. The sacrifice mere men of the cloth need to commit to is no small thing, the torment must tear many priests to bits. Hey, listen, I have only mentioned a few of the great characters here – there are many, many more – such as the acerbic Justine, the beautiful boy Dane, fighting Frank, earnest Paddy, ever so patient Rein – and so, so many more. If you read this or have read this – no doubt one or more of these characters has or will wedge themselves in your mind or heart. I’ve stuffed a couple of them in my heart that’s for sure.

The bird with the thorn in its breast, it follows an immutable law; it is driven by it knows not what to impale itself and die singing. At the very instant the thorn enters there is no awareness of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life left to utter another note. But we, put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still, we do it. Still, we do it

Doesn’t that take your breath away? McCullough’s prose here is a bit special. There were many ‘oh gosh’ instances in this epic, a few moments causing me to stop and ponder, and a couple where my heart fell through the floor. Oh man.

Stories like this aren’t just intergenerational tales about people and families. More importantly, they are stories that make us reflect on our own life, our own relationships and that is what this reading game is all about I suppose.

Just finished this book and review & it's 11pm here – I will sleep very, very well tonight indeed. Goodnight.

5 of the BIGGEST Stars
Profile Image for رغد فريحات.
116 reviews485 followers
March 27, 2021

تقول الأسطورة ان هناك طائر غناؤه أعذب من غناء كل المخلوقات
يغني مرة واحدة في حياته، أغنية جميلة لا يستطيع طير أن يغني مثلها.

يغادر هذا الطير عشه ويفتش عن شجرة شوك مميزة . يحلق ويطير ولا يستريح حتى يجدها

عندئذ يزقزق فرحاً ويتنقل راقصاً بين أشواكها، ثم يختار أطول وأدق شوكة ويرمي بصدره فوقها ويغرد تغريداً عذباً وشجياً أحلى من شدو السنونو والشحرورو وهو ينزف حتى الموت. يغرد أغنية ثمنها الحياة

فتصغي الأرض بسكون إلى تغريده وتبتسم السماء


يتلقى بادي كليري ، والد ميغي الفلاح في نيوزيلندا من اصل ايرلندي ، فجأة ، رسالة من أخته الكبرى الثرية ماري التي تدعوه هو و زوجته وأطفالهم للعيش في ممتلكاتها ومزارعها الأسترالية والعمل لها بصفتهم ورثتها الوحيدين , ولأنها فرصة العمر ليخرجوا من فقرهم وشقاهم , يقبل بادي على الفور العرض

بعد تحمل رحلة الإبحار الطويلة والمرهقة إلى استراليا ، يتم الترحيب بهم من قبل كاهن يُدعى الأب رالف دو بريكاسارت

الذي يشعر بإتصال خاص وغريب مع ميغي الصغيرة ذات ال4 سنوات فور مقابلتها بين حفنة الأولاد التي انجباها في و بادي



بعد سنين نمضيها مع العائلة وعند بلوغ ميغي ال16 من العمر , تنفذ ماري الشيطانة بلا رحمة خطتها الشريرة بتخيير الأب رالف بين جعل املاكها تصبح للكنيسة الكاثوليكية الرومانية بعد موتها مما يدعم مكانته ويرقيه في مرتبته الكهوتية لينتقل لروما ويصبح الأسقف رالف , وهو ماطمح له

مع حرمان عائلة بادي ماوعدتهم به بعد السنوات التي عملوها بها من اجلها في المزرعة الكبيرة وادارتها وبعد اقتلاعهم لجذورهم في نيوزيلاندا

ام بجعل ممتلكاتها كما وعدت تصبح لعائلة اخيها بادي بعد موتها وبذلك سيبقى على مرتبته ككاهن عادي في دروغيدا الاسترالية قرب ميغي



هذه الخطة الشيطانية اتت بدافع الغيرة التي شعرت بها ماري من علاقة ميغي ورالف العميقة والوثيقة، والرومانسية التي تراها تتطور بينهما على مر السنين وهي التي في سبعينياتها من العمر وجدت نفسها مفتونة بالأب رالف

أُجبر الأب رالف على الاختيار بين المرأة التي يحبها والكنيسة التي أقسم عليها

فمع أن رالف كاهن كاثوليكي عهد حياته للرب و أصبح من المحظور عليه عيش اية علاقة مع امرأة او الزواج منها , إلا انه هو الذي عجن ميغي بيديه , مذ لحظة وصولها لإستراليا واستقباله للعائلة لم يستطع ان يبتعد عنها ويشاهدها وهي تكبر وان يخلص نفسه من أسر العواطف التي لاتفارقه وهي تنمو وتزذهر امامه

وانتصرت طموحات الأب رالف ، وبقي مع الكنيسة ، وأصبح في النهاية كاردينالًا في روما

بعد موت ماري قال الأب رالف لميغي بحزن :” لقد بعتك ياميغي من اجل الملايين” .

. لم تفهم ميغي حينها قصده , فماذا كانت خياراته ؟ هو يعلم انه لن يستطيع ان يجتمع بميغي طوال حياته


يصارع رالف نفسه بين طموحاته للوصول للفاتيكان ومشاعره تجاهها.

قلب الرواية قصة حب ميغي التي لا يمكنها أبدًا ام��لاك الرجل الذي تعشقه بشدة ، ورالف دو بريكاسارت وصراعه مع رغبة المكانة والحب

ولكن شغفه بميجي سيتبعه طوال الأيام في حياته.

وحبه سيظل في قلبها , سيظل الى ان تحصل منه على مالايستطيع اخذه ونكرانه

وستستمر قصتهما وسنشاهد كيف الحياة تسخر منهما

على مدار أكثر من خمسة عقود ، توضح لنا الكاتبة الرائعة كولين كيف تغير قصة الحب المأساوية مسار حياة شخصياتها


كاهن يقوده الطموح وتعذبه الشهوة لا يعرف كيف يتوقف عن الرغبة
فتاة مهووسة برجل لا يمكنها الحصول عليه

هناك الكثير من الحب والخسارة والألم والأمل في هذه الرواية الملحمية.

رواية معقدة وجميلة و مختلفة , إنها كلاسيكية خالدة مليئة بالعاطفة والقوة

شعرت ان هذه الرواية تحفر نفسها بداخلي بكل حب وعاطفة

ملحمة و تحفة مؤثرة لا تُنسى

تغطي هذه الملحمة العائلية حوالي 60 عامًا من حياة عائلة كليري

منذ ان بدأت في القراءة وانا اتعمد ان لا انهيها بشكل سريع لإستمتع بها بأطول فترة ممكنة لما جعلتني اشعر به من مشاعر متخبطة

كان هناك الكثير من الشخصيات التي لا تنسى في هذا الكتاب

هناك الكثير من المشاهد في هذا الكتاب لن تُنسى أبدًا في ذاكرتي , مازلت استذكر العديد منها في مخيلتي واريد ان اظل اتذكرها وأنظر لهذه الرواية مستقبلًا على أنها صديق حميم جدًا واعود لها كل فترة

منذ مدة لم أشعر بكتاب يجعلني مدهوشة لهذه الدرجة وشغوفة بقرائته , حرفيًا هذا الكتاب ماكنت ابحث عنه منذ مدة

نعم من الجنون ان يبلغ حوالي ال1300 صفحة , ولكني ممتنة من قلبي على هذه الصفحات الثرية التي قرأتها واجد نفسي حزينة لإنتهائها , فأسلوب كولين الرشيق وطريقتها السردية الرائعة تأسر القارئ و تجعله غائب عن الزمان والمكان

إنه ليس كتابًا قصيرًا ، لكنه يستحق كل دقيقة تقضيها في قراءة هذه الملحمة



كل شخصية من شخصيات هذه الرواية تحمل قنديلاً مليئاً بالزيت وتسير في الدروب المظلمة تريد الحب، لكنها تتصرف كالعمياء لأن القنديل بلا فتيل، لأن الحب الذي تريده متعذر وممنوع ومستحيل

العمة ماري الثرية تتخلى عن المزرعة لأجل الحب من قس بعمر حفيدها

الأم فيونا غرقت في حب رجل متزوج حتى أنجبت فرانك ثم قبلت الزواج ببادي العامل الفقير

ابنتها ميغي ارتكبت خطأ والدتها نفسه، وأحبت من كرّس نفسه للكنيسة. ولم تتراجع حتى بعد زواجها.

القس رالف يريد أن يكون إنساناً خارقاً ورجلاً عادياً.

يريد الأب بادي الفقير أن تلد زوجته مثل الغنمة كل موسم!

لوك يريد أن تدر ميغي الحليب (المال) دون حمل

كل هذه الشخصيات أصناف من طيور الشوك، إنها تبحث عن أشواكها وتصنعها بأياديها، وهي تترنم دون وعي منها بأنشودة الحياة.


إن الطير الذي يغرز الشوكة في صدره , يتبع بعد ذلك قانونًا ثابتًا يفرض نفسه عليه , لا يعلم مالذي يدفعه الى غرز الشوكة في صدره , فيموت وهو يغني , وفي اللحظة التي تخترقه بها الشوكة لا يعلم ان الموت قادم , ولكنه يغرد ويغرد إلى ان لا تبقى فيها ذرة من الحياة لنغمة أخرى .

أما نحن , عندما نغرز الأشواك في صدورنا , فإننا نعلم ونفهم ومع ذلك نفعله

.... نحن نفعله مع ذلك


Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,533 followers
March 26, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

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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 like 8 years old and I sneaky-read this sumbitch like nobody’s business. Holy inappropriateness Batman! As a terrible good Catholic, I spent the remainder of my formative years reading and re-reading this book, attending mass, and fantasizing the entire time that I would end up as a “Meggie��� to our young priest, Father Ralph Rick.

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In all actuality, Father Rick was probably more interested in one of the altar boys being his Meggie. I keeeeeed, I keeeeeed!

Now that I’m a grown up, I think I would have ditched ol’ Father de Bricassart and made much sexytimes with Luke O’Neill instead : )

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This is a book I can NEVER re-read. Talk about unrealistic expectations of perfection.
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
993 reviews504 followers
June 7, 2018
Magnífico! Y me quedo corta; cortísima. Tanto que he estado a punto de otorgarle mis segundas 6 estrellas del año. Hace años vi por la tele la serie que se hizo de esta novela, pero no hay punto de comparación; es imposible. En la novela vemos y sentimos a todos sus personajes, sus miedos, sus inquietudes y deseos; todo lo que aman y aborrecen. Sus defectos y virtudes. Sencillamente muy muy fan de esta escritora.
Profile Image for Luvtoread.
496 reviews277 followers
November 15, 2020
Heartbreaking and Beautiful! The writing and storytelling are magical. I have never and will never forget this book and will always be one of my all-time favorites!!

I have given this fabulous novel 5 Outstanding 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Stars!! Really 10/10🌟🕊🌹
Profile Image for Sarah.
431 reviews107 followers
August 9, 2011
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 creeped out by his "love" for Meggie. Meggie herself I didn't like at all. She seemed so vapid, and most of her dreams consisted of marriage and babies, babies, babies. Urghhhhh.

The dialogue felt stilted and overly formal, even for the time period in which the book took place. The story didn't feel at all real to me. Despite the religious aspects of the book (Ralph is a freaking priest for God's sake) it didn't make me think about religion or spirituality or Catholicism in any meaningful way.

So yeah, I'm quite disappointed with this book. I think I'll stick to The Poisonwood Bible and Gone with the Wind and The Legend of the Fire Horse Woman for my family epics.
Profile Image for Mohadese.
368 reviews965 followers
November 16, 2020
فی بافتن را از سر گرفت و به نرمی گفت: "پس وقتی ما برویم، دیگر کسی نخواهد بود. دیگر درویدا نخواهد بود.آه، چرا، یک خط را در کتاب‌های تاریخ به آن اختصاص خواهند داد، و روزی مرد جوان و کوشایی به گیلی خواهد آمد تا هر کسی را که چیزی به یاد داشته باشد پیدا کند و با او گفت‌وگو بکند، برای کتابی که قرار است درباره درویدا این آخرین دامداری قدرتمند نیوساوث ولز، رج بزند. ولی هیچ‌یک از خوانندگانش هیچ‌گاه نخواهند فهمید که آنجا واقعا چگونه بوده است. چرا که نمی‌توانند بفهمند. باید پاره‌ای از آن می‌بودند تا به آن پی ببرند."

بعضی از کتابا هستن که خیلی نمیشه درموردشون صحبت کرد، چون از خودشون ردی روی قلبت میذارن که باید حس کنید و تو قالب کلمات نمی‌گنجه.

کتاب داستان پرفراز و نشیب سه نسل از خانواده پرجمعیت کلیری‌هاست، یا بهتر بگم هسته اصلی کتاب تنها دختر این خانواده "مگی"ست. ابتدای کتاب نامه‌ای از خواهر بزرگ پدی (پدر خانواده) به دست کلیری‌ها می‌رسه و در پی یک زندگی بهتر از نیوزلند به استرالیا مهاجرت می‌کنند.
با مهاجرت کلیری‌ها به استرالیا داستان کم‌کم از فضای نوستالژیک و خانوادگی خارج می‌شه و کلیسا و عشق و سیاست به ترتیب وارد کتاب می‌شه.

پرنده خارزار یک کتاب دوجلدی در یک جلده!
جلد اول ۴ بخش و ۱۳ فصل داره، هر بخش به یک شخصیت تعلق داره و محور اصلی داستان تقریبا همون شخصه. جلد دوم هم ۳ بخش داره و باز به همین‌صورته.

جلد اول با عشق تموم میشه و جلد دوم با جنگ جهانی دوم و قحطی شروع میشه و بی رحمانه یادآوری می‌کنه که زندگی قرار نیست همیشه آروم و قشنگ باشه و اتفاقا خیلی بی‌رحم‌تر از چیزیه که ما فکر می‌کنیم.

حدودا دو فصل ابتدای این بخش پر از اطلاعات تاریخی و سیاسیه، و به طور کلی از ابتدا تا انتهای کتاب در پس‌زمینه داستان می‌تونید یه اطلاعات کلی از تاریخ و تحولات استرالیا در قرن بیستم کسب کنید.
و خب حرف از تاریخ شد، و تاریخ دوباره تکرار میشه.
انگار اتفاقات زندگی مادر برای دختر به ارث می‌رسه و... (خودتون بخونید من که نباید همه‌شو بگم!)

حضور مگی در جلد دوم کم‌رنگ میشه و بیشتر درمورد فرزندانش می‌خونیم، هم‌چنین از استرالیا دور می‌شیم و به واتیکان، رم و لندن سفر می‌کنیم. بهتره بگم این بخش دختر جا پای مادرش میذاره و حضور جاستین دختر مگی پررنگ‌تره و در اغلب اتفاقات حضور داره.

نکته قابل توجه در جلد دوم کتاب، مقایسه زندگی مگی و جاستین بود.تحولاتی که برای جامعه زنان در این مدت رخ داده و طرز تفکرات و... به‌خوبی مشهود و قابل لمس بود.

در نهایت نمی‌تونم بگم این کتاب حکایت خیلی جدید و متفاوتی داره یا شما رو با هیجانش میخکوب می‌کنه اما این کتاب دقیقا همون کتابیه که بعد از یه روز پرمشغله، باید توی سکوت شب خوند، ذهن رو رها کرد و از طبیعت وحشی استرالیا لذت بُرد.
شما بزرگ‌شدن و قد‌کشیدن شخصیت‌ها رو می‌بینید، از تصمیم‌هاشون باخبرید و منتظر عواقبش هستید. با این کتاب خواهید خندید و خواهید گریست و احتمالا از دست رالف و لوک انقدر حرص بخورید.
و فضاسازی و جزئیات کتاب اونقدر قشنگ و کامل و به‌جاست که حس می‌کردم همین الان با کلیری‌ها در درویدا هستم.

من آدمی نیستم که به ادبیات کلاسیک علاقه‌مند باشه و احتمالا بدونید چقدر سخته واسم خوندن کتابای کلاسیک اما پرنده خارزار کتابی بود که من رو تا صبح بیدار نگه داشت.
پس اگه مثل من کلاسیک‌خون نیستید، احتمالا این کتاب رو بپسندید و اگه طرفدار این سبک هستید لذت خوندنش رو از خودتون دریغ نکنید.

پ.ن۱: گویا کتاب یک مینی سریال داره، اما بعید میدونم نگاه کنم چون دیدم رالف توی سریال به جذابیت رالف توی کتاب نیست و نمی‌خوام تصوراتم خراب شه.

پ.ن۲: می‌گن این کتاب و برباد رفته شباهت‌های زیادی دارند، ایشالله بعدش بریم سراغ اون. (البته الان نه، شاید سال دیگه)

پ.ن۳: فکر می‌کنم کتاب به یک ویرایش نیاز داره، ترجمه خوب و روانی داره اما یک دستی به سر و روش کشیده بشه شاید بد نباشه!
Profile Image for Xenia0201.
159 reviews8 followers
October 30, 2011
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 love with a local parish priest who has ambitions of Rome and is constantly tempted by her seductions. It's a tearjerker of a classic and I'm not ashamed to say I love it.
Profile Image for Sharon.
986 reviews193 followers
October 9, 2014
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. Ralph is very fond of, Meggie and the more he see her the stronger his feelings become. He can also see that Meggie is also starting to have feelings for him and knows he must put a stop to this before it goes any further.
As the story unfolds we see the Cleary family deal with love and loss and with loss comes heartache.

I absolutely LOVED this amazing story. This is the first book I've read by, Colleen McCullough and it definitely won't be my last. The descriptions of the places in this book are incredible and you can picture it all so clearly as you are reading. This was a compelling, enjoyable and emotional read. This book took me quite awhile to get through, but it's one of those books that should not be hurried. If you love reading Classic or Historical novels then make sure this one is at the top of your list. I read this book with, Kathy a friend of mine who also loves reading. Although, Kathy read this book quite a long time ago she enjoyed just as much if not more the second time round. A truly memorable book that will stay with me for a long time to come. So if you haven't read this book PLEASE do yourself a favour and read it as you won't be disappointed. HIGHLY recommended.
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,076 reviews632 followers
July 13, 2019

✨ Popsugar Reading Challenge 2019✨
✨✨A book about a family✨✨

Upon finishing this book I felt empty. I seriously could not formulate a single thought and just had to sit there for a while, staring into space. You know, you've just finished a great book, when that happens! ❤️

"There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone's heart."


Heartbreak: This was one serious heartbreaking book. It seemed nothing would go right for any of the characters. But you know, that's real life. Not everyone gets a happy ending. But somehow, for some reason, I enjoyed it all the same. The constant waiting for things to turn around.

Epic: There are so many reasons why this book should be classified as an 'epic' - the historical scope, the family dynasty, the geographical breadth and the tragedy.

"Perfection in anything is unbearably dull. Myself, I prefer a touch of imperfection."
- Mary Carson

Characters: There were so many memorable characters in this book! Some that I really loved, like Meggie, Paddy and Frank. Some I had a hard time liking, such as Fee, Ralph and Justine. But all the same, I was invested in every single one and rooted for them (perhaps with the exception of Luke, the bastard).

Themes: There were so many amazing and heartbreaking themes in this book; love, religion, ambition, sacrifice, weakness, humanity etc. They blended together to gracefully and enhanced the epicness of the story.

Profile Image for Shawn.
48 reviews24 followers
March 12, 2019
The book was a good love story, a young girl and an Irish priest romance together...I think I will read another of Colleen McCullough books...also I would like to see the old television series..
Profile Image for Tahani Shihab.
592 reviews827 followers
February 16, 2021
لم أشعر بالوقت وأنا أقرأ هذه الرواية العذبة التي تتكون من أكثر من 1300 صفحة، كنت التهم الصفحات والأحداث وأتابع الحوارات الجميلة والشيقة بلهفة وشوق.
مهارة السرد لدى الكاتبة جميل وبسيط ومتقن، يجد القارئ نفسه منسجمًا مع الأحداث وكأنه يعيش حقيقة مع شخوصها.

الرواية جميلة رقيقة وعنيفة. تحبس الأنفاس بل وتمزق نياط القلب. تجمع كل عناصر الجذب الروائي، الرومانسية والحب المحرم، الغنى والفقر، الغيرة والانتقام، الفضيلة والكبرياء، الحب والألم، الكراهية وجحيم الجفاف العاطفي. الزواج وتعارضه مع النذور الرهبانية الكاثوليكية، الإيمان والإلحاد. إضافة للوصف الساحر الذي أغدقته الكاتبة للورد والشجر والبحر والقرى والمدن والحرب والحرائق.

ملحمة إنسانية أبطالها حقيقيين كما تقول الكاتبة:
“إن الحوادث التي تتعرض لها طيور الشوك هي قصص حقيقية، سمعتها تروى في البيت منذ كنت صغيرة. وعشت أحداث بعضها بنفسي. وعندما كنت أجلس أمام الآلة الكاتبة، كنت أفكر دومًا بذكريات وأشخاص حقيقيين. فهذه الرواية هي ثمرة الأمانة التي أصف بها أشياء أعرفها تمامًا، بدءًا مني ومن عائلتي.
رالف حقيقي… وأمي هي التي أحبته.
كان أحد أخوالي يملك مزرعة أغنام في قلب أستراليا تشبه جدًا دروغيدا.
أبي كان قاطع قصب في كوينزلاند، مثل لوك، ومثله كان يجري دائمًا وراء النقود، ولا يريد أولادًا”.

ولأن الكاتبة كتبت عن شخصيات حقيقية سمعت عنها في طفولتها، والبعض الآخر عاصرتها فتكاد تكون أحد أبطالها، إلا أنها أخرجتها ككاتبة معتمدة على أحداث حقيقية في نسج روائي متكامل، أعاد إنتاج الواقع فمزجت بين الحقيقة والخيال بأسلوب أدبي جميل. رواية لا تنسى.


“عندما ترى يدي شخص مشققتين فاعلم أنه شريف”.

“عندما تصبح الأمنيات خيولًا يصبح المتسولون أغنياء”.

“لست أدري لماذا تستحوذين على قلبي الذي لا وجود له، بهذه الطريقة!”.

“يا إلهي، أريد أن أحيا، أن أحيا حقًا! وأعانق الليل والحياة، وأكون حرًا”.

“أن يكون الإنسان رجلاً فهذا يعني ألا يكون كاهنًا”.

“الجهل يولد الجهل. وحين يرقد الجسد والعقل فهما لا يستفيقان أمام أشياء تبدو واضحة جلية لشخص آخر أكثر تيقظًا ووعيًا”.

“ما لا تراه العين لا يأسى عليه الفؤاد”.

“كل إنسان يملك الحزن في داخله، وليس خطيئة أن يتذكر الإنسان أحزانه”.

“تستطيعين القول عن حق أنني قد عرفتُ ميغي عبر الفياضانات والحرائق والجوع العاطفي، وعبر الحياة والموت. وكل ما علينا أن نتحمل. ميغي هي المرآة التي أرى من خلالها فنائي”.

“هل الحب ليس إلا نسيج من صنع مخيلات النساء؟ أم أنه شيء لا يمس إلا النساء أو الرجال الذين يملكون شيئًا من المرأة في داخلهم؟

“الارتباط العاطفي يجعل من الانسان قاضيًا عقيمًا”.

“أولئك الذين ذهبوا إلى الحرب بفرح، متلهفين ضاحكين، عادوا إلى بيوتهم صامتين، يتكلمون القليل ويضحكون نادرًا. من كان يحلم فقط عند بدء الحرب أنها ستدوم هكذا أو ستكلف كل ذلك الثمن؟”.

“إن عالم الفاتيكان هو عالم عتيق، فاسد، متحجر”.

“كل منا يملك في داخله شيئًا لا يمكن انكاره، حتى لو دفعنا ذلك إلى الصراخ متمنين الموت. نحن ما نحن، هذا كل شيء. كما في تلك الأسطورة السلتية التي تحكي قصة الطائر الذي يغرز الشوكة في صدره وهو يغني قلبه حتى يموت. لأنه مجبر على ذلك. لأن ذلك قدره. إننا نستطيع أن نعلم بخطأ ما نفعل، حتى قبل أن نفعله، ولكن هذه المعرفة تعجز عن التأثير على النتيجة أو تغييرها، أليس كذلك؟ وكل منا يغني أغنيته الصغيرة وهو متأكد أنها أروع أغنية يسمعها العالم. ألا تفهم؟ لقد خلقنا أشواكنا بأنفسنا دون أن نتوقف لنقدر الثمن. وكل ما نستطيع القيام به هو أن نتألم، وأن نقول لأنفسنا أن ما فعلناه كان يستحق الألم”.

“إن حب الله سرّ عظيم”.

“هذه هي نتيجة الشيخوخة، إنها تعطينا الوقت الكافي لكي نفهم لماذا فعلنا ما فعلناه، والخرف رحمة لمن لا يستطيعون أن يواجهوا أنفسهم”.

“إن الطير الذي يغرز الشوكة في صدره يتبع بذلك قانونًا ثابتًا، وهذا القانون يفرض نفسه عليه. إنه لا يعلم ما الذي يدفعه إلى غرز الشوكة في صدره، فيموت وهو يغني. وفي اللحظة التي تخترقه بها الشوكة، لا يعلم بأن الموت قادم، ولكنه يغرد، ويغرد، ويغرد إلى أن لا تبقى فيه ذرة من الحياة لنغمة أخرى. أما نحن، فعندما نغرز الأشواك في صدورنا، فإننا نعلم، ونفهم. ومع ذلك فنحن نفعله، نحن نفعله مع ذلك ."

كولين ميلو.
Profile Image for Constantine.
832 reviews134 followers
August 30, 2017
Rating: 5.0/5.0

A Masterpiece in short.
I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. It is my favorite book of August 2017 reading list and indeed became one of my all time favorites as well. I have no idea why it took me so many years to pick it up and read it!. This is a family saga. The story follows three generations of Cleary's family. We see characters go and new characters come. There are so many things in this book. Although the synopsis mainly mentions about the romance but it is much much more than this. It has lots of happiness, sadness, love story, struggle, faith, spirituality, sacrifice and passion.

The writing is so good and enjoyable. The characters are so well defined, every one of them. The author was successfully able to make all the main characters be easily imagined by the reader in a clear vivid way. There are so many scenes in this book that will never be forgotten. Every character has its own misery and vulnerabilities. Fee Cleary stuck in her own sadness, Meggie's love to a priest Ralph that can never be fulfilled, Paddy's troublesome relationship with Frank. The fate of Dane's life and Justine's constant irritation of Drogheda.
It is difficult to say more without spoiling the story. Yes it is not a short book but I would say worth every minute spent reading it.

If you love family sagas you should read it for sure. It is one of the best.
Profile Image for Karina.
819 reviews
March 7, 2021
This was the best buddy read with @Maegan. We both happened to have this same book and had no interest in reading it, probably because of it's thickness, other books needed reading etc. So we decided to give it a go, finally, and thank GOD we did. We were both mesmerized from page 1 to 637.

I loved how it started out in New Zealand with an Irish immigrant family as the main characters. Then from New Zealand we move to Australia with the grumpy rich aunt and the greedy power hungry priest. McCullough covers three generations of Clearys from 1915-1969. If I knew these people in person I'd say they were ordinary and almost boring but the author does a great job of giving them such life and dignity and secrets that could tear them apart but actually bring them closer to one another.

The outback is described fantastically with the weather and the animals in their surroundings.
I cannot do this book any justice without getting into detail or botching my words. There is always the synopsis but that too cannot make you feel the story as deep as when you are in it.

I highly recommend and would not give this away to Goodwill. It is definitely a keeper for life.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,872 reviews31.2k followers
May 26, 2021
Wow, I'm not sure how to rate this book really. I'm waffling between 3 and 4 stars. There is so much I loved about this book and then so much I didn't.

I remember when the mini-series was re-aired in the 80s and I was at a family reunion and the adults how this running during the summer and I saw bits and pieces of it. I never read the book and in the last few years the book has crept into my consciousness and I found myself yearning to read this story. I'm very glad that I did and got a piece of life so different from mine.

This book was set in Australia and a little bit at the start in New Zealand. I haven't read a story set in that part of the world yet and his book made that life in that country come to life back in that time period. We don't see much of New Zealand and they were only very poor people there, but we see what life is like on a ranch in Australia in all the daily details of what life is like. I'm adverse to the desert and the heat, so I don't want to set foot in such a place, but I love that I can learn about it through reading in my coolish apartment. I honestly don't get how people can stand to live in that kind of heat.

There is lots of slang in this book and names of things I never knew existed. Some of the slang is explained and some is not. There is a 10 year drought in this story, 10 years. I can't imagine not having rain for that long. I would go mad in those conditions. I could stand the constant rain to drought.

How to describ Colleen's writing. I love her characters, fully realized. Her tone is about as harsh as the setting in some ways and yet there is a smattering of softness here and there. Life is hard in this story and Colleen never lets us forget it. Everything is bright and so well told. Lines leap off the page and stick in your head. She is gifted, but I can't say it feels to me like she writes with my heart. Maybe the heart in her writing is all for the characters and how she loves them, even as she bashed the shit out of all of them, over and over.

Meggie is the central character in this story and her family around her. We start off the story when she is a girl and we finish while she is heading into old age. We see 3 generations of Cleary women love and how they deal with it. The Cleary's are a strange lot. For some reason, the boys don't marry. Meggie has like 6 or 7 brothers and none of them want a wife. For some reason they are all to shy to meet girls. That feels alien to me. I don't get it. It adds to the sadness of the story. The other main character is Ralph de Bricassart, a priest that minister to the ranch.

We see them go from the 1920s to the 1960s, so it's a sprawling story. WWII is really the only major world event that has a real impact on the story, but it takes place all over Europe. The heart of the story beats in Australia. Colleen must love that part of the world dearly for it shows in her descriptions.

What I'm learning is I'm not much of a fan of a story about lovers who never really let themselves be together. There is always something keeping them apart for most of their lives, but they can only love that one person. It's only pain and more pain. I love this sort of thing as a teen, but after going through love and seeing it differently, I feel this whole thing is silly and it's not a trope that interests me anymore. While I'm not a fan of this troupe, I still enjoyed reading about this life and what went on. I'm just not a fan of characters inflicting such wounds on themselves. I'm sure many people back then, especially not having as much choice as we do, went through this in some way in their life, but I still don't appreciate it. Somehow, authors don't enjoy writing about couples who are healthy and happy and still have tough times to get through. I guess I'm simply weird.

Also, I know there are amazing people in church, as I have had several family members who were in it, but we also now know all the problems the Catholic church hide and kept behind closed doors until it exploded out recently. There is a lot of politics at the higher lever. I feel like Ralph could have exposed a little of that, maybe not the focus, but he could have been in contrast to things going on. As brutal as the book was, Colleen's picture of the church simply seemed to rosy to me.

Spoilery - possibly!

I do like the story arc of the women in this book. We meet Fee, a woman who loved a man and couldn't be with him and then took a husband to have kids with and only after he died realized how much she grew to love him. Then there is Meggie, who has only loved Ralph her whole life, but she tries marriage with Luke, that detestable lug who wants no part of marriage. Meggie ends up single with 2 kids. Meggie has Dane and Justine. Justine is the combination of Fee and Meggie. She never want to marry and content to be alone, or so she convinces herself. But finally, after 3 generations, it looks as though Justine is the one who has finally been lucky enough to find love and he seems like an amazing man. Justine is the one that seems to heal the family 'curse' or finding a way to love a man who can love her back.

I thought the whole death with Dane was overwrought and put there simply to tug on our heartstrings and make her characters suffer more. It felt a little cheap to me. He was healthy and had a heart attack in his 20s, really???

We see Meggie's first year in school and what a horror show it was to see nun's teaching school. Man, no wonder I have friends who can't stand the church after they had similar things in their school. It was brutal and it broke my heart. Fee neglected Meggie emotionally in many ways. Meggie having to go through her period on her own, knowing nothing and having no one to talk to was a sad thing. Meggie is a wonder, truly.

Ralph, I can't say I understand the appeal of Ralph. colleen works hard to make the reader fall in love with Ralph and even one of the blurbs on the book compared him to Rhett Butler. He is a beautiful man, I can see that, but I can't understand why he has such a pull on people. I liked him, but I didn't think he was the bees knees either. He sounded beautiful, but if he's not available, move on. But, people in the service of a higher purpose do have an appeal and so I can see it from that angle, but not to the point of breaking myself over. I guess un-requited love can be harmful if you never experience the real deal. Anyway.

I did enjoy the book. It was an amazing read, so I will be generous and give it 4 stars. I did enjoy my time reading it and I'm so glad I gave it a chance. Colleen has a series with Ceaser and I want to read that some day. I hope it doesnt take another 40 years to do so.
Profile Image for Maria Yankulova.
691 reviews253 followers
February 28, 2023
Препрочитам романа, който съм чела на крехките 17г. Няма идея как и колко съм го осмислила по онова време, но имам изключително жив спомен колко силно ми въздейства, колко плаках и колко ясно виждам сцената, в която Меги тича по плажа към Ралф Де Брикасар ❤️❤️❤️

Нямам навика да препрочитам книги, все съм устремена към новите заглавия, с които ме очаква среща, а има и още нещо - страхувам се дали към днешна дата бих оценила подобаващо всички онези класики, които толкова ме впечатляваха и ми въздействаха в гимназията.

Затова пристъпих много плахо към препрочита на “Птиците умират сами”. Няма да ви занимавам с анализ на прочетеното. Ясно е - книгата е ВЕЛИКОЛЕПНА! Абсолютно уникална семейна сага за рода Клиъри и живота им в имението Дройда.
Толкова много теми има, че за книгата може да се дискутира с часове. Това, което ме изненада (освен как на практика нищо не помня от историята, освен разбира се романтичната нишка) е, че именно точно любовта между Меги и Ралф Де Брикасар не ме впечатли, не ме натъжи и не ме трогна, както преди години. Дали е опит, много прочетени книги и десетки други любовни истории или просто с годините ставам цинична, но тази нишка в книгата не беше водеща за мен този път. Да развълнувах се, ядосах се и намразих Отец де Брикасар, но други неща привлякоха вниманието ми - отношенията между Фий и Пад, деца-родители, братя-сестри.

Не съжалявам, че отделих време за този препрочит и само мога да препоръчам на всички, които още не са чели романа.
Profile Image for Shahram.
91 reviews7 followers
June 18, 2019
نظرات در باره این کتاب بسیار متفاوته ، از [حیف وقت که برای خوندن این کتاب گذاشتم] تا [من لحظه لحظه داستان رو زندگی کردم] شاید این تفاوت بیشتر ناشی از سن خوانندگان باشه ،خودم که سالها پیش خوندم فکر میکنم اگر کسی پنجاه صفحه ابتدا رو تاب بیاره دیگر توان برزمین گذاشتنش رو نداره
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