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The Thorn Birds

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  314,570 ratings  ·  6,006 reviews
“Beautiful….Compelling entertainment.”
New York Times

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


One of the most beloved novels of all time, The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough’s sweeping family saga of dreams, titanic struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian Outback, returns to enthrall a new generation.
Paperback, 673 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published April 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 t…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.

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

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Elyse  Walters
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.

Tidbits....
.....The rel
...more
Crumb
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 the
...more
Fabian
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
‏‫‭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
...more
Nettle
Feb 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my fucking God. This book. I was standing in the kitchen this morning angrily chopping veg and I couldn't work out why, then I realised, it was this book just making me irrationally angry, when I wasn't even reading it!

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

1. She gets a lovely doll!
1.5 Doll is trashed.
2. She gets sent to school at last!
2.5 School is terrible she's beaten every day.
3. It's ok she makes an awesome friend!
3.5 Friend hates her, fuck you, nits.
4. She realllly wants
...more
Maureen
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a reread for me and just as enjoyable the second time around!
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
Brina
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 Ret ...more
Jen
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 y
...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
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
...more
Xenia0201
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I read this for the first time in 4th grade. (I hid it in my room for a month b/c this is sooo not a book for a 10 year old!!) My father is an ex-Catholic priest who left the church for my mother so when the mini series came out, the world stopped in my house for an entire week. It's an epic saga about an Irish farming family who relocated to Australia to help work at an ailing aunt's ranch. The book spans some 40+ years of hardships they encounter. The only daughter, Meggie, falls in lo ...more
Sharon
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Thorn Birds is a beautifully written Australian novel. This story spans over three generations of the Cleary family. It mainly centres around young, Meggie who is the only girl in the family. Meggie's mother only has eyes for her sons which leaves. Meggie feeling very unloved by her mother. Growing up there are many things, Meggie needs to know about life in general, but Meggie knows she can't ask her mother. So Meggie turns to the the local priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart for answers. Ra ...more
Shawn the big poppa pump
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..
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
ONE OF THOSE BOOKS THAT IS GUARANTEED TO STAY WITH YOU💕💕

✨ 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."


THE THINGS I LOVED ❤️

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

I hated Ralph. He seemed manipulative and sketchy and at the same time didn't really feel like a real human being. I was super cre
...more
Constantine
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x-5-star, z2017-08
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 mor
...more
Fergus
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 g
...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
Veronique
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care”
Emily Dickinson (letter)

Why has it taken me so long to finally try this novel? I’ve been enthralled these last fours days, putting aside all other books in favour of this one, snatching any moment to get back to the Clearys and Drogheda.

I don’t often read epic sagas but McCullough gives us such beautiful and flawed characters, so well portrayed, that you cannot but believe in them, in the reality of them, feeling all their experiences, dr
...more
Heather
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: top-100-list
I LOVED this book, and until I read the last paragraph I couldn't figure out WHY! What was so utterly unexpected for me is that the reason I love this book is precisely the exact reason I would have hated just yesterday it seems?!!? If that makes ANY sense. I almost feel like I have a different outlook on life than I did one day ago...much less one year ago...but I didn't realize it until THIS book.
This book is an impressive tale with all of life's elements present...in fact, it is a tale ABOUT
...more
Shobhit Sharad
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shobhit by: Yoana
I wanted to be impressed by this book, after reading so many positive reviews, and I am impressed, but not to the extent that would justify to me its heaps of praises.

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

Except for the protago
...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
Sarah
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a reread for me. When I read it some 30 years ago I didn't get to finish it because someone stole it off of my work desk. I had to know the ending. It is just so epic. If you love a big sweeping saga, this is a must.
Dustin
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone should read it, if only for the historical aspects
Recommended to Dustin by: Shell
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
...more
Fiona Brichaut
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for an engrossing holiday book
Shelves: a-good-read
This is one of the books I scorned for years. Romantic fiction - I used to think - is fluff for bimbos. Since I consider myself literate and intelligent (yeah, really!) I wouldn't touch this sort of book. Bizarrely, I was not ashamed to read even the most extreme - and extremely inane - crime fiction. ("After all, we all need to relax now and then." Hmmmph!)

Well, now I'm older and wiser and more inclined to read books for enjoyment than for the pleasure of imagining how people will be impressed
...more
Jeannie
I am only giving this book 5 stars because I can't give it 10. This is one of the best books I have ever read!

Highly recommend!
Laura
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group-reads
692 pages of a wonderful family saga. I loved it all.....the secrets, the family, the bonds, the deceit, the stubbornness, the pride and the love!!!! Sooooo goooood!
Kathi
Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read this book when it was popular (when I was in high school) because my mother wouldn't let me - because of the affair the Priest has. I was also banned from watching the made-for-t.v.-movie. Well, a few months ago she was getting rid of a bunch of books & asked me if I wanted any of them & The Thorn Birds was in there. I asked if I was allowed to read it now that I was 46 yrs. old????
I gave this book 5 stars because it immediately pulled me in & the characters were so real. I didn't
...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
Chantal
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook-en, ebook-nl
Finally, I have read the book that everybody is always talking about. I loved this epic family saga, following Maggie throughout her life. This book is very descriptive, it also had lots of passion, but also lots of sadness because of the hardness they encounter. Overall, this was a good story and a book you need to read in life and I am glad I have read it. Romance is still alive in this world!

...more
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Which charactor do you like the most and dislike the most? 25 127 Oct 21, 2020 08:11AM  
Catching up on Cl...: Thorn Birds --Spoilers for Entire Book 15 59 Jun 29, 2020 06:56PM  
Catching up on Cl...: Thorn Birds -- Scheduled Spoilers 53 87 Jun 22, 2020 09:42AM  
Fancast for Thornbirds 1 11 Jun 18, 2020 03:40PM  
Catching up on Cl...: Thorn Birds: NO Spoilers 6 56 Apr 05, 2020 09:48AM  
Play Book Tag: The Thorn Birds / Colleen McCullough. 3 stars 1 17 Mar 10, 2020 07:43PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Correct cover art 2 17 Feb 19, 2020 09:57AM  

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2,028 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 aller
...more

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Get in the mood with our list of the top 100 romances of all time. We narrowed the field by limiting our results to books aimed at...
256 likes · 458 comments
“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.” 598 likes
“There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone's heart. ” 321 likes
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