Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (1977)

Sometimes The Thorn Birds reminded me of Gone with the Wind.  Maybe because of the Irish father.   It may have been the font though.
It also occasionally reminded me of Edna Ferber's Giant.  But it's not nearly as good.
I don't know if my family watched the miniseries or not. It was first aired in March 1983, which would make me 13 years old.  A hideous, awkward time.  I vaguely remember Barbara Stanwyck as Mary Carson coming on to Father Ralph, and him stripping off his clothes in the rain.  Perhaps after that we turned the channel.
I also know I read this at some point later.  I'm not sure when.  But I remember the father Paddy and the brother (I didn't remember which one) being burned in the awful fire (I didn't remember that the brother was killed by a wild boar; I thought he was burned too).
So up until that point, really up until Meggie gets married to Luke, I thought the book was ok.  Not great, but ok.  The whole thing between the priest and the little girl was weird.  Really weird.  But perhaps with the sexual scandals throughout the church over the last twenty years, apropos.
But after Meggie marries Luke, blah.  I was bored, bored, bored.  It's a ponderous book, and I'm not exactly sure what the appeal is.  Why is this book beloved?  I thought it was mostly dull

.The Thorn BirdsThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughMy rating: 2 of 5 starsThere is a legend of a bird who wrote a book about a priest with a crush on a little girl, and the back drop was Australia, complete with gum trees and kangaroos and emus, and Bonzer Blokes, and sheep shearing.  And Irish convicts.  No Aborigines though.  I guess they were not invited to this particular party.  No Crocodile Dundee or shrimps on the barbee either.  This book is beloved; it was made into a beloved miniseries in the 80s.  I remember Barbara Stanwyck making Father Richard Chamberlain strip in the rain and admiring his body, and I think then my mom made us turn the channel.  I know I've read this book at least one other time, because I remember some gruesome deaths that I won't spoil here.  But as a re-read, I came away bored and un-beloving.  It's not an awful book.  It's well written.  It even has a plot.  I just didn't find that plot very interesting.  I guess I've never lusted after or been in love with a priest.

View all my reviews

Then there is this Goodreads bitch.

4.5 -- What I consider to be a "trashy novel". The lack of morals and the betrayal of vows on both sides of the affair were sad to read about. Ralph would have been more attractive if he had overcome his desires instead of succumbing to them. And the character Ralph made constant comparisons between women and spiders spinning their webs...

Parts of the novel read like a fairy tale: a hard beginning, the saving grace of a "benevolent godmother" coming just in time. Yet this character is vindictive and malevolent and punishing and jealous.

Made me want to read the novel.  Joy, stick to Bethany House Publishers.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sad that you didn't enjoy this more. Maybe imagining Richard Chamberlain throughout is what gave it more appeal, for me... But in all was a real "page-turner" for me. Very sad in parts. And I definitely am not the romance book or film type, either. Ah well, hope the next one is better for you!


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