Rating: 4.5 / 5
THE THORN BIRDS by Colleen McCullough was the #ClassicsBuddyRead pick for April and May. This isn’t one that I was at all familiar with when we added it to the list, so I went in only knowing that it was set in Australia.
THE THORN BIRDS is a family saga about the Clearey family. Paddy Clearey, his wife Fiona and their seven children move to a sheep station in remote Australia owned by his sister. The work is tough and at times dangerous and the family faces a lot of hurdles in their life.
Much of the story focuses on Meggy, starting as a young girl in the initial portion of the book on through the years until her own children are grown. From a young age, Meggy falls for the one man she really can’t have, a priest. Lacking in true affection at home, Meggy finds it in Ralph, though his heart primarily belongs to the church.
From the synopsis it is easy to see why the church might have objected to this particular novel and the miniseries that spawned from it. Knowing that Ralph knew Meggy as a child did throw a wrench in the romance a bit for me with this one (though Meggy was an adult before anything really happened).
We made this a two month read just based on the page count (coming in at almost 700 pages), but it really was a quick and gripping read. The author did a fantastic job fleshing out the characters and the nature of life for the Cleareys. Following three generations of the family, it is interesting to see the way events and behaviors echo and impact each along the way.
This is a book that I likely never would have picked up had we not been buddy reading it, so I am very glad that we had this slightly more modern classic on our list of classics for 2021!