Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

November Books 2) The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough

Back in the mid-1980s, as a regular train passenger between Belfast and Dublin, I used to cringe at the sound of American tourists pronouncing "Drogheda". This was entirely the fault of the mini-series based on The Thorn Birds, starring Richard Chamberlain as the dashing Father Ralph, and set on an Australian sheep station named after (but pronounced differently from) the Irish town.

The book isn't really all that great. It is quite well written, but loses focus by letting characters drift in and out of view. The core narrative is the doomed love between Meggie and Ralph, but then there are an extra 200 pages tacked on of what happens to Meggie's children, not really resolving the fates of the characters from earlier in the book (apart from those who are killed off). The ending, where Meggie's daughter Justine dithers between several different destinies, felt rushed and disengaged. It's all epic human interest stuff but the first two thirds could have been trimmed down to make a better book, and the last third expanded slightly to make another. I know it sold like hot cakes back on the 1970s so it obviously scratched some collective itch among the bookbuying public.

Posted via LjBeetle
Tags: bookblog 2010

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