When famous Australian author Colleen McCullough died this year, I was saddened on behalf of her fans. It’s always a grief to lose an author you are fond of. And her obituary was cruel and mean, focusing on appearance instead of accomplishment. So I decided to read The Thorn Birds out of solidarity–for feminism.
So it pains me to say that for me, the novel was very much a mixed bag. There are definitely aspects I liked and aspects I did.not.like.at.all. The aspects I did not care for comprised such a huge chunk of the novel, that I was left feeling regretful and disappointed.
First, a summary. The Thorn Birds is a family saga taking place in desert Australia and Europe. When Paddy and Fiona Cleary move their family to Paddy’s sister’s ranch in Drogheda, their lives seismically shift without knowing it. The only daughter, Meggie, becomes the novel’s protagonist, and her coming-of-age and hopeless love story with a priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart, forms the conflict and main plot. The novel spans three generations and illustrates the ravages of time and pride in a family.
I liked the setting. I haven’t read a lot of Australian literature, and this novel takes us to places I have never been, either in real life or my mind, so that was very interesting.
I did not like the romance. When a 28-year-old priest is in love with a nine-year-old girl, I can only think of the creepy priest scandals we’ve been seeing in the last ten years. Or Mary Kay LeTourneau. Ergh. I felt bad that Meggie had such a poor sexual exucation that led to the choices made and some of the drama surrounding her relationships, but I felt no sympathy for her and Ralph as a whole. Which meant there was A LOT OF EYEROLLING throughout two-thirds of the novel.
I will not be watching the mini-series.