From the first page in the book...
Spanning three generations and an infinite range of human emotions, THE THORN BIRDS is the story of a singular family, the Clearys, who leave New Zealand to live on a vast Australian sheep station, where their triumphs and tragedies are interwoven with the wonder and terror of a land ravaged by cycles of drought, fire, and torrential flood. But most of all, it is the story of Meggie, who falls madly in love with a man she can never marry, and of Ralph, a truly beautiful man, whose ambition takes him from Outback parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican--but whose love for Meggie Cleary will lead to a passion he cannot control.
The novel begins in 1915 and ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, Justine, a brilliant London actress sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots.
Let me just start by saying that until I started reading the book, I always thought that The Thorn Birds was a book about a family called Thorn Bird...embarrassing but true.
This book was not a fast read for me. It took me a really long time. It wasn't always easy or pleasant, but it was well worth the effort. I absolutely loved The Thorn Birds...every page of it. It's one of those beautifully rare books that will stay with me forever. There are books that you read and like but slowly forget after some time goes by. I know that this will not be the case with The Thorn Birds. I will always remember this book because I loved, loved, loved, all the characters. Even when I was furious with them for their stubbornness and their inability to see what was right in front of them, I still loved them.
This book is full of beautiful scenery, and the description of everyday life on a sheep station in Australia in the early 1900's is exactly the type of thing I love to read about in books...a little trip back in time to see how others live. I'm so interested in the little details of how people lived in the past.
But I think most of all The Thorn Birds is a story about perseverance and the strength of the human spirit. It's about how as people living in this world we know bad things will happen, but we keep on living anyway. I finally get the title now. In the beginning of The Thorn Birds there is a legend written about a bird...
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 up 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 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.
So just in case you haven't guessed all ready...I would definitely recommend this book to anyone but especially to those who love historical fiction.