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09 April 2010 @ 10:11 pm
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough

I can't decide: is this Gone with the Wind as told by A.B. Facey, or Oscar and Lucinda as told by Mills and Boon? I incline towards the former, if only because Oscar and Lucinda, in hindsight, reads like Carey took the Thorn Birds and said, "I can do that better." (And he did - but only by comparison.)

The story: the Cleary family emigrate from New Zealand to Australia to work on their aunt's ranch. The only daughter, Meggie - a ridic diminution of Meghann - falls in love with the local priest, Ralph de Bricassart. He turns her down; so far, so obvious. But even after falling in love with her, he continues on in his career. He goes to Rome and becomes a cardinal! I would have thought the 'fancying a woman' part would give him a hint, no?

Meggie marries to spite him, has a baby, ditches the husband, coerces Ralph into fathering another baby for her, and goes back to Drogheda. I must have seen part of the TV series at one point, because I remember loling endlessly at the way they pronounced Drogheda. 'Drog-hee-da' instead of 'Droh-head-a', even though they were all supposedly Irish.

It was super, super trashy - the trashiest thing I've read since the Valley of the Dolls. As such, it was enormously entertaining, even if I spent a lot of time wanting to kill Ralph, Meggie or both. The book spans a lot of time and tends to resolve tangled issues by having people get old and die. I suppose that's one way to go about it.

her character, which he saw as the perfect female character, passive yet enormously strong. No rebel, Meggie; on the contrary. All her life she would obey, move within the boundaries of her female fate.


The frogs loved the screening, too. Little fellows they were, green with a delicate overlay of glossy gold. On suckered feet they crept up the outside of the mesh to stare motionless at the diners, very solemn and dignified.

I got so homesick for Australia whilst reading this. The trees! The galahs! Of course, the frogs; there's pictures of me with those little green frogs on my belly. They are the friendliest amphibians you'll ever meet.

Twelve thousand miles of it, to the other side of the world. And whether they came home again or not, they would belong neither here, nor there, for they would have lived on two continents and sampled two different ways of life.

I know what that feels like too...

"Justine, you're a savage! Let me order for you!"
"No, dammit, I won't! I'm perfectly capable of thinking for myself, and I don't need some bloody man always to tell me what I want and when I want it, do you hear?"

Justine is the saving grace of this book. She is AWESOME. I couldn't imagine a worse fate than to have my son announce his intention of becoming a priest. I don't understand why Meggie always considered Justine a 'monster'; if she is, she's a monster of AWESOME.

My mother tells me the old Cardinal died a few hours after I left Drogheda. Funny, Mum was quite cut up about his dying. Not that she said anything, but I know her. Beats me why she and Dane and you liked him so much. I never could, I thought he was too smarmy for words. An opinion I'm not prepared to change just because he's dead.


Previously, on Book Glomp 2010:
The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories, Anton Chekhov
I'll take you there, Joyce Carol Oates
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
The School for Husbands, Moliere
On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks
The Famished Road, Ben Okri
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
The Sea, the Sea, Irish Murdoch
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
The Sea, John Banville
paddy clarke ha ha ha, Roddy Doyle
the claw-foot Ladysoftlyforgotten on May 11th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
I don't understand why Meggie always considered Justine a 'monster'; if she is, she's a monster of AWESOME.
LOLOL BECAUSE COLLEEN MCCULLOUGH HAS MASSIVE MUMMY ISSUES. I was reading an interview with her talking about how much she hated her mum and thought mothers screwed up their daughters lives and was like, your book makes so much more sense now!!! :D

Basically: I agree with all of this! Yeah trashy! \o/
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on May 11th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, so she really was behind Justine's POV? Phew!

secretsolitairesecretsolitaire on May 11th, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
Isn't Justin awesome? I can't remember the name of the guy she ends up with...Rainer?...but I remember liking him too. I was so sick of Meggie's generation by the end...I hated all of them, LOL.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on May 11th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Rainer was pretty cool, but, like, it was sooooooo convenient that Ralph rescued him earlier in the book. YOU'RE ALLOWED TO MAKE UP A NEW CHARACTER COLLEEN.