THE THORN BIRDS by Colleen McCullough
Kirkus Star


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A hefty night-table bender which, in its stretch from 1915 to 1969, encompasses the sledgehammer woes and nuptial/extra-nuptial flights of three sturdy women of succeeding generations. New Zealander Fiona, who has a child by a magnetic politician, gets married off to Padraic Cleary, well below her station but a good man for a' that. Valiant Fiona wearily toils on in poverty, bearing innumerable sons and one daughter, Meggie, before Paddy's land-rich, widowed sister imports the family to Australia. Enter Father Ralph, whose ambition will carry him to Vatican prominence, but whose love.for the child Meggie will lead, when she is a woman, to a passion he cannot control. Meggie, loving only Ralph, will marry cold hand Luke, brutally callous. She tricks Luke into fatherhood and bears Justine before spinning into paradise with Father Ralph--who has temporarily flung cassock to the winds. Gentle son Dane, who will, ironically, become a priest, is the result. But deaths dog the family: Fiona's favorite sons, then Paddy, and then Dane and Ralph. Indestructible Fiona and Meggie are left to bring about Justine's promising marriage to a sensitive, happily exiled German. Again, as in her last, Tim (1974), McCullough's groaning tuckerbag of implausibilities is redeemed somewhat by her sure footing among the shearing sheds and landscapes of Australia.

Pub Date: May 11th, 1977
ISBN: 0061990477
Publisher: Harper & Row