Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel and Blood Rose Angel
What we thought: A timeless classic, this was my third reading of The Thornbirds, and I enjoyed it just as much after a 20-year interval.
Popular and acclaimed Australian author, Colleen McCullough explores three generations of the Irish Cleary family, ranchers who carve out their lives from the rugged, beautiful and harsh land of their home in the Australian outback. Battling tragedy, the unforgiving extremes of weather and the absolute isolation of their home, the Clearys are also driven by their dreams, wedged apart by their passions, and suffer from the secrets of forbidden love upon which their very family is structured.
Above all, The Thornbirds is an intense, almost overwhelming, romance: the tale of forbidden love between the Cleary’s only daughter, Meggie and the man she so desperately loves, but can never have: Father Ralph de Bricassart. As Ralph rises through the priesthood ranks, from parish priest right up to the innermost circles of the Vatican, he too, endures a lifelong love of Meggie.
But there is so much more to The Thornbirds. Through her outstanding prose, the author transports the reader to the heat, the flies, the desolation of the Drogheda homestead in the Australian outback. She brings to life not only the characters, but also the place, which becomes as much a character we can love and sympathise with, as the human ones.
The story about the thornbird, at the beginning is an apt introduction, both for this story and for life in general: all sadness will pass, and one day something beautiful will come from that pain.
The Thornbirds is a page-turning emotional roller-coaster of a saga. On my list of one of the best, life-changing books I’ve read, I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys family drama, romance, action and adventure.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: complex family sagas.
Avoid if you dislike: tragic stories set in the Australian outback.
Ideal accompaniments: a cool glass of Barossa Valley Shiraz and a comfy chair in the shade.
Genre: Historical family saga.
Available from Amazon