Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Thorn Birds

After many partial readings, I finally managed to complete a book. I just read the very well known "Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough. It fits into my Orbis Terrarum Challenge as well. Though primarily based in Australia.. I would like to classify this as New Zealand/Australia since we get to know a lot about life in both those places in the early to mid 1900s.

Usually, the first part of books drag a bit. It takes a while to set the mood and then the story usually takes off. Thorn Birds doesn't fall under this category. The story is captivating from the very first page!

The very first page says this :- "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 upon 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."

This little legend, in short describes the crux of the novel. Parallels can be drawn between the novel and this legend at various points of the story. It is primarily a family saga describing the life of the Cleary family from their New Zealand days until fortune decides to smile on them and they find themselves in the the Australian outback. Though it is primarily a family saga, what makes the book more interesting is its powerful romance. The romance between Meggie and Ralph is more obvious (though rather scandalous).. but somehow, the one that tugged at my heart more was the love that Fiona had for Paddy. It kinda makes you realize the importance of saying what you feel before it too late..

The only thing that I didn't like too much about the book was its strong Feminism. The author portrays women in a very strong role- be it Mary Carson, Fee, Meggie or Justine. They are strong willed women who can survive any hardship. But somehow the men in the story are strongly lacking. They all seem pretty weak hearted and at the mercy of the drogheda women. I found that a little hard to digest. The only man who wasn't weak hearted was quite a mean man.. so there were no nice strong willed men in the story..I personally would have preferred the nice men to have stronger hearts..
Apart from that one little quirk, i totally enjoyed reading the book.
I am sure all of you must have already read thorn birds by now.. if you havent then you really really should. It is definitely a must read!