Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

2013 Reread #9

This book really epitomizes the word, "timeless." It's always going to feel relevant somehow regardless of the time period it actually takes place in, regardless of all the news media surrounding the Catholic clergy into today's media. These characters will always just blow me away. Their lives will never stop being interesting. I still welled up with tears at the very end.

If you haven't read this book at some point in your life then you're truly missing out. It belongs on that Must Read list you keep in the back of your mind. I initially read this book in high school, I believe, and this is the first time I've picked it back up. I actually remembered a lot of the story whether from the book making an impression or the movie, I'm not sure. I even knew a girl in college who was named after Meggie. It's a family saga, following characters through three generations. Ultimately, it's the few female characters who help us witness the world and learn about the family - their characters are the most developed - although you really do feel like you know this whole family inside and out as the generations go by. The family starts off in New Zealand and eventually moves to Australia. They essentially live in various stages of wealth and work coming to place a high emotional value on the land they maintain - it's really what they build a relationship with more so than people. Lots of things happen although the tragic moments always feel more intense than the happy ones as if the real passion lies in coming out of adversity or just staying strong through it. It's a book about life although I wouldn't call it typical.

Stories that fully develop a reality by focusing on a small amount of people in a very specific location draw a reader into the world and make you as much a character as the characters themselves. Their lives wouldn't go on if you weren't reading them. All of their passions and fears, hardships and love wouldn't be felt if you weren't feeling them alongside them. It gives a book presence and makes it really sink in as you read. I know The Thorn Birds is just such a book. I was reading it in my doctor's office recently and both one of the doctors and another patient saw the book and had that excited, "that is such a great book," type of reaction to it. We all shared a knowing smile and went about our way, but it was a connection made from a story and that's powerful stuff.