Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: THE THORN BIRDS

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Catholics. They love their guilt. I don’t know what to think of this book. I’m trying to procrastinate thinking of the book by considering the made-for-tv miniseries. It was the second-most watched miniseries coming in behind Roots. I am sure it was considerably less difficult to get such an audience back in 1983, when there were only three TV stations to choose from. TV producers had it easy.


The book describes the lives of three generations of women. The book was published in 1977, but the books starts of in 1915. The book focuses on a forbidden romance between a priest and an Australian rancher’s daughter. Shenanigans ensue. Shenanigans like the woman gets pregnant but hides the pregnancy from the priest. The woman feels victorious in that she’s stolen a child from the priest. Years later victory is snatched from her with her son chooses to enter the priesthood. Victory is stolen from everyone when the young man dies in a swimming accident.

I think the author wants me to feel bad for the woman. I don’t feel bad for her. I do, however, feel bad for the way in which most of the characters failed to connect with each other. The woman gets angry at the priest for choosing his career/calling over her. She marries someone out of spite. Is it really a wonder that it didn’t turn out well? Characters withhold information from each other with alarming frequency. Should we be surprised that the relationships suffer from a lack of authenticity?

This plot comes straight out of a soap opera. The deception and ulterior motives all say Guiding Light. I can’t connect with characters like that. I did like reading about Australia though. So, yeah, I won’t be reading this again. I might be watching the miniseries, mostly because I don’t understand how Richard Chamberlain got cast as the incredibly attractive priest. Should you read this book? If you love soap operas, have at it.

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