Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

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100 Books by 40: THE THORN BIRDS

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.


100 Books by 40: Brideshead Revisited

Welcome to my experiment post. I am cranking out a post in twenty minutes. I will read though this next week and evaluate the results of the experiment. I expect lots of grammatical errors and convoluted points. Here we go.

And yet another book about morality and religion, that’s what Brideshead Revisited is. Granted there is some beautiful writing in there. But like Anna Karinina, the author is pontificating about God. The main character describes his relationship to a Catholic family across a couple of decades. There’s lots of suffering. There’s lots of guilt. There’s lots of agonizing about one’s own guilt.

Given that the family is Catholic, I shouldn’t be surprised that guilt takes the staring emotional role. Everyone in the book is miserable. When they are indulging themselves, they are miserable because they feel guilty. When they are making morally sound choices, they are miserable. That makes reading this book miserable.

This book was written in the 40’s. There is one openly gay character, and a homosexual attraction. This is my theory. The author is Catholic and gay. When I realized that I was gay, I felt hopeless. Both of my paths forward looked bleak. Either I say in the closet and sacrifice having the meaningful connection that we all crave, or I come out and disappoint almost everyone I knew. I couldn’t see a bright future in either of those choices. After considering how much I would need to hide my genuine self, I knew I couldn’t stay in the closet. I would rather face judgment than lose my authenticity. Feeling like you have no good option is oppressive. That’s what I was sensing in this book.

A quick internet search confirmed my suspicions. And after wallowing in his self-loathing for the hours it took to complete the book, I was reminded of that place I was in. What a prison. I found the book trough to get through because of my own experiences that I found echoing in those pages. Now then, I am stepping back out of my closet. That place was miserable.