About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

T is for "The Thorn Birds"

"The Thorn Birds," the 1977 best-selling novel by Australian author Colleen McCullough, is one of my favourite books of all time. In 1983, it was adapted as a TV mini-series and I was glued to the set for 10 hours between March 27 and 30. The story focuses on the Cleary family and spans the years 1915 to 1969 on Drogheda, a fictional sheep station in the Australian outback. The epic drama has it all - romance, tragedy, forbidden love, sex, and transcendence. It starred Richard Chamberlain as the young Catholic priest who was banished to the outback because of an act of disobedience and Rachel Ward as the lone Cleary daughter who fell in love with him.

Something of interest - While winning the 1983 Golden Globe award for Best MiniSeries, The Thorn Birds was not without its controversy. The subject matter--a priest breaking his vow of celibacy--was contestable enough, but the fact that ABC chose to broadcast the program beginning on Palm Sunday and running through Holy Week, raised the ire of the United States Catholic Conference. In response, McDonald's Corporation initially requested that its franchisees not advertise during the broadcasts. In the end, however, the company simply advised its franchisees to advertise only before Father Ralph and Meggie consummated their relationship.

Back in 1983, I thought that the mini-series was well done, if at times overly dramatic. However, you might be interested in reading Germaine Greer's take on the novel as she describes it thus in 2007 after rereading it: It would probably be over the top to denounce The Thorn Birds as a sneakily racist and sectarian book, but it is definitely contrived and insidious. I guess 32 years after the book was published, one might see her point. I must get my copy out and read it again.
ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Nesbitt here.

13 comments:

Maggie May said...

I saw the drama when it was televised and I really enjoyed it.

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

I was so glued to a videod copy of that, brought back from Australia before it was ever shown in New Zealand - i was heavily pregnant, 1985, and i snivelled and sobbed all though it - watched almost continously with no ads... bliss. I still have the love theme and the main theme on my laptop today!!!

Before that, when I had worked as a vet in Auckland, my boss used to fly over to spey dogs etc in Norfolk Island - where Ms McCullough was his client. I was asked to choose a kitten for her - so she gained a glorious silver tabby - which she loved.

happy memories
just bummer that RC was eventually outed as gay lol - usual thoughts - what a waste...

Babooshka said...

I remember the series. My mom had a thing about Richard Chamberlain so we had to watch it. Nostalgic.

Carol said...

I have not watched this series or read the book; but I think I will get the book now. I always like to read before viewing.

nancygrayce said...

I loved it! I am just sappy like that!

Mara said...

I've never seen this series (I was only about 9 or 10 at the time), but have seen Richard Chamberlain as Prince Charming. Nothing controversial about that!

jay said...

Oh gosh .. I remember the Thorn Birds! I read the book first, and was surprised that I enjoyed the series so much afterwards. Richard Chamberlain helped though - I thought he was pretty good in the role, as well as quite pretty. LOL!

Q said...

I also enjoyed the mini series.
Sherry

Jo said...

I read the book and saw the mini-series and loved them both. I didn't notice the racism, but I guess I will have to read the book again. I did note the irony, however, in casting a gay man to play a priest who breaks his vows of celibacy. Given the history of many of the priests in the Catholic church, I wonder if that casting would be done today.

And ... I think the story is much (much!!!) more common than people know. I have personally known at least one Catholic priest who broke his vow of celibacy. He is now happily married and no longer a priest.

sally in norfolk said...

I loved this when it was on the tv...and recently got it on DVD but have not watched it again yet :-)

Pear tree cottage! said...

It still gives me bumps! when I even hear the music. I wanted so much to live just like them.......in that beautiful home.

Just also wanted to share with you one of our daughters is having another baby in July......we are all truly blessed with grand children arn't we.

Lee-ann

Carolyn said...

Great post! I loved the book and the mini-series, and had loved (and still do) Richard Chamberlain forever. Ahhhhhhhh.

Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown met on that set, and have lived in Sydney for a long time now. They are in the local press fairly regularly.

As others have said, makes me want to reread the book and view the series again. Thanks for the memories.

Cheers from Sydney (and sometimes Paris).

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