Kind of off-topic, but you may quit reading if you like. Just wanted to post that Colleen McCullough passed away yesterday (Jan. 29). Apparently, her obit is causing a stir among feminist circles as it referred to her weight and lack of hotness. But I don’t care about that, because it’s not about ME.
What is about me is that I, um, became rather fixated on The Thorn Birds back in my undergrad days. I know, it’s kind of on par with my fondness for new age music. Nevertheless, I did quite like it. Recall this was the early 1980s when all things Australian were the rage here (Men At Work, Crocodile Dundee, Elle Macpherson). Add to that I was just getting into the nitty gritty of archaeology and spending hours and hours pawing through bones and junk, and going through some personal stuff involving a young lady and thinking the French Foreign Legion sounded like a nice alternative career path, and you have a recipe for latching onto some sweeping period tale involving love and loss. I still think it’s a pretty nice book, more on the chick-lit side to be sure, but I enjoyed it. Still do, I read it every couple of years. Primarily, I like the idea of self-sacrifice for something better:
“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 outcarol 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.”
Which is very true. Most very successful people sacrifice an awful lot to be the best at what they do. Though after watching many archaeologists who I considered very successful lead really screwed up lives, it started to wear on me whether or not I wanted to go that route.
Much of the language is really stilted; I think Rachel Ward who played one of the main characters in the miniseries hated the role and some of the lines she had to say (I watched it but didn’t care much for it). I still quote some of them to myself every now and then (“Nothing is given without a disadvantage in it” which is really true). I know a lot of Aussies who hate it (“That’s nothing like Australia!”), but I don’t like it because I think it describes Oz with great accuracy. I just like the story.
Odd, but for someone who doesn’t read much fiction, the two books that probably most influenced my young life were both fiction: The Thorn Birds and James P. Hogan’s Inherit The Stars. Both of those I feel almost compelled to read every couple of years, and they are so very different. The ArchaeoWife even bought me a decent hardcover first edition of Thorn Birds a few years ago because my old paperback was falling apart.
So anyway. Thanks, Colleen. Requiescat in Pace.