The Thorn Birds (Chapter 131-134)
The Thorn Birds
by Colleen McCullough
“You won’t be a guest,” he said, answering the first part of her tirade. “You’ll be my hostess, which is quite different. Will you do it?”
She wiped the tears away with the back of her hand and said gruffly, “Yes.”
It turned out to be more enjoyable than she had dared hope, for Rain’s house was truly beautiful and he himself in such a good mood Justine couldn’t help but become infected by it. She arrived properly though a little too flamboyantly gowned for his taste, but after an involuntary grimace at first sight of her shocking-pink slipper satin, he tucked her arm through his and conducted her around the premises before the guests arrived. Then during the evening he behaved perfectly, treating her in front of the others with an offhand intimacy which made her feel both useful and wanted. His guests were so politically important her brain didn’t want to think about the sort of decisions they must have to make. Such ordinary people, too. That made it worse.
“I wouldn’t have minded so much if even one of them had displayed symptoms of the Chosen Few,” she said to him after they had gone, glad of the chance to be alone with him and wondering how quickly he was going to send her home. “You know, like Napoleon or Churchill. There’s a lot to be said for being convinced one is a man of destiny, if one is a statesman. Do you regard yourself as a man of destiny?”
He winced. “You might choose your questions better when you’re quizzing a German, Justine. No, I don’t, and it isn’t good for politicians to deem themselves men of destiny. It might work for a very few, though I doubt it, but the vast bulk of such men cause themselves and their countries endless trouble.”
She had no desire to argue the point. It had served its purpose in getting a certain line of conversation started; she could change the subject without looking too obvious. “The wives were a pretty mixed bunch, weren’t they?” she asked artlessly. “Most of them were far less presentable than I was, even if you don’t approve of hot pink. Mrs. Whatsit wasn’t too bad, and Mrs. Hoojar simply disappeared into the matching wallpaper, but Mrs. Gumfoozler was abominable. How does her husband manage to put up with her? Oh, men are such fools about choosing their wives!”
“Justine! When will you learn to remember names? It’s as well you turned me down, a fine politician’s wife you would have made. I heard you er-umming when you couldn’t remember who they were. Many men with abominable wives have succeeded very well, and just as many with quite perfect wives haven’t succeeded at all. In the long run it doesn’t matter, because it’s the caliber of the man which is put to the test. There are few men who marry for reasons purely politic.”
That old ability to put her in her place could still shock; she made him a mock salaam to hide her face, then sat down on the rug.
“Oh, do get up, Justine!”
Instead she defiantly curled her feet under her and leaned against the wall to one side of the fireplace, stroking Natasha. She had discovered on her arrival that after Cardinal Vittorio’s death Rain had taken his cat; he seemed very fond of it, though it was old and rather crotchety.
“Did I tell you I was going home to Drogheda for good?” she asked suddenly.
He was taking a cigarette out of his case; the big hands didn’t falter or tremble, but proceeded smoothly with their task. “You know very well you didn’t tell me,” he said.
“Then I’m telling you now.”
“When did you come to this decision?”
“Five days ago. I’m leaving at the end of this week, I hope. It can’t come soon enough.”
“Is that all you’ve got to say about it?”
“What else is there to say, except that I wish you happiness in whatever you do?” He spoke with such complete composure she winced.
“Why, thank you!” she said airily. “Aren’t you glad I won’t be in your hair much longer?”
“You’re not in my hair, Justine,” he answered.
She abandoned Natasha, picked up the poker and began rather savagely nudging the crumbling logs, which had burned away to hollow shells; they collapsed inward in a brief flurry of sparks, and the heat of the fire abruptly decreased. “It must be the demon of destructiveness in us, the impulse to poke the guts out of a fire. It only hastens the end. But what a beautiful end, isn’t it, Rain?”
Apparently he wasn’t interested in what happened to fires when they were poked, for he merely asked, “By the end of the week, eh? You’re not wasting much time.”
“What’s the point in delaying?”
“And your career?”
“I’m sick of my career. Anyway, after Lady Macbeth what is there left to do?”
“Oh, grow up, Justine! I could shake you when you come out with such sophomoric rot! Why not simply say you’re not sure the theater has any challenge for you anymore, and that you’re homesick?”
“All right, all right, all right! Have it any way you bloody well want! I was being my usual flippant self. Sorry I offended!” She jumped to her feet. “Dammit, where are my shoes? What’s happened to my coat?”
Fritz appeared with both articles of clothing, and drove her home. Rain excused himself from accompanying her, saying he had things to do, but as she left he was sitting by the freshly built up fire, Natasha on his lap, looking anything but busy.
“Well,” said Meggie to her mother, “I hope we’ve done the right thing.”
Fee peered at her, nodded. “Oh, yes, I’m sure of it. The trouble with Justine is that she isn’t capable of making a decision like this, so we don’t have any choice. We must make it for her.”
“I’m not sure I like playing God. I think I know what she really wants to do, but even if I could tax her with it face to face, she’d prevaricate.”
“The Cleary pride,” said Fee, smiling faintly. “It does crop up in the most unexpected people.”
“Go on, it’s not all Cleary pride! I’ve always fancied there was a little dash of Armstrong in it as well.”
But Fee shook her head. “No. Whyever I did what I did, pride hardly entered into it. That’s the purpose of old age, Meggie. To give us a breathing space before we die, in which to see why we did what we did.”
“Provided senility doesn’t render us incapable first,” said Meggie dryly. “Not that there’s any danger of that in you. Nor in me, I suppose.”
“Maybe senility’s a mercy shown to those who couldn’t face retrospection. Anyway, you’re not old enough yet to say you’ve avoided senility. Give it another twenty years.”
“Another twenty years!” Meggie echoed, dismayed. “Oh, it sounds so long!”
“Well, you could have made those twenty years less lonely, couldn’t you?” Fee asked, knitting industriously.
“Yes, I could. But it wouldn’t have been worth it, Mum. Would it?” She tapped Justine’s letter with the knob of one ancient knitting needle, the slightest trace of doubt in her tone. “I’ve dithered long enough. Sitting here ever since Rainer came, hoping I wouldn’t need to do anything at all, hoping the decision wouldn’t rest with me. Yet he was right. In the end, it’s been for me to do.”
“Well, you might concede I did a bit too,” Fee protested, injured. “That is, once you surrendered enough of your pride to tell me all about it.”
“Yes, you helped,” said Meggie gently.
The old clock ticked; both pairs of hands continued to flash about the tortoise-shell stems of their needles.
“Tell me something, Mum,” said Meggie suddenly. “Why did you break over Dane when you didn’t over Daddy or Frank or Stu?”
“Break?” Fee’s hands paused, laid down the needles: she could still knit as well as in the days when she could see perfectly. “How do you mean, break?”
“As though it killed you.”
“They all killed me, Meggie. But I was younger for the first three, so I had the energy to conceal it better. More reason, too. Just like you now. But Ralph knew how I felt when Daddy and Stu died. You were too young to have seen it.” She smiled. “I adored Ralph, you know. He was…someone special. Awfully like Dane.”
“Yes, he was. I never realized you’d seen that, Mum—I mean their natures. Funny. You’re a Darkest Africa to me. There are so many things about you I don’t know.”
“I should hope so!” said Fee with a snort of laughter. Her hands remained quiet. “Getting back to the original subject—if you can do this now for Justine, Meggie, I’d say you’ve gained more from your troubles than I did from mine. I wasn’t willing to do as Ralph asked and look out for you. I wanted my memories…nothing but my memories. Whereas you’ve no choice. Memories are all you’ve got.”
“Well, they’re a comfort, once the pain dies down. Don’t you think so? I had twenty-six whole years of Dane, and I’ve learned to tell myself that what happened must be for the best, that he must have been spared some awful ordeal he might not have been strong enough to endure. Like Frank, perhaps, only not the same. There are worse things than dying, we both know that.”
“Aren’t you bitter at all?” asked Fee.
“Oh, at first I was, but for their sakes I’ve taught myself not to be.”
Fee resumed her knitting. “So when we go, there will be no one,” she said softly. “Drogheda will be no more. Oh, they’ll give it a line in the history books, and some earnest young man will come to Gilly to interview anyone he can find who remembers, for the book he’s going to write about Drogheda. Last of the mighty New South Wales stations. But none of his readers will ever know what it was really like, because they couldn’t. They’d have to have been a part of it.”
“Yes,” said Meggie, who hadn’t stopped knitting. “They’d have to have been a part of it.”
Saying goodbye to Rain in a letter, devastated by grief and shock, had been easy; in fact enjoyable in a cruel way, for she had lashed back then—I’m in agony, so ought you to be. But this time Rain hadn’t put himself in a position where a Dear John letter was possible. It had to be dinner at their favorite restaurant. He hadn’t suggested his Park Lane house, which disappointed but didn’t surprise her. No doubt he intended saying even his final goodbyes under the benign gaze of Fritz. Certainly he wasn’t taking any chances.
For once in her life she took care that her appearance should please him; the imp which usually prodded her into orange frills seemed to have retired cursing. Since Rain liked unadorned styles, she put on a floor-length silk jersey dress of dull burgundy red, high to the neck, long tight sleeves. She added a big flat collar of tortuous gold studded with garnets and pearls, and matching bracelets on each wrist. What horrible, horrible hair. It was never disciplined enough to suit him. More makeup than normal, to conceal the evidence of her depression. There. She would do if he didn’t look too closely.
He didn’t seem to; at least he didn’t comment upon weariness or possible illness, even made no reference to the exigencies of packing. Which wasn’t a bit like him. And after a while she began to experience a sensation that the world must be ending, so different was he from his usual self.
He wouldn’t help her make the dinner a success, the sort of affair they could refer to in letters with reminiscent pleasure and amusement. If she could only have persuaded herself that he was simply upset at her going, it might have been all right. But she couldn’t. His mood just wasn’t that sort. Rather, he was so distant she felt as if she were sitting with a paper effigy, one-dimensional and anxious to be off floating in the breeze, far from her ken. As if he had said goodbye to her already, and this meeting was a superfluity.
“Have you had a letter from your mother yet?” he asked politely.
“No, but I don’t honestly expect one. She’s probably bereft of words.”
“Would you like Fritz to take you to the airport tomorrow?”
“Thanks, I can catch a cab,” she answered ungraciously. “I wouldn’t want you to be deprived of his services.”
“I have meetings all day, so I assure you it won’t inconvenience me in the slightest.”
“I said I’d take a cab!”
He raised his eyebrows. “There’s no need to shout, Justine. Whatever you want is all right with me.”
He wasn’t calling her Herzchen any more; of late she had noticed its frequency declining, and tonight he had not used the old endearment once. Oh, what a dismal, depressing dinner this was! Let it be over soon! She found she was looking at his hands and trying to remember what they felt like, but she couldn’t. Why wasn’t life neat and well organized, why did things like Dane have to happen? Perhaps because she thought of Dane, her mood suddenly plummeted to a point where she couldn’t bear to sit still a moment longer, and put her hands on the arms of her chair.
“Do you mind if we go?” she asked. “I’m developing a splitting headache.”
At the junction of the High Road and Justine’s little mews Rain helped her from the car, told Fritz to drive around the block, and put his hand beneath her elbow courteously to guide her, his touch quite impersonal. In the freezing damp of a London drizzle they walked slowly across the cobbles, dripping echoes of their footsteps all around them. Mournful, lonely footsteps.
“So, Justine, we say goodbye,” he said.
“Well, for the time being, at any rate,” she answered brightly, “but it’s not forever, you know. I’ll be across from time to time, and I hope you’ll find the time to come down to Drogheda.”
He shook his head. “No. This is goodbye, Justine. I don’t think we have any further use for each other.”
“You mean you haven’t any further use for me,” she said, and managed a fairly creditable laugh. “It’s all right, Rain! Don’t spare me, I can take it!”
He took her hand, bent to kiss it, straightened, smiled into her eyes and walked away.
There was a letter from her mother on the mat. Justine stooped to pick it up, dropped her bag and wrap where it had lain, her shoes nearby, and went into the living room. She sat down heavily on a packing crate, chewing at her lip, her eyes resting for a moment in wondering, bewildered pity on a magnificent head-and-shoulders study of Dane taken to commemorate his ordination. Then she caught her bare toes in the act of caressing the rolled-up kangaroo-fur rug, grimaced in distaste and got up quickly.
A short walk to the kitchen, that was what she needed. So she took a short walk to the kitchen, where she opened the refrigerator, reached for the cream jug, opened the freezer door and withdrew a can of filter coffee. With one hand on the cold-water tap to run water for her coffee, she looked around wide-eyed, as it she had never seen the room before. Looked at the flaws in the wallpaper, at the smug philodendron in its basket hung from the ceiling, at the black pussy-cat clock wagging its tail and rolling its eyes at the spectacle of time being so frivolously frittered away. PACK HAIRBRUSH, said the blackboard in large capitals. On the table lay a pencil sketch of Rain she had done some weeks ago. And a packet of cigarettes. She took one and lit it, put the kettle on the stove and remembered her mother’s letter, which was still screwed up in one hand. May as well read it while the water heated. She sat down at the kitchen table, flipped the drawing of Rain onto the floor and planted her feet on top of it. Up yours, too, Rainer Moerling Hartheim! See if I care, you great dogmatic leather-coated Kraut twit. Got no further use for me, eh? Well, nor have I for you!
My dear Justine [said Meggie]
No doubt you’re proceeding with your usual impulsive speed, so I hope this reaches you in time. If anything I’ve said lately in my letters has caused this sudden decision of yours, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to provoke such a drastic reaction. I suppose I was simply looking for a bit of sympathy, but I always forget that under that tough skin of yours, you’re pretty soft.
Yes, I’m lonely, terribly so. Yet it isn’t anything your coming home could possibly rectify. If you stop to think for a moment, you’ll see how true that is. What do you hope to accomplish by coming home? It isn’t within your power to restore to me what I’ve lost, and you can’t make reparation either. Nor is it purely my loss. It’s your loss too, and Nanna’s, and all the rest. You seem to have an idea, and it’s quite a mistaken idea, that in some way you were responsible. This present impulse looks to me suspiciously like an act of contrition. That’s pride and presumption, Justine. Dane was a grown man, not a helpless baby.
I let him go, didn’t I? If I had let myself feel the way you do, I’d be sitting here blaming myself into a mental asylum because I had permitted him to live his own life. But I’m not sitting here blaming myself. We’re none of us God, though I think I’ve had more chance to learn that than you.
In coming home, you’re handing me your life like a sacrifice.
I don’t want it
. I never have wanted it. And I refuse it now. You don’t belong on Drogheda, you never did. If you still haven’t worked out where you do belong, I suggest you sit down right this minute and start some serious thinking. Sometimes you really are awfully dense. Rainer is a very nice man, but I’ve never yet met a man who could possibly be as altruistic as you seem to think he is. For Dane’s sake indeed! Do grow up, Justine!
My dearest one, a light has gone out. For all of us, a light has gone out. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, don’t you understand? I’m not insulting you by trying to pretend I’m perfectly happy. Such isn’t the human condition. But if you think we here on Drogheda spend our days weeping and wailing, you’re quite wrong. We enjoy our days, and one of the main reasons why is that our lights for you still burn. Dane’s light is gone forever. Please, dear Justine, try to accept that.
Come home to Drogheda by all means, we’d love to see you. But not for good. You’d never be happy settled here permanently. It is not only a needless sacrifice for you to make, but a useless one. In your sort of career, even a year spent away from it would cost you dearly. So stay where you belong, be a good citizen of your world.
The pain. It was like those first few days after Dane died. The same sort of futile, wasted, unavoidable pain. The same anguished impotence. No, of course there was nothing she could do. No way of making up, no way.
Scream! The kettle was whistling already. Hush, kettle, hush! Hush for Mummy! How does it feel to be Mummy’s only child, kettle? Ask Justine, she knows. Yes, Justine knows all about being the only child. But I’m not the child she wants, that poor fading old woman back on the ranch. Oh, Mum! Oh, Mum…Do you think if I humanly could, I wouldn’t? New lamps for old, my life for his! It isn’t fair, that Dane was the one to die…. She’s right. My going back to Drogheda can’t alter the fact that he never can. Though he lies there forever, he never can. A light has gone out, and I can’t rekindle it. But I see what she means. My light still burns in her. Only not on Drogheda. Fritz answered the door, not clad in his smart navy chauffeur’s uniform, clad in his smart butler’s morning suit instead. But as he smiled, bowed stiffly and clicked his heels in good old-fashioned German manner, a thought occurred to Justine; did he do double duty in Bonn, too?
“Are you simply Herr Hartheim’s humble servant, Fritz, or are you really his watchdog?” she asked, handing him her coat.
Fritz remained impassive. “Herr Hartheim is in his study, Miss O’Neill.”
He was sitting looking at the fire, leaning a little forward, Natasha curled sleeping on the hearth. When the door opened he looked up, but didn’t speak, didn’t seem glad to see her.
So Justine crossed the room, knelt, and laid her forehead on his lap. “Rain, I’m so sorry for all the years, and I can’t atone,” she whispered.
He didn’t rise to his feet, draw her up with him; he knelt beside her on the floor.
“A miracle,” he said.
She smiled at him. “You never did stop loving me, did you?”
“No, Herzchen, never.”
“I must have hurt you very much.”
“Not in the way you think. I knew you loved me, and I could wait. I’ve always believed a patient man must win in the end.”
“So you decided to let me work it out for myself. You weren’t a bit worried when I announced I was going home to Drogheda, were you?”
“Oh, yes. Had it been another man I would not have been perturbed, but Drogheda? A formidable opponent. Yes, I worried.”
“You knew I was going before I told you, didn’t you?”
“Clyde let the cat out of the bag. He rang Bonn to ask me if there was any way I could stop you, so I told him to play along with you for a week or two at any rate, and I’d see what I could do. Not for his sake, Herzchen. For my own. I’m no altruist.”
“That’s what Mum said. But this house! Did you have it a month ago?”
“No, nor is it mine. However, since we will need a London house if you’re to continue with your career, I’d better see what I can do to acquire it. That is, provided you like it. I’ll even let you have the redecorating of it, if you promise faithfully not to deck it out in pink and orange.”
“I’ve never realized quite how devious you are. Why didn’t you just say you still loved me? I wanted you to!”
“No. The evidence was there for you to see it for yourself, and you had to see if for yourself.”
“I’m afraid I’m chronically blind. I didn’t really see for myself, I had to have some help. My mother finally forced me to open my eyes. I had a letter from her tonight, telling me not to come home.”
“She’s a marvelous person, your mother.”
“I know you’ve met her, Rain—when?”
“I went to see her about a year ago. Drogheda is magnificent, but it isn’t you, Herzchen. At the time I went to try to make your mother see that. You’ve no idea how glad I am she has, though I don’t think anything I said was very enlightening.”
She put her fingers up to touch his mouth. “I doubted myself, Rain. I always have. Maybe I always will.”
“Oh, Herzchen, I hope not! For me there can never be anyone else. Only you. The whole world has known it for years. But words of love mean nothing. I could have screamed them at you a thousand times a day without affecting your doubts in the slightest. So I haven’t spoken my love, Justine, I’ve lived it. How could you doubt the feelings of your most faithful gallant?” He sighed. “Well, at least it hasn’t come from me. Perhaps you’ll continue to find your mother’s word good enough.”
“Please don’t say it like that! Poor Rain, I think I’ve worn even your patience to a thread. Don’t be hurt that it came from Mum. It doesn’t matter! I’ve knelt in abasement at your feet!”
“Thank God the abasement will only last for tonight,” he said more cheerfully. “You’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
The tension began to leave her; the worst of it was over. “What I like—no, love—about you the most is that you give me such a good run for my money I never do quite catch up.”
His shoulders shook. “Then look at the future this way, Herzchen. Living in the same house with me might afford you the opportunity to see how it can be done.” He kissed her brows, her cheeks, her eyelids. “I would have you no other way than the way you are, Justine. Not a freckle of your face or a cell of your brain.”
She slid her arms around his neck, sank her fingers into that satisfying hair. “Oh, if you knew how I’ve longed to do this!” she said. “I’ve never been able to forget.”
The cable said: HAVE JUST BECOME MRS RAINER MOERLING HARTHEIM STOP PRIVATE CEREMONY THE VATICAN STOP PAPAL BLESSINGS ALL OVER THE PLACE STOP THAT IS DEFINITELY BEING MARRIED EXCLAMATION WE WILL BE DOWN ON A DELAYED HONEYMOON AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BUT EUROPE IS GOING TO BE HOME STOP LOVE TO ALL AND FROM RAIN TOO STOP JUSTINE
Meggie put the form down on the table and stared wide-eyed through the window at the wealth of autumn roses in the garden. Perfume of roses, bees of roses. And the hibiscus, the bottlebrush, the ghost gums, the bougainvillaea up above the world so high, the pepper trees. How beautiful the garden was, how alive. To see its small things grow big, change, and wither; and new little things come again in the same endless, unceasing cycle.
Time for Drogheda to stop. Yes, more than time. Let the cycle renew itself with unknown people. I did it all to myself, I have no one else to blame. And I cannot regret one single moment of it.
The bird with the thorn in its breast, it follow an immunatable law; it is driven by it knows not what to impale itself, and die singing. At the very instant the thron enters there is no awareness in it of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life left to utter another note. But we, when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still we do it. Still we do it.
Colleen McCullough on…
Becoming a writer
I was too young to know how to write when I started writing—[that is to say,] in my head. Once I knew how to write with a pencil, nothing could have stopped me. I don’t think I ever thought of it as a talent to write books; I just loved to write.
First, you have to enjoy writing and, after that, at least in the case of writing novels, I think most people write to supplement their incomes. I certainly started writing professionally to earn some extra money. [In terms of advice on how to become a professional writer,] try to plan your writing career so that what you produce is something a publisher thinks people will want to read. [One way to test that is to actually write the book:] I am one of those writers who writes the book before negotiating with a publisher.
What she’s like when she’s writing
I’m about the same as I always am: obsessive, nitpicking, and oblivious to the outside world.
Seeing one’s book become a film
It feels dreadful.
Where ideas come from
That is not a question I can really answer. I get an idea for a book and I go with it, but I don’t usually get the same [sort of] idea again.
A rule on works in progress
Never show what you write to the people who are closest to you.
I do most of the editing—that is, the framing of how the book is going to be and how to express it in prose. Once I have the book in late draft an editor at the publishing house takes over and edits it again. [But the editor can’t change much:] The writer of a book has to approve every change an editor suggests. Sometimes an editor has good suggestions to make; at other times the writer may not agree with the editor’s comments. In the case of the latter, then the writer wins.
The book she enjoyed writing the most and why
A Creed for the Third Millennium. I’m very concerned about the world population explosion. (I set A Creed for the Third Millennium in the U.S. because I lived there for fifteen years and I view it very well. It also suited the theme of the book to situate it in the U.S.)
An Indecent Obsession
I wrote An Indecent Obsession because I was interested in exploring a situation wherein one woman was in control of a group of men.
Not being overwhelmed by the success of The Thorn Birds
I didn’t have to “get back to writing”: I never stopped writing. The only thing that I did vow was that I would never write Son of Thorn Birds—and I never have.
I love doing the research and I like my facts to be correct. Provided that I am writing fiction, there is still plenty of room for a writer to use her imagination.
I am an old war buff. There is very little that I don’t know about the mechanics of war, whether it is war in the time of Julius Caesar or war in the twentieth century.
Identifying with characters
When writing fiction I think the writer always feels close to the main characters. For myself I always love my villains as well.
Who her favorite character is in The Thorn Birds
Why she lives where she lives
I moved to Norfolk Island [off Australia’s east coast] twenty years ago from the United States because the very few remaining members of my family were growing old and I wanted to be closer to them. I also was living on my own and wanted to continue living on my own, so I was looking for somewhere safe for a famous woman to live and that’s how I wound up on Norfolk Island.
Adapted from “A Current Affair: Live Chat with Colleen McCullough,” November 5, 1998, on the occasion of the publication of Ms. McCullough’s biography of Roden Cutler, V.C., and posted, at the time of this e-book publication (June 2003), at http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/stories/114.asp.
About the Author
Colleen McCullough enjoys worldwide renown, and her novels are bestsellers in a multitude of languages. She is the author of Tim (1974), The Thorn Bird’s (1977), An Indecent Obsession (1981), A Creed for the Third Millennium (1985), The Ladies of Missalonghi (1987); The First Man in Rome (1990), The Grass Crown (1991), Fortune’s Favorites (1993), Caesar’s Women (1996), Caesar (1997); and Morgan’s Run (2000). She lives with her husband, Ric Robinson, on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.
Visit http://www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.
Praise for Colleen McCullough and her beloved classic THE THORN BIRDS
“A perfect read…beautiful…gripping…The kind of book the word blockbuster was made for. It keeps you hanging till the last paragraph.”
“Refreshing, addictive, infectious, and fast…A rich Proustian potpourri of times, places, and people…an old-fashioned rattling good tale.”
“Exhilarating…bursting with happiness as well as pain. The novel explodes with a powerful sensitivity for human emotions.”
“Vastly entertaining…It has that certain something that happens only when a natural storyteller is thoroughly enjoying telling her story. It ingratiates, it holds, it lives.”
New Haven Register
“A towering saga…Try this book.”
Chicago Sun Times
“The interweaving of love stories from one generation to the next, the dramatic plotting, the sense of steadily mounting tension, the believable characterizations….are well-night irresistible”
“A fine, long, absorbing book, with the best heart-throb since Rhett Butler.”
“A superb work of fiction by a born storyteller.”
King Features Syndicate
“[McCullough is] a creative colossus.”
“I loved The Thorn Birds .”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“The Thorn Birds is one of my favorite books.”
Greensboro News & Record
“The story is superbly told. McCullough deals with the vast canvas of characters with assurance. Never for one moment does the pace flag. Never for an instant does her control fail her. There are times when you are left gasping…This is an unselfconscious blockbuster of a book. I read it with immense pleasure, enjoyed every page, and heartily recommend it as a thumping ‘good read.’”
Times of London
“There’s something for everyone in this book. Just jump in and enjoy it.”
United Press International
“A master storyteller.”
Los Angeles Times
“She writes as if to improve on life…Enjoy, Colleen, enjoy. You give pleasure with The Thorn Birds.”
New York Times Book Review