June 4, 2007

Forbidden Love...

I finished reading The Thorn Birds today and I must say that I think this is the best book I have ever read in my life. 10 stars!!!!!!!!!!! I will try my best to articulate my feelings about this classic and give an accurate synopsis without giving away the whole book.

The book begins:

There is a legend about a bird which just sings once in it's life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves it's 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 it's own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightengale. 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 says the legend. (The Thorn Birds, p.1)

From the moment the first page is opened it transports you into another world, a world where faith and love are tested and hard lessons are learned... and not learned. The book centers around the Cleary family, but focuses mostly on seven year old Meggie Cleary, the only daughter amongst a lot of brothers. Born into a poor, Irish sheep shearing family in New Zealand, Meggie is taught right away that she must look after herself and finds that the only person she can really rely on is her oldest brother Frank. Neither mother or father coddle the young girl or show any affection, only Frank, and she clings to him as if he's the only person who will ever love her.

Fast forward 3 years later...the family recieves a letter from their wealthy, wicked Aunt Mary from Australia asking them to move there and learn to man her sheep and tend to her farm. In return, when she dies she will leave them with a life they never could have dreamed before. Mary is old and knows she hasn't much longer to live, but she's also greedy and wants the money to stay in the family once she's dead. They soon leave New Zealand in hope for prosperity and a new future. After a long journey by land and sea they arrive in the Outback, unsure of what their new future holds.

At 10 years old, Meggie has never seen such a place. Going from New Zealand, where the lands are green and the rain is abundant, to the dry, brown landscape of Autralia was a culture shock for all of the family. Meeting them at the train station, is Father Ralph De Bricassart, Aunt Mary's long time confidante and friend. Standing there in the dusty breeze, long black soutane billowing around him, Meggie felt as if she was seeing God in the flesh. She described him as a beautiful man, full of charm and his blue eyes....what kind, warm eyes. Father Ralph is immediately taken with Meggie, just as she is to him. From that very moment of their meeting, a connection of the spirit and soul was made between them and from that moment on it remained. Father Ralph couldn't put a name to his feelings for Meggie, but he immediately felt protective of her and wanted only the best for her. He saw the wisdom in her grey, child-like eyes and they touched a part of him he couldn't understand.

As Meggie grew older Father Ralph was there to help ease her growing pains and be the "father", and sometimes mother, she never really had. Life on Drogheda (their new home) was hard and rought with difficulties, strife, sorrow and heartache and Ralph was there for Meggie through all of her troubles and her family's pain.

As Meggie grew older, their bond strenghtened, changed, evolved into something he or she couldn't control, but had been there all along...stirring, growing, stifled. Their love was born from the soul, it couldn't be denied, smothered or ignored, not matter who stood in the way...God or man. With that comes the story of forbidden love and human nature that drives us all. Many think that hate is like a cancer that can eat away at you until there is nothing left. But love, a love that cannot be materialized for worldly or material reasons can also eat away at one's soul. This story depicts that fine line between love and hate and demonstrates the rot of the soul that not only comes from ambition, greed and hate, but also from an intense love that is plucked away, never allowed to bloom again.

Father Ralph and Meggie's love for one another is so palpable and heartbreaking. Loving what you cannot have, having what you do not want. Decades of longing, yearning, unable to express their feelings because he is married to the church and God(faithfully) and she must face it to move on. But does one ever move on? How can one move on when a part of your soul rests in another human being? Yes, they do get the chance to express their fleshly desires, their untamed love, but at what price? Selling your soul to the devil? Forsaking God Almighty? What price does one pay when such a vow is broken? Well, you get to find out if you read the book. ;-)

This isn't just a story of a priest and his undying love of a woman...this is a saga that spans across 54 years of a family and their struggles, their sorrows and their loss. It's a story of revenge, jealousy, faith, will, love, life, death, ambition and the cost of one's heart and soul. It's a poetic masterpiece the way Colleen McCullough described the landscape, the inner strife and the emotions of the human condition. From New Zealand to Australia. From Australia to Rome. From Rome to Greece...it's a beautful book. I highly recommend it and personally think that everyone should read it in their lifetime.

Next I am going to watch the mini-series. I have to now damnit! I can't stop thinking of this book and the emotions it brought out in me. It had better be good and it looks as though it might be. I found this little snippet on ...where else? You tube.