Saturday, January 31, 2015

In Memoriam - Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough was passed away at the age of 77.

McCullough will be remembered first and foremost as author of The Thorn Birds - a dramatic and moving story of multiple generations of the Cleary family set in the Australian outback in the early twentieth century. A classic during McCullough's lifetime, The Thorn Birds continues to delight new readers who enjoy absorbing characters, dramatic family tension and romance.

Articles in memory of Colleen McCullough also speak of her work in neuroscience. This Quill and Quire piece tells us of her outstanding reputation as a researcher and of her time at Yale University where she taught neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neurological electronics.

All this and a bestselling novelist as well. She wrote more than 20 novels, including the Masters of Rome series - seven novels which detail the final days of the Roman Empire, written over 20 years and rich with political and historical detail.

Her most recent novel, entitled Bittersweet was published in 2013 and fans of Thorn Birds were delighted with the her storytelling once again.

"Because they are two sets of twins, the four Latimer sisters are as close as can be. Yet these vivacious young women each have their own dreams for themselves: Edda wants to be a doctor, Tufts wants to organize everything, Grace won’t be told what to do, and Kitty wishes to be known for something other than her beauty. They are famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit, and ambition, but as they step into womanhood, they are not enthusiastic about the limited prospects life holds for them. Together they decide to enroll in a training program for nurses—a new option for women of their time, who have previously been largely limited to the role of wives, and preferably mothers. ... Rendered with McCullough’s trademark historical accuracy, this dramatic coming of age tale is wise in the ways of the human heart, one that will transport readers to a time in history that feels at once exotic and yet not so very distant from our own." publisher

I will always remember The Thorn Birds, along with other sagas by Sidney Sheldon and  Fred Mustard Stewart (and of course Agatha Christie mysteries) as the first "grown up" books I ever read.

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