Now, when I was reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez a while back, he happened to die during that time. If it happens once, sure, it is creepy, but he is a famous author and someone was bound to be reading one of his books at that very moment. However, as I was reading The Thorn Birds (1977), Colleen McCullough died. At this point, I freaked a little bit more. What if my choice of books leads to the authors dying… I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I still thought twice about what I read next. Luckily, Joyce Carol Oates is still alive and breathing.
The Thorn Birds is a family saga that takes place mainly in rural Australia, but also in the Vatican and London. The Clearys leave a poor existence in New Zealand and move to a relative at Drogheda station in Australia, a property they later on inherit. Well, kind of at least. It ends up in the hands of the Catholic church, but they are allowed to stay and live off it as long as a Cleary is alive. The priest ordered to look after Drogheda is Ralph, who has a complicated relationship with the family, especially to Meggie.
Having loved Australia since I was 6-years-old, it is a bit surprising that I have not read this book until now. However, when i found it in a bookshelf at my parents’ house, i could not resist it. My dream was once to have a station in the Australian outback and have lots of sheep. However, even though my romanticized version of life in the Australian outback (which I am sure I share with many) is helped along with this book, I also know that it is a harsh reality for many. Even though this book depicts the life of people in the outback quite well and realistically, Drogheda is still a bubble that only exists in an imaginary world. And I am sure it has lured many people to travel Down Under to experience that life. I know it made me miss the country I saw as my home for a year. The setting gets under my skin the same way as the red dust of the land seemed to permanently stick to my shoes.
Now, this epic family saga is definitely worth a read, but back to the beginning and me possibly being responsible for the demise of two famous authors. I know it probably is not my fault, but it made me realize something. Both Marquez and McCullough left something really special behind. They wrote these incredible books that, to this day and many years forwards, will be read and loved by people of different nationalities and walks of life. They left a legacy. They may be gone, but their words are still very much alive and that is one of the wonderful things about books. They are little capsules holding a piece of the writer’s soul alive for as long as there are books and people read. So, instead of feeling like it was due to me reading their books that they died, maybe I should look at it all from a different perspective. Maybe I was with them in those last moments through the words they had strung together years before.