I don't know if The Thornbirds is the best-selling Australian novel ever, but it has sold over 10 million copies since its release. To quote the Boston Globe "the kind of book the word 'blockbuster' was made for." Not only did the book do well, but the 1983 mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain went down in TV history as the second most watched. Roots is the only one that topped it.
I figure the author, Colleen McCullough's background played a huge part in her success. It always helps to write what you know. McCullough did. Here are some tidbits I've gathered: McCullough's mother, a spunky New Zealander transported to Australia came from partial-Maori stock. Sound familiar? The Cleary family's roots were in New Zealand, they moved to New South Wales (where by the way, McCullough was spawned.) SPOILER ALERT: Frank, the oldest son, finds out his father was of Maori descent. Justine preferred living in London to Australia. McCullough spent some time in London when younger. Okay, maybe there aren't huge overlaps with McCullough's own life, but I respect author's who write what they know and have experienced.
Speaking of spunky gals like Colleen's mom or Meggie Cleary or Justine Cleary, for that matter, Colleen has kept busy in her own life. Authorship of a best-seller isn't the only entry on her resume. Add neuropathologist with a stint at Yale as well as being one of the few residents allowed on Norfolk Island. Yeah, that doesn't sound like a very long resume, but you try to find some real information on this lady! Amazon's author bio is all of 4 sentences and that is longer than her Simon & Schuster bio. Wikipedia's entry is longer but I suspect it isn't current. Well, if McCullough wants some seclusion, I can't blame her. Who would want autograph seekers or celebrity hounds interrupting this view?
I don't suppose a camera-toting autograph seeker would look picturesque to her next to this Norfolk pine either.
One thing I did find out is that McCullough discovered love in Ric Robinson. He came to, well, you can read about it yourself in this People magazine article. Kinda cool, huh?
I enjoyed my tour of the Outback through The Thornbirds as well as reading about its author. Australia is going to be one of my travel hotspots this year, so I will blogging more about what I unearth there.