Monday, March 10, 2008

The Touch - Colleen McCullough

Rating 3 Don’t bet on this one…wait for the movie (···)
Pages: 624
Challenges: 2008 TBR, Chunkster, A-Z Challenge: M Author

Synopsis (from B&
Not since The Thorn Birds has Colleen McCullough written a novel of such broad appeal about a family and the Australian experience as The Touch.
At its center is Alexander Kinross, remembered as a young man in his native Scotland only as a shiftless boilermaker's apprentice and a godless rebel. But when, years later, he writes from Australia to summon his bride, his Scottish relatives quickly realize that he has made a fortune in the gold fields and is now a man to be reckoned with.

Arriving in Sydney after a difficult voyage, the sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Drummond meets her husband-to-be and discovers to her dismay that he frightens and repels her. Offered no choice, she marries him and is whisked at once across a wild, uninhabited countryside to Alexander's own town, named Kinross after himself. In the crags above it lies the world's richest gold mine.
Isolated in Alexander's great house, with no company save Chinese servants, Elizabeth finds that the intimacies of marriage do not prompt her husband to enlighten her about his past life -- or even his present one. She has no idea that he still has a mistress, the sensual, tough, outspoken Ruby Costevan, whom Alexander has established in his town, nor that he has also made Ruby a partner in his company, rapidly expanding its interests far beyond gold. Ruby has a son, Lee, whose father is the head of the beleaguered Chinese community; the boy becomes dear to Alexander, who fosters his education as a gentleman.

Captured by the very different natures of Elizabeth and Ruby, Alexander resolves to have both of them. Why should he not? He has the fabled "Midas Touch" -- a combination of curiosity, boldness and intelligence that he applies to every situation, and which fails him only when it comes to these two women.

Although Ruby loves Alexander desperately, Elizabeth does not. Elizabeth bears him two daughters: the brilliant Nell, so much like her father; and the beautiful, haunting Anna, who is to present her father with a torment out of which for once he cannot buy his way. Thwarted in his desire for a son, Alexander turns to Ruby's boy as a possible heir to his empire, unaware that by keeping Lee with him, he is courting disaster.

The stories of the lives of Alexander, Elizabeth and Ruby are intermingled with those of a rich cast of characters, and, after many twists and turns, come to a stunning and shocking climax. Like The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough's new novel is at once a love story and a family saga, replete with tragedy, pathos, history and passion. As few other novelists can, she conveys a sense of place: the desperate need of her characters, men and women, rootless in a strange land, to create new beginnings.

This book was broken into 3 sections. I really enjoyed the first section and would have rated it a 4, but the book took a nose dive from there. I thought section 2 was a 2 and section 3 was a 3...for an average rating of 3. I thought that there was too much information about the details of mining and the story slowed down considerably. I did like the characters and thought they were all believable. Though I was disappointed in Elizabeth who couldn't seem to overcome her preconceived notions of her husband even if he didn't respond well in the beginning of their marriage.

This is my first Colleen McCullough book I would be interested to hear from you if you have read her books and have liked them! I am not sure I will read more of her books or not.


Anonymous said...

I loved this book, read The Thornbirds twice, saw the movie three times but would love to see The Touch done into a movie..

lucy said...

i ABSOLUTELY loved The Touch...i wanna read it again,i also read Morgan's Run by Colleen McCollough,and am dying to read The Thornbirds...i'a a big fan you see!:-)

Anonymous said...

so far, in my whole life, this is my favorite book of all time. Not only it did broaden my perspective in things like love, intimacies and marriage, but I learned that we cannot judge people because we all strive for honor, whoever we are, whatever we are...