Wednesday, October 28, 2009

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

From the author's website: Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades — from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

What a wonderful book! Pat Conroy lives just a few islands over from me here in the Carolina Lowcountry and he captures the feel of this place better than anyone else. He does it especially well in this one - gorgeous prose as he describes the scenes. This is my favorite kind of Pat Conroy book - rooted in the Lowcountry and the relationships that are formed here by birth, by race, by class - he explores them all. There are discussions all around town about who each character might be in real life but because Conroy always manages to root out each character's worst flaws, I'm not sure anyone wants to own up to being included. All I know is that one of my husband's extended family members is an ex-nun who was an educator and married to a teacher...hmmmm.


Beth F said...

I've had this one on my wish list -- so glad it works and captures the local flavor.

bermudaonion said...

I actually heard Pat Conroy discuss this book on NPR and I've wanted to read it ever since. I just love his work and I'm so glad to see this book lives up to the rest of his work.

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