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I grabbed this book in an airport on the way to somewhere a couple of decades ago. I had never read Conroy at that point, and what a find it was! I'd read a few pages, then pause and say, "This guy can really write!" It ended up being one of my all-time favorite books. I have reread it a number of times. It deals with some painful issues, including child abuse, but is written from the point of view of innocence.
Pat Conroy is one of the finest writers of the last 60 years. Similiar themes run throughout some of this novels. Others are vastly. But all draw on his native North Carolina, it's Low Country, and the people there.
This is undoubtedly his most accomplished work (maybe Lords of Discipline gives this one a run for its money). A unusual, gifted mother, an absent and abusive father, a suicidal sister and older brother make up the family.
While attending to his hospitalized sister in NY, our hero begins meeting with her therapist, ostensibly to provide family background. In the process, a hideous family secret comes to the fore. But this is not a mystery, nor a blood-sucking novel. It's the journey of a close family through perilous times - and the journey of a deeply troubled man.
The story aside, Conroy's writing will lift you from your chair and softly deposit you on the gentle shores of the marshes. His prose awakens your nose to the smells of bogs and rotting fishheads. The stars in the sky are no longer specks of light; we pulse with them and wink mischievously at dolphins and humans.
THIS is the book to order if you want to be carried away on the words of a gifted writer. (Except for the plot summary, this review covers all his writings.)
An outstanding novel by a truly gifted writer. One my favorite novels of all time. It's the kind of book you recommend to friends, even those who don't read. It is much better and deeper than the movie. Pat Conroy at times would include Mark Twain-like situations that are very funny.
Read the first two sentences: "My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call." Conroy was a terrific word smith. This is a book you will want to savor like fine wine.
A must read for Conroy fans. More subtle than Lords of Discipline and the Great Santinin in its layers of meaning. Fast paced. Great film version also available starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. Just forgive Streisand the manicure.
I have posted this book with the exact ISBN number listed above (0-395-35300-9), and it is a larger paperback (6" wide and 9" tall) and is not a hardback as the PaperbackSwap.com system shows it. The artwork on the cover of this paperback is identical to that shown above.
For sheer storytelling finesse, Conroy will have few rivals this season. His fourth novel is a seductive narrative, told with bravado flourishes, portentous foreshadowing, sardonic humor and eloquent turns of phrase. Like The Great Santini, it is the story of a destructive family relationship wherein a violent father abuses his wife and children. Henry Wingo is a shrimper who fishes the seas off the South Carolina coast and regularly squanders what little money he amasses in farcical business schemes; his beautiful wife, Lila, is both his victim and a manipulative and guilt-inflicting mother. The story is narrated by one of the children, Tom Wingo, a former high school teacher and coach, now out of work after a nervous breakdown. Tom alternately recalls his growing-up years on isolated Melrose Island, then switches to the present in Manhattan, where his twin sister and renowned poet, Savannah, is recovering from a suicide attempt. One secret at the heart of this tale is the fate of their older brother Luke; we know he is dead, but the circumstances are slowly revealed. Also kept veiled is "what happened on the island that day"a grisly scene of horror, rape and carnage that eventually explains much of the sorrow, pain and emotional alienation endured by the Wingo siblings. Conroy deftly manages a large cast of characters and a convoluted plot, although he dangerously undermines credibility through a device by which Tom tells the Wingo family saga to Savannah's psychiatrist. Some readers may find here a pale replica of Robert Penn Warren's powerful evocation of the Southern myth; others may see resemblances to John Irving's baroque imaginings. Most, however, will be swept along by Conroy's felicitous, often poetic prose, his ironic comments on the nature of man and society, his passion for the marshland country of the South and his skill with narrative. 250,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; movie rights to United Artists; BOMC main selection; author tour.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition
Pat Conroy is such an artist with the English language. This is a book that you will love. It is filled with a very dysfunctional family, which will cause you to laugh and cringe, to feel their pain and to understand their survival techniques.
Since I loved the movie so much, I could hardly imagine that the book could be any better, but it truly was MUCH more powerful, descriptive and vivid than the movie. Faulted, but powerful characters, beautiful writing and wildly dysfunctional scenes and situations make for a truly mesmerizing story. Wholeheartedly recommend this book.