South of Broad- Pat Conroy
From the Publisher
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 friends 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.
The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book, since I've never read a Pat Conroy book, but I'm glad this one was my first experience into Pat Conroy's world. He writes such beautiful prose, and is really a master storyteller.
From the beginning I wanted to know these characters fully, and experience the journey they were about to take. The characters in this novel were unique, and exaggerated, to the point of unreal sometimes, but I appreciated, and adored them anyways. The book is dark, but underneath the exterior of the story, you can feel the bond, and love the characters had for each other, and it shined a light through the tragedy of their lives.
The book takes place in Charleston, and is it's own character. Every description is dripping with Pat Conroy's adoration of Charleston. It really is beautiful the way he describes the scenery, the people, and the social aspects of the South.
South of Broad is a sad story, with doses of loveliness. If you are looking for happy endings, look elsewhere, if you're looking for a great story, with wonderful witty banter, and lives that are messy, tragic, and real, pick this one up.
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese (August 11, 2009)