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The stirring saga of a man’s journey to free his sister—and himself—from a tragic family history

Tom Wingo has lost his job, and is on the verge of losing his marriage, when he learns that his twin sister, Savannah, has attempted suicide again. At the behest of Savannah’s psychiatrist, Tom reluctantly leaves his home in South Carolina to travel to New York City and aid in his sister’s therapy. As Tom’s relationship with her psychiatrist deepens, he reveals to her the turbulent history of the Wingo family, and exposes the truth behind the fateful day that changed their lives forever.   Drawing richly from Pat Conroy’s own troubled upbringing, The Prince of Tides is a sweeping and powerful story of how unlocking the past can be the secret to overcoming the darkest of personal demons.

Topics: United States of America, Family, American South, Mental Illness, Abuse, Suicide, Made into a Movie, Dysfunctional Family, Siblings, Suspenseful, Dramatic, Emotional, Tragic, Realistic, Southern Gothic, First Person Narration, New York City, and South Carolina

Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on
ISBN: 9781453204023
List price: $14.99
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This was incredible. I'm surprised at the negative reviews. Millions of people who have been abused suffer in silence, bury their feelings out of shame, and most don't ever get the help they need. The point at which the main character finally opens up and admits what happens is heart-wrenching. And, the relationship between the main character's parents is so believable.more
Pat Conroy is a master at lyrical prose that digs deep without letting go. At times it takes him awhile to get around and about but the path along the way is the reward. Its to be savored - and passages read again. This book was beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Tragic and yet there is hope.Conroy creates characters of such depth - that we totally understand and can empathize with even the most wretched of characters such as the father. And then there is the hardened mother, a survivor, who believed she was protecting her children and herself but truly wasn't - and we come to see that her "southern strength" is really her weakness. This book will haunt you. I think it speaks to the dark secrets many families carry and that no matter how tormented we are, we can forgive and overcome evils done to us to create a full life of love and contentment.more
I mostly hated this book. I hated the language and all the histrionics. At one point, I threw the book across the room. Why I finished it I'll never know - mainly I was trying to see what so many people liked about it, but I never figured that out.more
There are some books that claim to be big family saga-type stories but just.. aren't. Then there are books like East of Eden by Steinbeck and The Colour by Rose Tremain that blow the socks off the reader and remind us what sagas really are.The Prince of Tides is yet another to add to the list of mind-blowing, toe-curling sagas.From the very start of this book, where smart-mouthed Tom begins to tease his children, put down himself and attempt to flee from his own mother's phone call, this book had me hooked. The smart, wise-cracking mouth of Tom, his self-loathing, his pain was made evident in just a few short pages. And then, with the introduction of Lowenstein, the psychiatrist treating Tom's suicidal sister, Savannah, a story begins to emerge that's filled with so much heart-twisting drama, I couldn't tear myself away from the book because I had to know what happened, I had to know why a boy who adored his mother couldn't stand her any longer and why a twin sister wanted nothing to do with her twin brother.This story tore my heart out. I sat on my sofa and wept as key elements of the story were finally revealed, but it never got to be too much, because of Conroy's masterful storytelling. Just when the tension and the drama would reach that uppermost limit, just when I felt I needed to step back and compose myself, he would switch from the past, from Tom's story, to the present-day and remind me of just who Tom was again. Each time I would see a little more of the character who developed due to his past. The characters in The Prince of Tides are so incredibly dynamic and real, I hated to leave them behind. It was like leaving behind a friend, someone I'd journeyed with through amazing tension and drama and then had to say goodbye just when things were starting to look good again. I was so impressed with this novel and laugh when I think about how naive I was when I began it - thinking that it was just another hyped up book and hoping it would move quickly so I could put it down and say that I'd read it.I'll be revisiting this story again though, and I'm sure again and again. It's too powerful not to read through it more slowly the next time and savor the beauty of the writing and the exquisiteness of the story development.more
No one can quite tell a story like Pat Conroy. After reading this book, I got several of my friends to read it also. One friend stated, "That many bad things could not happen to one family." My reply was that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. I had seen the movie first, and was blown away by the book. While the movie focuses on the relationship between the main character and the psychiatrist treating his suicidal sister, the book focuses on the lives of the three siblings. Particularly the unusual and difficult raising those siblings endured. Conroy's writing is like poetry. An enthralling and terrific read!more
Twins, brother and sister, are at the center of this family saga. I read it with enjoyment and not a little admiration at the imagination that created this family. The more I learn about the author I find that some of his inspiration for this fiction was based in real-life experience. That does not detract from the enjoyment of this well-told tale.more
Great novel about two brothers and a sister raised in poverty in a violent, drunken shrimper household in Charleston NC. The girl becomes a troubled ,suicidal but successful poetess. Meanwhile the Oldest brother goes ion a crusade against the gov for wanting to move part of the town in order to built a nuclear plant there while the youngest serves his duty as the equiliabrator of the three marrying well but torn by his past, his ister's disease his borther's past actions. 'All the while being confronted by his white trash to Southern Belle ambitious , vindictive mother and an abusive alcoholic father. Great novelmore
Another one of my favorite books. I wish I could read it again for the first time.more
I love Pat Conroy's masterful use of the language. This heartbreaking story of a man's tortured relationship with his mother and the damage she inflicts on her children is filled with humor, suspense, and a deep love of coastal South Carolina. A must-read.more
Don't hold the film against the book. Rereading this I was reminded from the very first line why I loved it so much: My wound is geography. How can you not read on after a line like that one? And it's a fitting line, because the work does deal with two places as much as any human character: small town Colleton in lowcountry South Carolina and New York City--quintessential big city and its perfect foil. Tom Wingo, the narrator and protagonist must travel from where he lives in South Carolina to New York City where his sister lies in the hospital after her third suicide attempt. Their habitual greeting to each other after long separations? "What was your family life like, Savannah?" I asked, pretending I was conducting an interview."Hiroshima," she whispered."And what has life been like since you left the warm, abiding bosom of your nurturing, close-knit family?""Nagasaki," she said, a bitter smile on her face.That's fairly typical of the dialogue. Snappy, witty, with humor both hiding and expressing a lot of pain (even if sometimes a bit artificial). Tom tells Savannah's psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, their family history--to help his sister, but to help himself too. Through a great deal of flashback, we learn of the wounds inflicted on all three Wingo children, Tom, Savannah, and the lost Luke. It doesn't ever feel static though, but suspenseful, because we're engaged in the mystery rooted in the past of what damaged all of them. The central event away from the book does seem implausible, but I didn't feel that way reading it--every bit of the book is compulsively readable. The prose is often lyrical--the descriptions of lowcountry South Carolina read like prose poems. The story always engaging, its characters unforgettable--I zipped through its 679 pages. I've read and enjoyed other books by Conroy. I was assigned The Water Is Wide, his story about teaching poor kids in a one-room schoolhouse in high school, and The Lords of Discipline is a memorable mystery and portrait of a Southern military school modeled on The Citadel where Conroy went. I find Prince of Tides the most powerful and memorable of the Conroy books I've read though.more
Some wonderful writing but too much of the story seemed implausible to me. Also, as others have said, there were many plot lines just left hanging.My biggest problem with this book is that we are asked to believe that the father has instilled, through violence, a deep seated fear in his children and wife. Yet in nearly every scene the father seems to be the object of derision. This part of the story didn't work for me.more
Honestly, I do not like any other Pat Conroy books. I found most to be overblown and pretentious. Others drab and boring. But this book, quite simply is one of my best loved and most revisited.Something in the language- the descriptions, the syntax... Yes, I am using poetry terms. I can't simply convey the rhythm and quality and sheer joy of reading this book.The Language... oh dear lord, help me. *fans self* Perhaps its the damaged child in me, but I love this book. LOVE IT.more
Good novel (the movie was bad - Streisand over-acted horribly).more
Dysfunctional family-twins Tom and Savannah, older brother Luke. Savannah tries to commit suicide several times because of past events.Conroy's writing, like in South of Broad, is flowing and descriptive. His characters are real and vibrant. His descriptions of the south are loving.A great book.more
This has long been one of my go-to books for reading & re-reading when I need something well-written & familiar. Pat Conroy has a beautiful way with language & tells a good story & this book is no exception.The narrator's family & the Carolina Low Country are the stars of the show in this book as Tom Wingo tries to tell the story of their past in an effort to save his sister from her suicidal tendencies. In the end, of course, he saves himself along with her (& maybe that's the point).I love the stories of the Wingo family & the dignity & humanity that Conroy gives every member. Yes, there is tragedy & darkness, but there is also eccentricity & humor & survival & love. There is nothing simple about these people & nothing simple about their stories. The creeping & awful dread that sits in the middle of the end of these stories is palpable throughout & painful to experience & behold.I still think Tom Wingo's a wonderful storyteller & an ineffectual chickenshit - that's what makes him tragic, I suppose. I still identify with his sister, Savannah, craziness & all. & I enjoyed this book yet again. It's always good to visit old friends.more
Exquisitely told story of a southern family and the individual problems/demons within. It is a virtual painting of a landscape and community filled with flaws, beauty, and quirks. The humor, the suspenseful (& sometimes horrific) events, and family relationships make this historically brief saga a satisfying story. But it’s the southern painting that really captured me.more
Tom Wingo is a desperate soul, passing a quiet and emotionally void existence, aching for love but afraid and unable to cultivate it. Born and bred a southern boy, Tom and his siblings, a twin sister and older brother, survived an abusive father and a manipulative, cold, and domineering mother. And there are hints that the three children also suffered through some greater, more traumatic event also. This past breaks in on Tom’s adult life when his twin sister, Savannah, tries to commit suicide, again. Tom, his marriage on the brink of dissolving from inattention, leaves the safe waters of his home bound for New York City. There, he consults with Savannah’s therapist, Dr. Lowenstein, telling her the stories of their childhood, hoping to help the doctor better understand Savannah’s demons. But Tom is unable to fend off the past, and in the retelling of his childhood, he confronts the events which robbed him of his innocence and broke his spirit. Pat Conroy’s novel [The Prince of Tides] evokes Ray Bradbury or Walt Whitman, basking itself in the warmth of poetic and lyrical prose in every sentence, every page. The prologue to the book is among the best pages of written word that I have ever read, bar none. Conroy fills your senses with words, substituting just the right phrase or sentence for a sight or smell that you’d never know you weren’t experiencing it through your eyes or your nose. And while he is bathing you in the rich textures of the south and its people, he is building, ever building, towards a moment when he will prick your heart with excruciating and vivid emotions. Sometimes the emotion is the anger and desperation of a middle-aged man, living a marginal, unimportant life. Other times, Conroy assaults you with the visceral love and hate that only a parent or sibling can inspire. The combination of such eloquent prose and raw emotion makes for a riveting reading experience.Early on, this one was bound for a five bone rating and a spot on my list of favorites for the year. What kept it from reaching that mark was a quickly turned ending. So much time is spent sifting through the lives of the Wingo family, setting the scene for the climatic event. None of this is wasted time. I never tired of getting to know the Wingo’s, not even at the height of their dysfunction. I always set down to read, eager to learn more about this unusual family; it was a little like going to a family reunion for someone else’s family. But after the big secret is uncovered, Conroy seems to rush to the end, desperately searching out a conclusion for the book and the characters. It all ended a little abruptly and a little rosy, given the starting point. This is a minor criticism really. Lesser books could get away with the ending because the ending wouldn’t suffer in comparison with the rest of the book. But Conroy’s ending doesn’t live up to the extremely high standards he sets for himself.more
This is one of my all time favorite books. Pat Conroy is such a skilled writer that he takes a plot that on the face of it is completely implausible and makes it so incredibly real and believable. Conroy tells a story of love and tragedy, injury and healing, and ultimately redemption. His characters are deeply human and flawed and yet they are heroic in their own ways. This book practically vibrates it is so alive and beautiful.more
Jimmy Buffett wrote a song called the "Prince of Tides" where he recites a quote from the book. At the time I did not know there was a book by this name and it took the movie comming out for me to realize the connection. I saw the movie and then read the book. I really liked the book. The tension in the family and with Lowenstien was very real. I loved the characters and the way Conroy tells the story.I have read the book twice an excellent read.more
Compelling story with extraordinary evocations of place and character. A quintessential good read!more
Great book, very involving, full of emotions...and a great film by Streisand, who was robbed of an Oscar.more
This is the second novel I've read by Pat Conroy (the first being Beach Music), and my feelings on his work are complicated. I was originally planning to break my thoughts down into "The Good" vs. "The Bad," but I can't even do that because they're inextricably entwined. So I guess I'll just have to go free-form and do the best I can.A quote on the back of my copy of the novel says that it is "COMPULSIVELY READABLE" (from no less a source than Glamour magazine, mind you), and I found that to be true...although I couldn't for the life of me provide a credible explanation as to why that was the case. The plot, when stripped to its core, is laughably unbelievable and lame: a South Carolina cracker and an uppity New York psychiatrist, each loathing everything the other stands for, fall in love. There's a whole lot more to the story, but as that's where it begins and ends and everything else seems to exist mainly to set it up, that seems like the main point. I think it would have been a stronger novel if Conroy had excised that portion of it and just told the story of the Wingo family without framing it in the story of Tom and Susan.One thing you know unequivocally that you're going to get from Conroy is elegant, sumptuous, nearly breathtaking prose. The man has an obvious talent for seeing things in a certain way, and then putting them down in a way you've never thought of before but recognize immediately. He's worth reading for that if nothing else. The words he puts into the mouths of his characters, on the other hand...as amazing as his powers of observation seem to be, he has very little feel for the way real people speak to each other. I will say, though, that it wasn't as bad in The Prince of Tides as it was in Beach Music. Which is interesting, since Beach Music came later - you'd think he would have gotten better instead of worse.Dialogue aside, I didn't find any of the characters in this book likable or even particularly believable. Well, that's not wholly true - I liked the Wingo siblings as kids. As adults, they evolved into nutjobs and douchebags, and I thought there was, for the most part, a real disconnect from their characters as kids and as adults. Even given the things that had happened to them, I just didn't see those kids becoming those adults. For example, Tom, the narrator and main character, seems (sometimes - it's not particularly consistent) to be something of a weak child, but he's a man of action (albeit prickish, sometimes ineffectual action) as an adult. And one recurring theme is how afraid the kids were of their father, but most of the scenes don't indicate fear - the kids seemed almost eager to provoke him, and he's almost a nonentity to his wife, despite how brutal he supposedly is to her. There are some scenes which actually do portray him as abusive, so it's not as though I don't believe that he was...Conroy just didn't make me believe that it really had an effect on the kids, or at least the effect Tom tried so hard to convey that it had.Even with the problems of dialogue and consistency, Conroy somehow makes the characters interesting, and even manages to hit a few notes of beauty. One thing I think he probably absolutely nailed was the bond between the Wingo kids. I didn't grow up with my own siblings, so I can't speak from personal experience, but their closeness really did ring true to me. It might seem strange after what I've had to say so far, but I do think Conroy has a certain feel for his characters, and how they relate to each other (if not the actual words they would use). I think the problem may lie in the fact that sometimes he needs them to act a certain way in order to advance the plot, and that's not really the way that character would truly act. I don't know about his writing method, so I could easily be wrong about that, but that how it seems to me.I also had a problem with a couple of plot points that didn't really seem to go anywhere. At one point there's an albino porpoise that their father sells into captivity, and the kids go steal it back, and we never see how their father reacted, if at all. Then there's a big buildup to Tom having dinner with his mother and stepfather, whom he hates, and the identity of the stepfather is supposed to be a surprise (even though it's not). Conroy shows Tom in the restaurant, shaking hands and apologizing to his stepfather, who I'd probably go so far as to call the #2 "villain" in the book, and that's it. I just don't get it.And that's another thing I just don't like or get about either Conroy book I've read. So much of the book is spent on making these characters out to be responsible for all this harm, and then in the end they're turned into sympathetic characters, forgiven and loved by those they harmed (in this book it's Henry and Lila Wingo and Reese Newbury; in Beach Music it's the McCall parents, plus General Elliot). I have nothing against character redemption - far from it - but I need to see a reason for it. In Conroy's work, I don't. The main characters just put their terrible experiences behind them and everyone lives happily ever after.So, bottom line: it's highly readable. It's often beautiful. It's definitely interesting. Is it good? Personally, I'd say no. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's bad, but it's flawed. I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it who was inclined to do so, although I'd be very interested to compare notes when they finished. And I know that other reviews are mostly positive, so I'm aware that I'm in the minority here. I'll probably try to check out the movie at some point soon, to see how it compares and if it softens or changes any of my opinions. And I'm sure I'll read more by Conroy before it's all said and done. His prose is worth it, even if the story itself is not.more
A very painful reading but absolutely worthwhile. I love and hate the story at the same time, but when it was finished I couldn't stop thinking about it.more
I enjoyed it, although he tends to go off on a tangent at times and diverts from the story - but that only adds the anticipation of the big "reveal" at the end.more
This book was read on the recommendation of my friend, Chuck Owen. It is a great piece of Southern fiction. I like Conroy's style of creating an edge between sons and fathers. I also enjoyed the movie.more
this is a modern dickinsonian novel, and one is damaged by seeing the movie first. There is sooo much more in the book, but you have tasted the heavy nectar of the Hollywood Gods and you await such-and-such a scene. Drags some. But if I had the sense of a drunken goose I'd have read the book first, as from now on I shall do. Marvelous control of theme, plot, and words. A teaching novel.more
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Reviews

This was incredible. I'm surprised at the negative reviews. Millions of people who have been abused suffer in silence, bury their feelings out of shame, and most don't ever get the help they need. The point at which the main character finally opens up and admits what happens is heart-wrenching. And, the relationship between the main character's parents is so believable.more
Pat Conroy is a master at lyrical prose that digs deep without letting go. At times it takes him awhile to get around and about but the path along the way is the reward. Its to be savored - and passages read again. This book was beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Tragic and yet there is hope.Conroy creates characters of such depth - that we totally understand and can empathize with even the most wretched of characters such as the father. And then there is the hardened mother, a survivor, who believed she was protecting her children and herself but truly wasn't - and we come to see that her "southern strength" is really her weakness. This book will haunt you. I think it speaks to the dark secrets many families carry and that no matter how tormented we are, we can forgive and overcome evils done to us to create a full life of love and contentment.more
I mostly hated this book. I hated the language and all the histrionics. At one point, I threw the book across the room. Why I finished it I'll never know - mainly I was trying to see what so many people liked about it, but I never figured that out.more
There are some books that claim to be big family saga-type stories but just.. aren't. Then there are books like East of Eden by Steinbeck and The Colour by Rose Tremain that blow the socks off the reader and remind us what sagas really are.The Prince of Tides is yet another to add to the list of mind-blowing, toe-curling sagas.From the very start of this book, where smart-mouthed Tom begins to tease his children, put down himself and attempt to flee from his own mother's phone call, this book had me hooked. The smart, wise-cracking mouth of Tom, his self-loathing, his pain was made evident in just a few short pages. And then, with the introduction of Lowenstein, the psychiatrist treating Tom's suicidal sister, Savannah, a story begins to emerge that's filled with so much heart-twisting drama, I couldn't tear myself away from the book because I had to know what happened, I had to know why a boy who adored his mother couldn't stand her any longer and why a twin sister wanted nothing to do with her twin brother.This story tore my heart out. I sat on my sofa and wept as key elements of the story were finally revealed, but it never got to be too much, because of Conroy's masterful storytelling. Just when the tension and the drama would reach that uppermost limit, just when I felt I needed to step back and compose myself, he would switch from the past, from Tom's story, to the present-day and remind me of just who Tom was again. Each time I would see a little more of the character who developed due to his past. The characters in The Prince of Tides are so incredibly dynamic and real, I hated to leave them behind. It was like leaving behind a friend, someone I'd journeyed with through amazing tension and drama and then had to say goodbye just when things were starting to look good again. I was so impressed with this novel and laugh when I think about how naive I was when I began it - thinking that it was just another hyped up book and hoping it would move quickly so I could put it down and say that I'd read it.I'll be revisiting this story again though, and I'm sure again and again. It's too powerful not to read through it more slowly the next time and savor the beauty of the writing and the exquisiteness of the story development.more
No one can quite tell a story like Pat Conroy. After reading this book, I got several of my friends to read it also. One friend stated, "That many bad things could not happen to one family." My reply was that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. I had seen the movie first, and was blown away by the book. While the movie focuses on the relationship between the main character and the psychiatrist treating his suicidal sister, the book focuses on the lives of the three siblings. Particularly the unusual and difficult raising those siblings endured. Conroy's writing is like poetry. An enthralling and terrific read!more
Twins, brother and sister, are at the center of this family saga. I read it with enjoyment and not a little admiration at the imagination that created this family. The more I learn about the author I find that some of his inspiration for this fiction was based in real-life experience. That does not detract from the enjoyment of this well-told tale.more
Great novel about two brothers and a sister raised in poverty in a violent, drunken shrimper household in Charleston NC. The girl becomes a troubled ,suicidal but successful poetess. Meanwhile the Oldest brother goes ion a crusade against the gov for wanting to move part of the town in order to built a nuclear plant there while the youngest serves his duty as the equiliabrator of the three marrying well but torn by his past, his ister's disease his borther's past actions. 'All the while being confronted by his white trash to Southern Belle ambitious , vindictive mother and an abusive alcoholic father. Great novelmore
Another one of my favorite books. I wish I could read it again for the first time.more
I love Pat Conroy's masterful use of the language. This heartbreaking story of a man's tortured relationship with his mother and the damage she inflicts on her children is filled with humor, suspense, and a deep love of coastal South Carolina. A must-read.more
Don't hold the film against the book. Rereading this I was reminded from the very first line why I loved it so much: My wound is geography. How can you not read on after a line like that one? And it's a fitting line, because the work does deal with two places as much as any human character: small town Colleton in lowcountry South Carolina and New York City--quintessential big city and its perfect foil. Tom Wingo, the narrator and protagonist must travel from where he lives in South Carolina to New York City where his sister lies in the hospital after her third suicide attempt. Their habitual greeting to each other after long separations? "What was your family life like, Savannah?" I asked, pretending I was conducting an interview."Hiroshima," she whispered."And what has life been like since you left the warm, abiding bosom of your nurturing, close-knit family?""Nagasaki," she said, a bitter smile on her face.That's fairly typical of the dialogue. Snappy, witty, with humor both hiding and expressing a lot of pain (even if sometimes a bit artificial). Tom tells Savannah's psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, their family history--to help his sister, but to help himself too. Through a great deal of flashback, we learn of the wounds inflicted on all three Wingo children, Tom, Savannah, and the lost Luke. It doesn't ever feel static though, but suspenseful, because we're engaged in the mystery rooted in the past of what damaged all of them. The central event away from the book does seem implausible, but I didn't feel that way reading it--every bit of the book is compulsively readable. The prose is often lyrical--the descriptions of lowcountry South Carolina read like prose poems. The story always engaging, its characters unforgettable--I zipped through its 679 pages. I've read and enjoyed other books by Conroy. I was assigned The Water Is Wide, his story about teaching poor kids in a one-room schoolhouse in high school, and The Lords of Discipline is a memorable mystery and portrait of a Southern military school modeled on The Citadel where Conroy went. I find Prince of Tides the most powerful and memorable of the Conroy books I've read though.more
Some wonderful writing but too much of the story seemed implausible to me. Also, as others have said, there were many plot lines just left hanging.My biggest problem with this book is that we are asked to believe that the father has instilled, through violence, a deep seated fear in his children and wife. Yet in nearly every scene the father seems to be the object of derision. This part of the story didn't work for me.more
Honestly, I do not like any other Pat Conroy books. I found most to be overblown and pretentious. Others drab and boring. But this book, quite simply is one of my best loved and most revisited.Something in the language- the descriptions, the syntax... Yes, I am using poetry terms. I can't simply convey the rhythm and quality and sheer joy of reading this book.The Language... oh dear lord, help me. *fans self* Perhaps its the damaged child in me, but I love this book. LOVE IT.more
Good novel (the movie was bad - Streisand over-acted horribly).more
Dysfunctional family-twins Tom and Savannah, older brother Luke. Savannah tries to commit suicide several times because of past events.Conroy's writing, like in South of Broad, is flowing and descriptive. His characters are real and vibrant. His descriptions of the south are loving.A great book.more
This has long been one of my go-to books for reading & re-reading when I need something well-written & familiar. Pat Conroy has a beautiful way with language & tells a good story & this book is no exception.The narrator's family & the Carolina Low Country are the stars of the show in this book as Tom Wingo tries to tell the story of their past in an effort to save his sister from her suicidal tendencies. In the end, of course, he saves himself along with her (& maybe that's the point).I love the stories of the Wingo family & the dignity & humanity that Conroy gives every member. Yes, there is tragedy & darkness, but there is also eccentricity & humor & survival & love. There is nothing simple about these people & nothing simple about their stories. The creeping & awful dread that sits in the middle of the end of these stories is palpable throughout & painful to experience & behold.I still think Tom Wingo's a wonderful storyteller & an ineffectual chickenshit - that's what makes him tragic, I suppose. I still identify with his sister, Savannah, craziness & all. & I enjoyed this book yet again. It's always good to visit old friends.more
Exquisitely told story of a southern family and the individual problems/demons within. It is a virtual painting of a landscape and community filled with flaws, beauty, and quirks. The humor, the suspenseful (& sometimes horrific) events, and family relationships make this historically brief saga a satisfying story. But it’s the southern painting that really captured me.more
Tom Wingo is a desperate soul, passing a quiet and emotionally void existence, aching for love but afraid and unable to cultivate it. Born and bred a southern boy, Tom and his siblings, a twin sister and older brother, survived an abusive father and a manipulative, cold, and domineering mother. And there are hints that the three children also suffered through some greater, more traumatic event also. This past breaks in on Tom’s adult life when his twin sister, Savannah, tries to commit suicide, again. Tom, his marriage on the brink of dissolving from inattention, leaves the safe waters of his home bound for New York City. There, he consults with Savannah’s therapist, Dr. Lowenstein, telling her the stories of their childhood, hoping to help the doctor better understand Savannah’s demons. But Tom is unable to fend off the past, and in the retelling of his childhood, he confronts the events which robbed him of his innocence and broke his spirit. Pat Conroy’s novel [The Prince of Tides] evokes Ray Bradbury or Walt Whitman, basking itself in the warmth of poetic and lyrical prose in every sentence, every page. The prologue to the book is among the best pages of written word that I have ever read, bar none. Conroy fills your senses with words, substituting just the right phrase or sentence for a sight or smell that you’d never know you weren’t experiencing it through your eyes or your nose. And while he is bathing you in the rich textures of the south and its people, he is building, ever building, towards a moment when he will prick your heart with excruciating and vivid emotions. Sometimes the emotion is the anger and desperation of a middle-aged man, living a marginal, unimportant life. Other times, Conroy assaults you with the visceral love and hate that only a parent or sibling can inspire. The combination of such eloquent prose and raw emotion makes for a riveting reading experience.Early on, this one was bound for a five bone rating and a spot on my list of favorites for the year. What kept it from reaching that mark was a quickly turned ending. So much time is spent sifting through the lives of the Wingo family, setting the scene for the climatic event. None of this is wasted time. I never tired of getting to know the Wingo’s, not even at the height of their dysfunction. I always set down to read, eager to learn more about this unusual family; it was a little like going to a family reunion for someone else’s family. But after the big secret is uncovered, Conroy seems to rush to the end, desperately searching out a conclusion for the book and the characters. It all ended a little abruptly and a little rosy, given the starting point. This is a minor criticism really. Lesser books could get away with the ending because the ending wouldn’t suffer in comparison with the rest of the book. But Conroy’s ending doesn’t live up to the extremely high standards he sets for himself.more
This is one of my all time favorite books. Pat Conroy is such a skilled writer that he takes a plot that on the face of it is completely implausible and makes it so incredibly real and believable. Conroy tells a story of love and tragedy, injury and healing, and ultimately redemption. His characters are deeply human and flawed and yet they are heroic in their own ways. This book practically vibrates it is so alive and beautiful.more
Jimmy Buffett wrote a song called the "Prince of Tides" where he recites a quote from the book. At the time I did not know there was a book by this name and it took the movie comming out for me to realize the connection. I saw the movie and then read the book. I really liked the book. The tension in the family and with Lowenstien was very real. I loved the characters and the way Conroy tells the story.I have read the book twice an excellent read.more
Compelling story with extraordinary evocations of place and character. A quintessential good read!more
Great book, very involving, full of emotions...and a great film by Streisand, who was robbed of an Oscar.more
This is the second novel I've read by Pat Conroy (the first being Beach Music), and my feelings on his work are complicated. I was originally planning to break my thoughts down into "The Good" vs. "The Bad," but I can't even do that because they're inextricably entwined. So I guess I'll just have to go free-form and do the best I can.A quote on the back of my copy of the novel says that it is "COMPULSIVELY READABLE" (from no less a source than Glamour magazine, mind you), and I found that to be true...although I couldn't for the life of me provide a credible explanation as to why that was the case. The plot, when stripped to its core, is laughably unbelievable and lame: a South Carolina cracker and an uppity New York psychiatrist, each loathing everything the other stands for, fall in love. There's a whole lot more to the story, but as that's where it begins and ends and everything else seems to exist mainly to set it up, that seems like the main point. I think it would have been a stronger novel if Conroy had excised that portion of it and just told the story of the Wingo family without framing it in the story of Tom and Susan.One thing you know unequivocally that you're going to get from Conroy is elegant, sumptuous, nearly breathtaking prose. The man has an obvious talent for seeing things in a certain way, and then putting them down in a way you've never thought of before but recognize immediately. He's worth reading for that if nothing else. The words he puts into the mouths of his characters, on the other hand...as amazing as his powers of observation seem to be, he has very little feel for the way real people speak to each other. I will say, though, that it wasn't as bad in The Prince of Tides as it was in Beach Music. Which is interesting, since Beach Music came later - you'd think he would have gotten better instead of worse.Dialogue aside, I didn't find any of the characters in this book likable or even particularly believable. Well, that's not wholly true - I liked the Wingo siblings as kids. As adults, they evolved into nutjobs and douchebags, and I thought there was, for the most part, a real disconnect from their characters as kids and as adults. Even given the things that had happened to them, I just didn't see those kids becoming those adults. For example, Tom, the narrator and main character, seems (sometimes - it's not particularly consistent) to be something of a weak child, but he's a man of action (albeit prickish, sometimes ineffectual action) as an adult. And one recurring theme is how afraid the kids were of their father, but most of the scenes don't indicate fear - the kids seemed almost eager to provoke him, and he's almost a nonentity to his wife, despite how brutal he supposedly is to her. There are some scenes which actually do portray him as abusive, so it's not as though I don't believe that he was...Conroy just didn't make me believe that it really had an effect on the kids, or at least the effect Tom tried so hard to convey that it had.Even with the problems of dialogue and consistency, Conroy somehow makes the characters interesting, and even manages to hit a few notes of beauty. One thing I think he probably absolutely nailed was the bond between the Wingo kids. I didn't grow up with my own siblings, so I can't speak from personal experience, but their closeness really did ring true to me. It might seem strange after what I've had to say so far, but I do think Conroy has a certain feel for his characters, and how they relate to each other (if not the actual words they would use). I think the problem may lie in the fact that sometimes he needs them to act a certain way in order to advance the plot, and that's not really the way that character would truly act. I don't know about his writing method, so I could easily be wrong about that, but that how it seems to me.I also had a problem with a couple of plot points that didn't really seem to go anywhere. At one point there's an albino porpoise that their father sells into captivity, and the kids go steal it back, and we never see how their father reacted, if at all. Then there's a big buildup to Tom having dinner with his mother and stepfather, whom he hates, and the identity of the stepfather is supposed to be a surprise (even though it's not). Conroy shows Tom in the restaurant, shaking hands and apologizing to his stepfather, who I'd probably go so far as to call the #2 "villain" in the book, and that's it. I just don't get it.And that's another thing I just don't like or get about either Conroy book I've read. So much of the book is spent on making these characters out to be responsible for all this harm, and then in the end they're turned into sympathetic characters, forgiven and loved by those they harmed (in this book it's Henry and Lila Wingo and Reese Newbury; in Beach Music it's the McCall parents, plus General Elliot). I have nothing against character redemption - far from it - but I need to see a reason for it. In Conroy's work, I don't. The main characters just put their terrible experiences behind them and everyone lives happily ever after.So, bottom line: it's highly readable. It's often beautiful. It's definitely interesting. Is it good? Personally, I'd say no. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's bad, but it's flawed. I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it who was inclined to do so, although I'd be very interested to compare notes when they finished. And I know that other reviews are mostly positive, so I'm aware that I'm in the minority here. I'll probably try to check out the movie at some point soon, to see how it compares and if it softens or changes any of my opinions. And I'm sure I'll read more by Conroy before it's all said and done. His prose is worth it, even if the story itself is not.more
A very painful reading but absolutely worthwhile. I love and hate the story at the same time, but when it was finished I couldn't stop thinking about it.more
I enjoyed it, although he tends to go off on a tangent at times and diverts from the story - but that only adds the anticipation of the big "reveal" at the end.more
This book was read on the recommendation of my friend, Chuck Owen. It is a great piece of Southern fiction. I like Conroy's style of creating an edge between sons and fathers. I also enjoyed the movie.more
this is a modern dickinsonian novel, and one is damaged by seeing the movie first. There is sooo much more in the book, but you have tasted the heavy nectar of the Hollywood Gods and you await such-and-such a scene. Drags some. But if I had the sense of a drunken goose I'd have read the book first, as from now on I shall do. Marvelous control of theme, plot, and words. A teaching novel.more
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