Sheila S. (Winston-Salem, NC)
South of Broad
South of Broad is a novel by one of my favorite authors (Pat Conroy) about one of my favorite cities (Charleston). I was prepared to love it, and I did. Conroy's lyrical descriptions of Charleston (and also San Francisco) are magnificent. There are elements of chick-lit here - all of the women are beautiful and sexy, the men are all accomplished - but the beauty of the writing compensate for this. There were scenes which I found entirely unbelievable, but I did love the plot lines and especially liked the character of Leo. I thought that the San Francisco section dragged on a bit. But the ending of the book was exceptionally strong. I love Conroy's sense of humor. Here's hoping that we don't have to wait so long for his next work. He is a real treasure. I will certainly recommend this book to friends and to my book club.
Fran C. (Baltimore, OH)
Another winner from Pat Conroy
I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book. I have read all of Mr. Conroy's fiction and enjoyed the books in varying degrees.
I found the descriptions of Charleston so vivid that I felt I was there. The story itself seemed to bog down in the middle, but by the end of the book I was totally immersed in the world of Leo King and his friends.
All in all, a pleasure to read.
Marjorie H. (Bedford, TX)
The Good and Bad
Pat Conroy is a master of prose, clever turn of phrase and an amazing story teller. The South is his turf. I've read almost all of his books. South of Broad is pure Conroy. This book has it all; mystery, romance, tragedy - an excellent read. Being familiar with the Carolina coast, his descriptions of the setting is a love story in itself.
However, while the characters are mostly believable, I found a certain hollowness or one dimensional quality to many of them. At times they project a caricature effect. I was disappointed that he couldn't be more consistent in crafting what, otherwise, were interesting people.
Bottom line - as a Southerner myself, I'll always read a Pat Conroy book.
Jane (Plantation, FL)
I was really looking forward to reading this book. I loved The Great Santini, Lords of Discipline and Prince of Tides is my all-time favorite book. But South of Broad was very disappointing. In parts the writing is beautiful - classic Pat Conroy, but the dialogue particularly is awful and the rest is just ordinary.
The plot is cliched and predictable, except for the ending, which did take me by surprise, but it wasn't worth slogging through the trite plot. The misfit, unpopular boy somehow in the summer before his senior year in high school make friends with a racially and socially disparate group of friends and ends up being the social conscience of the class. .... The group of friends has a gay guy, three orphans, two blacks, three socially elite kids and the leader of the group, the misfit Leo, and practically overnight in 1969 in the South, they all manage to form friendships that last a lifetime. It's a plot Danielle Steele would be proud of.
Sandra G. (Middleton, WI)
Wanted to love this book!
Conroy's vivid descriptions and imagery really bring Charleston to life, the place he calls "the most beautiful streets in America." The setting is the book's strongest element. I was disappointed by many of the characters who struck me as either stereotypes or caricatures. The bond Leo and his friends have after twenty years is enviable, but the the entire group faced so much drama that the novel was reminiscent of a soap opera.
Fred V. (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)
Welcome back, Mr. Conroy!
South of Broad will offer the true Conroy fan many familiar elements - suicide, the look and smell of the salt marsh, athletics, deep familial scars, the south, other parts of the country as seen through the prism of the south, verbal skirmishes ... and even some James Joyce. In the story a wildly eclectic group of friends race through a fast moving plot and several "Big Chill" moments. While the plot can be a little contrived and the dialogue occasionally too cute, it is overall a good enjoyable read. Although it falls short of Prince of Tides this book shows there is life after Beach Music and gives me hope that Mr. Conroy will return to the regular creation of exceptional novels ... I for one have missed him.
Teresa C. (Pickerington, OH)
South of Broad
Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors and he did not let me down with his latest novel, South of Broad. It is a wonderfully written account of a white middle class teenage boy growing up in the south during the tumultuous 60s. He is the anchor of a racially, socially and economically diverse group of teens, all of whom are facing the challenges of coexisting in a newly segregated world. Conroy does an excellent job of recreating this time period in American history through the widely varying viewpoints of his well defined teen characters.