BookBrowse Reviews South of Broad by Pat Conroy

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

South of Broad

by Pat Conroy

South of Broad by Pat Conroy X
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2009, 528 pages
    May 2010, 544 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book



The beloved Pat Conroy returns with his first novel in 14 years

The first novel in fourteen years from beloved writer Pat Conroy (Beach Music, Prince of Tides) evoked passionate responses from our members. With 20 out of 23 rating it 4 or 5 stars, nearly all of them found the book well worth the wait, but even the fans had some criticisms.

Some of our readers loved it without reservation:
With South of Broad, an ode to the beauty of Charleston and the joys and sorrows of friendship, Pat Conroy pulled me into his imagined world from page one. It's not the first time this has happened and I hope it won't be the last (Mary Lee P). Being a southerner myself and very familiar with Charleston, I could see each street and house and walled garden as it was being described. I have also spent many days in San Francisco so I could picture the rundown neighborhoods and the mansion on the coast. For those of you not familiar with these cities, Mr. Conroy has masterfully painted a magical picture for you to treasure. I could not put this book down once I picked it up, and as soon as I finish passing it around to all my friends, I plan on reading it again (Rebecca C).

In this wonderfully written account of a white, middle class, teenage boy growing up in the south during the tumultuous 60s, Leo King 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 (Teresa C). While following the group's adventures and misadventures from childhood to adulthood, anyone fortunate enough to have good friends (especially if they've married one) will be reminded of those relationships while reading Leo’s life story. South of Broad has enough ambiguities and unanticipated surprises to satisfy a mystery-lover. The book is also an excellent window into the 1960s, 70s and 80s, when racial tension was high, the rules of right and wrong seemed to be changing, and sex turned deadly (Peg M).

but others were disappointed:
I have been an ardent fan of Mr. Conroy and waited impatiently these last 14 years for another novel after Beach Music. I was ecstatic to see that South of Broad was 500+ pages and looked forward to his unique command of language and ability to spin a story that captures a reader's attention from the first sentence. I had no doubts that my 14 year wait would be rewarded with another Conroy masterpiece… sadly, I was wrong (Deborah P). I noticed a shift in his writing in his last novel, Beach Music. I felt he was caving in to the pressures of popular fiction by adding superfluous intrigue into the story. Unfortunately, South of Broad is more of the same. The novel is overwritten and has a contrived and predictable plot (Brooke). 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 entire group faced so much drama that the novel was reminiscent of a soap opera (Sandra G).

So what's the bottom line?
South of Broad will offer true Conroy fans 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… While the plot can be a little contrived and the dialogue occasionally too cute, it's 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 (Fred V).

This review was originally published in September 2009, and has been updated for the May 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Anatomy of a Miracle
    by Jonathan Miles

    A stunning novel that offers an exploration of faith, science and the meaning of life.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.