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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.
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.
South of Broad
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.
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.
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.