South of Broad
By Pat Conroy
(Nan A. Talese, Hardcover, 9780385413053, 528pp.)
Publication Date: August 11, 2009
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The publishing event of the season: The one and only Pat Conroy returns, with a big, sprawling novel that is at once a love letter to Charleston and to lifelong friendship.
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.
PAT CONROY is the bestselling author of The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, and My Losing Season. He lives in South Carolina.
1. At the beginning of the novel, Leo is called on to mitigate the racial prejudice of the football team. What other types of prejudice appear in the novel? Which characters are guilty of relying on preconceived notions? Why do you think Leo is so accepting of most people? Why is his mother so condemnatory?
Praise for South of Broad
"Conroy is an immensely gifted stylist…. No one can describe a tide or a sunset with his lyricism and exactitude."—Chris Bohjalian, The Washington Post
"Conroy writes with a momentum that's impossible to resist."—People, 3 of 4 stars.
"Beautifully written throughout…. Conroy is a natural at weaving great skeins of narrative, and this one will prove a great pleasure to his many fans."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Conroy is a master of American fiction and he has proved it once again in this magnificent love letter to his beloved Charleston, and to friendships that will stand the test of time."—Bookpage
Praise for Beach Music
"Astonishing . . . stunning . . . the range of passions and subjects that brings life to every page is almost endless." —Washington Post Book World
"Blockbuster writing at its best." —Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Pat Conroy's writing contains a virtue now rare in most contemporary fiction: passion." —Denver Post
"Reading Pat Conroy is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel." —Houston Chronicle
"Incandescent." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Grand." —Boston Globe
"Lyrical . . . evocative . . . Beach Music is one from the heart, and it beats with a vibrancy that cannot be denied." —Hartford Courant
"Breathtaking . . . perhaps the most eagerly awaited book of the year . . . a knockout." —Charlotte Observer
"Beach Music attains an almost ethereal beauty." —Miami Herald
"Few novelists write as well, and none as beautifully . . . Conroy's narrative is so fluid and poetic that it's apt to seduce you into reading just one more page, just one more chapter." —Lexington Herald-Leader
"Compelling storytelling . . . a page-turner . . . Conroy takes aim at our darkest emotions, lets the arrow fly, and hits a bull's-eye almost every time." —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel