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South of Broad | [Pat Conroy]

South of Broad

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 13, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him
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Publisher's Summary

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 13, 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.

©2009 Pat Conroy; (P)2009 Random House

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1217 )
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Performance
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  •  
    bonnie 10-23-09
    bonnie 10-23-09

    DaWomz

    HELPFUL VOTES
    161
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    "Disappointing Entry from Great Writer"

    Because Pat Conroy is my all-time favorite writer, I set aside quality listening time to regale in his latest novel. Now I have spent the equivalent listening hours to determine why South of Broad was such a great disappointment.
    1) The reader was aweful. He did southern accent okay .. it's just that all the southern accents were so similar that I couldn't tell which character was speaking without a "he said" or "she said" to indicate.
    2) The characters were stereotypical and predictable. No surprises, even at the end when we were, I think, supposed to be shocked.
    3) There was no subletly ... every nuance was clearly elucidated like Conroy didn't trust his own writing to deliver underlying thoughts, feelings or motives without explanation.
    4) Attempts to make each of the characters memorable failed. I kept waiting to care about what happened to them, and just couldn't muster the empathy.
    5) Despite its length, there was a sense of abridgement ... like the story was maintained but not the Conroy essence of it. When I fell asleep during part 2 I didn't bother to backup and listen to the hour I had missed, and predictably important plot parts of the missed scene were rehashed a few times

    This novel is not representative of the man who brought us The Great Santini, Prince of Tides, Lords of Discipline, etc...

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Oklahoma City, OK, United States 10-06-09
    Sue Oklahoma City, OK, United States 10-06-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful!!!"

    I loved this book it was one of the best books I've ever listened to on audio. It is a must buy!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margary St. Simons Island, GA, USA 10-04-09
    Margary St. Simons Island, GA, USA 10-04-09 Member Since 2008
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    "GREAT BOOK!!!!"

    I really enjoyed the twist and turns this novel took. Loved the characters and how they handled hardships. I have visited Charleston and could experience the city again as I listened to the book. I would highly recommend Pat Conroy's South of Broad.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry P. Klein 09-29-09 Member Since 2002
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    "More please?"

    This was my first book by Pat Conroy and I would hope that he is considering a continued story of Leo's life beyond these tragedies. I loved the drama, comedy and emotions the writing evoked in me. I giggled, sighed, worried and naturally, cried. People complain about the jumping around but I've seen this style in many books and enjoy it. I think it adds to the storyline and always promises a surprise revealed about Leo's life, "back when" or in his adult life.
    I will probably read it again but will, for now, check out another by this author. Decisions, deciisons.....

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 09-21-09
    William 09-21-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Where have South Carolina's manners gone?"

    The few pages devoted to descriptions of Charleston are very nice. The rest is told with outhouse language; profanity, obscenity and unnecessary gutter prose. The message, once said is maudlin and repetitive. I expected much better.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 08-22-09
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 08-22-09 Member Since 2007

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Definitely credit-worthy"

    No, this isn't fine literature -- but it is 20 hours of an impeccably read story. The narration is superb. The characters are well developed and very real. While I prefer to be astounded or amazed, this is simply a very good listen -- and well worth a credit.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa S. 06-21-10
    Lisa S. 06-21-10 Member Since 2008
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    "I gave up"

    I've listened to dozens of audiobooks and this is the first one that I've ever given up on. I'm a very patient listener. I liked the first part, but I felt it went downhill in the second part. As the characters I had started to enjoy moved into their adult lives, they became hard to believe and relate to. I found that I just didn't care what happened to them any more - a very rare thing for me! I usually enjoy a good character drama. Apparently some folks did enjoy it, but this one just wasn't for me.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Williamsburg, VA, USA 09-14-09
    Angela Williamsburg, VA, USA 09-14-09 Member Since 2004
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    "Thoroughly Entrancing"

    How many of us wish that we had friends like those in "South of Broad"? I thought I had some friends like those, and they were only cultivated in my 50's; but the friendships disappeared when I moved to another state, but I digress.
    This is my first Pat Conroy and I found his use of the English language extraordinary. The characters were so well developed but Mr. Conroy was always able to, in his inimitable style, carve just another facet onto each persona. His words flowed like the most beautiful classical concerto I have ever heard!
    I laughed out loud, and I cried, and I just had tears in my eyes throughout the book. Some occurrences had an eerie, though distant, similarity to my own life. And the book, to this point, has a distinct sense of plausibility.
    I am well into the third part and do not want this story to end as I feel that my friends will be gone and will only remain as phantoms in my memory.
    If Mr. Conroy has usurped the words in Merriam-Webster for his previous books as he has in "South of Broad" I am sure that I shall meet, greet, and make other friends, but they too shall sadly end up as phantoms.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Tribble 03-19-10
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    "Awful"

    This may be the worst book I ever finished reading or listened to. I believe Conroy put 139 awful things that could happen in life in a hat and picked out 27. No redeeming value at all.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    stephen muncie, IN, United States 11-05-09
    stephen muncie, IN, United States 11-05-09 Member Since 2006
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    "Not Conroy's Best"

    I love Pat Conroy, but this wasn't very good. He recycles the same themes: race in the south, class tensions, and of course mother issues.

    I found the dialog awkward and at times unbelievable. The constant bickering of characters was annoying. The wisecracking of the protagonist falls short of being cute or funny.

    The characters lacked depth. I had a difficult time liking the good guys and conversely disliking the villains.




    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
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