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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 (1160 )
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4.2 (366 )
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4.4 (366 )
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  •  
    karen United States 04-05-10
    karen United States 04-05-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    900
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    169
    141
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    Overall
    "Wanted very much to like this book, but....."

    I'm a real Pat Conroy fan, so this was a book I looked forward to listening to -- in fact, I saved it for a time when I could really enjoy it. But bottom line: several times, I nearly quit listening. If it had been almost any author other than Conroy, I no doubt would have.

    I didn't have a problem with the narrator as some did, although the grating mispronounciation of "Herb Caen" -- aauuuuggggghhhh -- over and over was annoying. Instead, this was just a flawed novel.

    The biggest problem was that the cookie-cutter "good" characters never rang true -- no human is (or ever has been) as saintly as Leo. No gay man could ever be as marvelously talented, creative, tolerant and all-around perfect as Trevor. It didn't take long at all before I was all-full-up with listening to Leo's pious and perfect responses to whatever bad stuff came his way -- and an awesome amount of bad stuff it was.

    I also disliked the never ending chatty banter among this group of whatever-may-happen,we-always-hang-together friends. There was way too much emphasis on the fact that some were black and some white, way too much ostantatious acceptance of Trevor's sexuality (What? were you afraid we wouldn't get it, so it had to be laid on with a trowel?) But overall, all that witty byplay just got tiring. Enough, already -- tell us a story! We don't need the endless stream of one-liners.

    Thirdly, the plot line was just not believable. The notion of this group of childhood friends becoming adults, and repeatedly setting out to rescue one of the wayward members was just too much.

    And by the way, why the scene repitition from earlier books? Or is the tender washing of elderly feet -- lifted almost word for word from "Lords of Discipline" -- just a South Carolina thing?

    I'll go back and listen to the earlier Pat Conroy books -- now THOSE were something!

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa S. 06-21-10
    Lisa S. 06-21-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
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    135
    6
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    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Easley, SC, USA 02-23-10
    Pamela Easley, SC, USA 02-23-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    5
    2
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    "Authors Need to Review Pronunciations"

    I am actually in the process of listening to the book and am only about a third of the way through. Pat Conroy is one of my favorite writers and this is the first book of his that I have listened to. I read the actual books of all the others. I am enjoying the book. However, I continue to be amazed at the improper pronunciation of proper nouns by narrators on audio books. Mr. Deakins mispronounces one of the most notable names from Charleston and I don't understand why Pat Conroy or someone else did not correct this! Huger is properly pronounced like "You gee". It makes me cringe every time I hear him say it wrong. A similar thing happened with another SC author in another audio book set in SC. Please people, do your pronunciation research! Someone from the local area might just be listening!!! And yes, I am from SC.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark nyack, NY, United States 09-01-09
    Mark nyack, NY, United States 09-01-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    17
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    "I dont believe Pat Conroy Wrote this!"

    I have loved all his books.
    After listening for two hours, I believe Pat didnt write this or he had a head injury!
    Something is Real Fishy here!

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Constant Reader LA, CA, USA 09-02-09
    Constant Reader LA, CA, USA 09-02-09 Member Since 2008

    M

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Mistake"

    For some odd reason, I thought South of Broad was written by the same Pat Conroy who wrote The Great Santini and Lords of Discipline. My mistake. This is clearly the Pat Conroy who used to write under pseudonyms like Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann. For this is nothing but a shabby melodrama, a soap opera peopled by cardboard cutouts, with a little "hot" sex tossed in, and an amazingly bizarre structure. It feels as if whoever this particular Conroy is, he tried to cobble together a bunch of stories he had sitting around in shoe boxes. At best, it's chewing gum for the mind -- a brainless book to read while burning on the beach...

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Tribble Montgomery, AL United States 03-19-10
    Jean Tribble Montgomery, AL United States 03-19-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    112
    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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    stephen muncie, IN, United States 11-05-09
    stephen muncie, IN, United States 11-05-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    75
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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.




    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Arlington, VA, United States 04-21-10
    Sandra Arlington, VA, United States 04-21-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    117
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    61
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    "If you like Paat Conroy"

    This is simply Conroy doing what Conroy does. I like his stories, I like the struggles between what most of us accept as normal. I like seeing how prejudices play out with "real" people. This isn't as good as Prince of Tides, but as stated, if you like Conroy, this book works.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Whittier, CA, United States 09-03-09
    Susan Whittier, CA, United States 09-03-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    104
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    21
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    "Overwrought and overwritten"

    Like so many of the other reviewers, I am a long-time and devoted Conroy fan. And there is no doubt the man can put the words together. His descriptions are pitch perfect. Unfortunately, in South of Broad, the story itself does not hold up its end of the bargain. Takes too long to get started, and it feels to me as if the descriptions and lovely writing style obscure the lack of story. I just hope that it wasn't on purpose.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy 02-11-10
    Nancy 02-11-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    378
    4
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    "Conroy's worst"

    Not one character rang true for me and the dialog all sounded phony.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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