©2002 Pat Conroy; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Conroy has achieved a penetrating vision of the Southern psyche in this enormous novel of power and emotion." (Library Journal)
Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.
I have truly come to love Patrick Conroy's writing. This is only my 2nd book of his and it was fabulous. The story is about two dysfunctional families, however the focus is mainly on the Wingo family. Tom Wingo is the protagonist. He has a mentally unbalanced twin sister Savannah and a "take charge" brother Luke. Conroy brings each character to life. The character development of Tom, Savannah and Luke and well as Lila and Henry, the emotionally and physically abusive parents and the loveable quirky grandparents is astounding. There is a secondary family as well, the family of Susan Lowenstein, Savannah's psychiatrist, whose family has not escaped without major issues either. Tom and Susan meet regularly to discuss Savannah's therapy, and the two of them develop their own personal and professional relationship. We come to know the details of the Wingo family through Tom's discussions with Lowenstein. We learn of a very disturbing secret which Lila has forced her children to keep and live this torturous lie as though nothing every happened. This denial plunges an already disturbed group of people into the further depths of mental catastrophe. Amongst the dysfunction, lies and abuse, these three siblings manage to forge a very strong bond consisting of love and protection for each other. They really have each other's backs throughout the novel. The Prince of Tides is truly a prince amongst novels. Conroy is talented beyond words.
The narrator cannot go without mention. Frank Muller brought this book to life like no other! He deserves a posthumous academy award for this performance!
I read this book several years ago, and of course, saw the movie with Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. I loved them both, but the book was better. The poetical style with which Pat Conroy writes is magical to say the least. It fairly floats off the tongue, so to speak. This time around, I listened to this book read by a true master, Frank Muller. If Conroy writes poetically, Muller reads as if he were born to take it to the epitome of what it could become. Conroy mentions that he himself was amazed at how good his writing sounds when read by this master story teller. The combination of the two makes for an experience that I did not want to have end.
This is not a happy book, although the ending resolves nicely. Although no one is fooled into thinking "they all lived happily ever after," the reader is left with a sense of hope that the protagonist as well as many other characters have grown through their experiences, and have become better people, better able to handle the problems of their lives. That in turn gives me hope for my own life. Perhaps that is the message I take from this book.
It is satisfying, engaging, and very very compelling. I could not wait to get back to it every day. I laughed, I cried, my heart was broken on more than one occasion, and I loved these characters. The character development is masterful, made all the more so by Muller's expert characterizations. I could virtually see their faces!
I will be reading more books by Conroy. I had decided that long ago. But I did a search of books narrated by Muller, who was a trained Shakespearean actor, and to my delight, found that he has narrated many books, a discovery made all the sweeter due to the fact of his untimely demise in 2008 as the result of a motorcycle accident. He seemed to have specialized in authors such as Steven King, John Grisham, and others. Sadly, this is the only Conroy book that he read. But it is a treasure. I recommend it to anyone who loves great prose, fabulous narration, and who has an open and artistic mind.
Do not listen to this book unless you are prepared to be entranced by a poetic saga narrated by a master storyteller. The pause button will cease to function as you become mesmerized by this majestic blend of tragedy, humor, and deep insight. You have been warned!
Conroy is an amazing writer, and this is his best novel. It's dense and rich and funny and tragic in places. He's a southern writer in the classic tradition: his novels are peopled by legions of characters, and none of them are cardboard. There are at least a dozen major characters here (!), and all are fully-fleshed-out, complex, human, with unique voice and character traits that make them come alive. The way they interact with one another makes this a relentlessly interesting and satisfying story. So what's it about? Geez. It's about Tom Wingo and his brilliant but psychotic sister Savanah, and good-ole-boy-cum-philosopher Luke. Plus their mom. And their dad. And their grandparents. And... well, read the damn thing. You'll see. It's absolutely engrossing. He's a writer of compassion and wit and laugh-out-loud humor. I personally liked the earlier Wolfram Kandinsky narration best, but Conroy likes this one by Muller best; and Muller, as always, is exceptional, bested by no one in the narration universe except Wolfram Kandinsky.
This audio book is a work of art. It is a testimonial to what can be achieved when two consummate artists and professionals fuse their talents to create what can only be described as true masterpiece.
If you want someone to appreciate the audiobook genre, have them listen to this one.
God, I miss Frank Muller.
Stunned because I did not like this story when I saw the movie and still did not like it much in the novel. Much ado about very little from my point of view. This is a story of a family. A poor family from South Carolina where the father was a pilot and officer in Korea, owns an entire island where 40 acres is a small section, and is financing an 85 foot shrimp boat in S. Carolina. I should have been so poor growing up. The father was a bit mean but not really too bad. This youngster should have met my father. These are the reasons I almost did not download this book. But enough of my fears. This author is a teller of tales and the narration is a work of art. The prose and the way the author uses the English language as a paintbrush makes this book a must get. Just the little childrens book within the book written by the sister was worth the credit. I think this author and narrator could speak to any subject and make it interesting. I would kill or die for that kind of skill. The book is complete and ends when it should but I was sorry to see it go. Now I must try to find another book that compares to this. A very difficult task I think. Bravo!
Love a great book that stays with you long after you've finished it.
Excellent listen. A fasinating story of a family filled with love toward each other, but broken in how they show it. Tramatic, yet I laughed out loud at times, a book I could hardly put down, I long for another like it. Pat Conroy makes language not only a tool of communication, but a thing of beauty. You won't be disappointed.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This was a terrific read years ago when it first came out. After listening to it now, I must say the audio version is even better. The narration is absolutely perfect. I appreciate Pat Conroy's ability to craft a complex story. Excellent use of a credit.
I LOVE to listen to audiobooks - the Audible ap is by far the best thing that's ever happend to my iPhone.
The actual story has a good, solid delivery. I didn't see the movie - so I didn't have any preconceived ideas of the character's appearances or behaviors. The narration was descent. I'm not sure I would recommend this as a good use of a credit... but if you like a book that draws as many questions as it gives vague answers, then this will be right up your alley.
My questions for author -
Am I missing something? Was there more horrific abuse that happened that plagued the children into adulthood? Or was the message more of a family with a genetic disposition to depression and other mental illness?
If the story was about saving the sister from her own mental demons by exploring the root -her childhood distress - why did the book focus soley on the brother telling tales of his childhood memories? The tales were often endearing - and didn't itterate details that would warrant such mental decay? There was one night of tragedy - but the one child who suffered the most seemed to lead the most "normal" adult life.
Its a "good" book, its a spectacular audiobook. Frank Muller takes it to a whole 'nother level with his amazing performance. Its the best performed audio book I have ever heard, hands down. A good story is one thing, but a good story told by a master story teller is spellbinding.
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