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South of Broad

Narrated by: Mark Deakins
Length: 20 hrs and 1 min
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,155 ratings)

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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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.....

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A good read!

Would you listen to South of Broad again? Why?

I probably would not listen to the book again, but does not mean I didn't like it, I did--I always like Conroy....this book wasn't Prince of Tides..but it was worth the price.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Pamela
  • Easley, SC, USA
  • 02-23-10

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.

48 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Idaho Falls, ID, USA
  • 01-08-10

Long Overdue

It has been at least 10 years since Pat Conroy had written a sweeping passionate great American novel. South of Broad left me wishing there was another page another chapter. Write about anything but most importantly what happens next even if it means that they changed a diaper and went to the grocery store. Mr. Conroy's love of the English language gives the reader that rare joy of both enjoying the plot as well as enjoying the way the sentences float onto the pages as if delivered by an Angel and not a bic pen. A Conroy novel will never disappoint you and this installment takes it to an entirely new level. Treat yourself, spoil yourself today, and take your time with this one. Savor every word. Take your time and sip in each sentence allowing you to enjoy the romantic poetry of his language and develop the passions for his deeply created characters. You will not regret it!!

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Masterful Storyteller has a new offering.

I wanted to find out why Conroy took so long to complete this manuscript. But I nearly failed to order the download. So many of the other reviewers were negative about the story and many hated the reader. But from the very first few moments this book held me -- with a great story, simply told through a wonderful selection of characters.
Leo King is a Catholic. His mother is a former nun. Conroy could not have told his tale effectively without the repeated reference to the Catholic faith.
In the process of enjoying South of Broad, I soon learned that the numerous compelling and will-crafted stories. It's a love poem to the beautiful and historic city of Charleston. I liked the way Conroy described how Leo's high-school football team took shape. Having lived it the South and possessing first hand understanding of the painful process of desegregation, I took particular joy in the actions of a Black football coach as he crafted his championship team from a group of mostly unwilling players.
In San Francisco, Leo and his band of Charleston friends attempt to rescue one of their group, who was stricken with Aids. Conroy's factual approach to that terrible chapter in our history rings true.
Another memorable character is South of Broad is a maniac murderer whose sworn duty is to butcher his family and Leo. His children, a diverse set of twins, were conceived so their insane father could torture them in perpetuity. One of those twins, Sheba is Leo's first love. She becomes a Hollywood star because the only to live in her father's home was to create a world of make-believe.
If you are concerned with the art of storytelling, this book will provide you with masterful insight. South of Broad offers interesting characters. It contains wonderfully crafted stories told against a rich tapestry of history. The dialog is articulate and often great fun. What more could one ask for in a work of fiction.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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!

39 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Laurie
  • Florence, KY, United States
  • 08-06-11

Conroy does it again

I just love Pat Conroy's writing. He could write an instruction manual and it would sound amazing. That said, this book follows Conroy's previous patterns - the book moves from the present to the past, and the characters all have painful pasts. There were a few elements of the story were a bit far fetched (the twins' father) but all in all he remains one of my favorites. The narrator did an excellent job as well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Sweeping and Magnificent Story

Like Thomas Wolfe or Faulkner, Conroy give's a deeply resonating voice to the South and the human condition. His superlative and nearly peerless descriptive powers continue to ripen and bloom. Many times when listening to this book my heart ached not only for the characters in his story, but at Conroy's ability to capture the the subtle nuances of human interaction and the inner world. Lengthening an already long book, over and over again, I simply could not stop myself from pressing the rewind button. The narrator (Mark Deakin's) hit the tenor and accent for the story just right.

This is a book I will read again, and Leopold King is an inspiring, lovable, and unforgettable

Rob Obst

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 08-22-09

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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Angela
  • Williamsburg, VA, USA
  • 09-14-09

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.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful