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Beach Music

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  26,104 ratings  ·  1,901 reviews
PAT CONROY, America’s preeminent storyteller, delivers a sweeping novel of lyric intensity and searing truth–the story of Jack McCall, an American expatriate in Rome, scarred by tragedy and betrayal. His desperate desire to find peace after his wife’s suicide draws him into a painful, intimate search for the one haunting secret in his family’s past that can heal his anguis ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published March 26th 2002 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published January 1st 1975)
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Community Reviews

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I would never have read this book, had it not been left in a pile of paperbacks on a rig offshore, and I had I not finished the two books I brought with me already. I honestly had no idea what to expect, and almost put it down after 13 pages because Talladega Nights was on HBO.

But I didn't, and I spent large chunks of my afternoons once back onshore reading this monstrosity. Beach Music is a grand, sweeping novel of a Southern man in a Southern city in a Southern state (South Carolina, ironicall
I met Pat Conroy at a book signing event in Atlanta when this book was released. There just so happened to be another Furman Alumni in line ahead of us and I heard Conroy say something about Furman. I spoke up making sure he knew I was there. His response was something like "You Furman people are like Lynx, you're everywhere!" So, thinking I understood that his spat with The Citadel had turned him sour against the school I made some smartass, derogatory comment about The Citadel. He signed my bo ...more

It's weird because there's something amateur? unintellectual? about his writing, yet it's profoundly wise and he comes up with poetic comparisons all over the place. I can't place it. Maybe the characters are a bit too cheesy at times. Hopeless romantic? I don't know. But he writes about insanely tragic things and with utter understanding. This and Prince of Tides are very healing books - they have a raw power.

One paragraph summed up my Mom in such beauty that that is all I need to kn
Possibly one of the worst books I have ever had the misfortune to read. I bought it after hearing Nan Talese, Conroy's editor, talk about how it was put together. In retrospect, I should have realized that her telling of how Conroy was impaired by drink and depression during the writing of the book, and her active role in putting the book together meant it would be a crazy-quilt hodgepodge rambling Faulkner wannabe of a book. When the Nazis showed up, I though, Oh My God.

Kate Dolack
Pat Conroy is a magical writer, and his 'Beach Music,' is no exception. This is perhaps my favorite book of all time, though I do alternate with his other, 'The Prince of Tides,' so beware that I'm reviewing 'Beach Music' as a committed Conrophile, (if such a phrase could exist). Jack McCall is a sweeping character, and when the book opens, we find he and his daughter ensconced away in Rome after a family tragedy. What follows is a story that, in my opinion, weaves a brilliant quilt of familiarl ...more
Feb 08, 2009 Matthew rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who can stand sappy writing
Recommended to Matthew by: One of my tenth grade students
I was initially skeptical about starting up one of these "blockbuster" novels, but Beach Music's prologue was surprisingly well written and I found myself strangely captivated to read on. As a testament to the quality of that prologue, I waded through a couple hundred pages of overwrought and overweight storytelling just to find some closure on the Jack McCall's wife's suicide mystery. There would be times in my reading when I had to look away from the book because the prose would be so sentimen ...more
This is a really beautifully written story.
I've purchased this book no less than 4 different times. Every time someone saw it they wanted to borrow it and somehow it never got returned. My mother-in-law filched the last copy I bought and she SWEARS it belongs to her.

I picked up yet another copy to take away with me and read while traveling and am truly enjoying re-discovering just how wonderful it is to read Pat Conroy.

I'm so pleased to have picked this book up again. What a joy to read such art
The back cover of this book doesn't give a very good description of what the plot is about. And why would it (how could it?), when the plot is this much of a mess? In short: Jack McCall is an American who moves to Rome with his young daughter after his wife commits suicide, intending to never see anyone from his past again (including his own family), but he eventually comes home and starts dealing with the past.

The long version of the plot is... I don't even know where to begin, the book is such
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Prior to reading Beach Music, I had only experienced Conroy in his reading memoir, My Reading Life. Since I knew he would be at the SC Book Festival, I spent most of my reading time this past week coming back to this book. I had started it on a beach trip with my sister over spring break, but some of the topics were a little too close to me at that time.

Jack, the main character in this novel, has lived in Rome with his daughter Leah ever since his wife Shyla committed suicide and he had a very c
I've read Beach Music twice. After the first reading, 15 years ago, I decided it was one of the best books I'd ever read. Now, in 2010, I finally re-read it and came to the exact same conclusion. It is simply a brilliant, complex work that few writers other than Pat Conroy would even attempt to pull off.

Those who don't like the book usually focus on its length (nearly 800 pages), and what they call the "indistinguishable" brothers. When it comes to book length, my view is that a bad book at 50 p
I can count on one hand the number of books that have made me cry. This is one of them. I chose this book because its cold here in Minnesota this time of year and I wanted to be whisked back to warm South Carolina, a state I've been privileged to live in. South Carolina gets into your blood and so does Conroy. He's simply a master of words, some of his descriptions so achingly beautiful that I had to reread them just to see if I had imagined them.

This is a brutal book touching on the topics of
While competently written and quite entertaining, Beach Music tries to be too many books in one. I didn't think the various aspects of the story resonated with each other enough to belong in the same book. I felt that Conroy could have written three tighter novels with the material he packed into this one loose one. For example, the long backstory about Lucy's childhood, while interesting, could have been shortened considerably or left to the imagination. It was enough to know she wasn't "of goo ...more
I wanted to like Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. Really, I did. The opening paragraph (a stunning, lyrical evocation of a young woman’s suicide) drew me into the sprawling, eight hundred page tome. At first glance, the book seemed to have all the elements of a rip-roaring good yarn: betrayal, forgiveness, intergenerational conflict, and a number of love affairs thrown in for good measure.

At the story’s start, we meet main character Jack McCall, who (with only his daughter, Leah, for company) is livin
I love almost anything by Conroy, but this - in my humble opinion - is his greatest masterpiece. My husband used to read this book to me when we were dating (he in Colorado and I in Athens, GA), and when we ran out of things to talk about, he would read to me about Jack McCall. Conroy tells some beautiful (albeit sometimes, heavy)stories. He paints gorgeous pictures of Italy, South Carolina, and some heartwrenching tales of the life of a man trying to escape his past. My favorite moment in the b ...more
I fell in love with Pat Conroy's writing while on holiday at Hunting Island, South Carolina - it was accidental though, my professor at grad school had reccomended him and I thought it looked like a good meaty read for a beach holiday. I didn't have any idea that he sets most of his books there and is from there. But it just hooked me in and I could hardly put it down to even walk down to the beach from our camp site. This might very well be up there with Diana Wynne Jones's A Tale of Time City ...more
Patrick Conroy hurls words and ideas at you and they all land in a perfectly harmonized formation of drama, humor and outrageously engaging characters. His gift for creating characters from words on a page to larger than life people is magnificent. Beach Music incorporates some very difficult topics and weaves together a number of complex story lines, which intertwine in this multi generational epic. In all his books he is excellent at depicting dysfunction in families and this book is no except ...more
Set in the American South and Rome, this is one of my all time favorite books. Would give it 10 stars if I could. I loved the complex family dynamic AND the food descriptions. I really enjoy reading people's descriptions of food.* One of the main characters is a food critic and he discusses the meals be prepares for his broken family at various points in his life. This character also finds cooking soothing and a way to escape; I'm happy for this character that he has a job that is one of his pas ...more
I have read this book at least a dozen times, and it remains one of my very favorites. I can't recommend it enough.

The story centers around Jack McCall, who leaves his home in South Carolina and moves to Italy with his daughter, Leah, after losing his wife. The story follows Jack and Leah as they make a new life in Italy, eventually return to South Carolina, and cope with the loss of their beloved wife and mother. There are interesting subplots throughout, along with beautifully written characte
A good epic southern novel. I forgot how much fun it was to read these types of books full of family drama, unrealistic and over-the-top characters, and some good old romance.

I remember really enjoying Conroy's Prince of Tides when I read it back as the oldest 10th grader you'll ever know--this book has a similar feel to it. Jack McCall has fled to Rome after his wife commits suicide. He takes his daughter, Leah, with him and vows never to return to the South as there are too many painful memor
This one covers the same ground as "Prince of Tides," but not nearly as well. "Prince of Tides" was compelling and the writing was beautiful, but "Beach Music" rambles. I wanted to find out what happened, but I just got tired of slogging through it all...
I read this a while back, but reread parts of it over the holidays and gave it as a gift to my brother Bill. It deals with several friends who grew up together in the 60's. They had various family problems -- one was a child of holocaust survivors, another had a physically and verbally abusive father, while yet another had an alcoholic father and a weak (terrified) mother. Because we grew up with an abusive step-father and an alcoholic father, it was the first book I ever read that I could actua ...more
I guess this goes on the "mainstream" shelf...the fact that it's the only book there right now says something about my tastes in reading. Anyway, I bushing loved this book. The end.

Oh, well, I guess I could go into some detail. The characters are fun, the stories they have are enthralling, and the settings are wonderfully described. The plot moves in a less-than-linear fashion, with flashbacks forming a significant portion of the book, but that's just fine.

And not only are the characters fun, th
In true Pat Conroy style, I was longing to visit Rome and the Charleston area again. Just wanted to get on a plane and toss a coin between the two and tell the pilot, "let's go to...".
Pat Conroy is a master storyteller and has you loving all the characters for different reasons. I laughed, cried and sometimes both at the same time.

A must read for anyone. No wonder so many of his books have been made into movies!!
I read this book many, many years ago, and at that time, it was my favorite all time book. I just finished reading it again because it was one that I recommended along with Laura. I wanted to see if I still enjoyed it as much as I did the first time.

The answer is yes, I really enjoyed this book, but it is not my all time favorite now. I still characterize this book as "a slice of life" book because it is about a dysfunctional family, or rather 3 dysfunctional families! Aren't all families dysfun
Sherry Cogburn

Overall it was a good story and I enjoyed reading it.

I did not respect any of the 5 "friends". I found the secondary characters, John Hardin, Betsy, the general, Jordan, Jack's Father and Mother much more interesting than the 5 "friends" characters.

The first half of the book kept me on the edge of my seat with the promise of some horrible, unforgiveable acts made by Jack's family that made him move all the way across the world to Italy which, dissappointingly, never revealed themselves. The fa
Alison Whittington
I put "Beach Music" in the pile of books I've had for years and never read, with the intent of giving it a shot and then giving it away. Now that I've finally read it, it's back on my shelves.

It's far from a perfect book - full of overwrought melodrama and so many intense, horrible events that they lose some power, eventually leaving the reader more puzzled than sympathetic. There are also questions and discrepancies that are never addressed, and the pacing is often stilted.

But the first person
Here is where Pat Conroy's foibles and weaknesses come home to roost. "Beach Music" is his worst book (I haven't read the hard-to-find and generally forgotten "The Boo") by a considerable distance. Even the most ardent Conroy admirers will likely admit his faults: an occasional tin ear for dialogue, a tendency for his main characters to indulge in too much forced humor, similar characters from book to book. And, of course, there's Conroy's astonishingly repetitive dialogue quirk which, once you ...more
Really a 2.5, but I can't round up to a 3. This book has so many flaws that it was hard to get through. There is way too much going on for this book and it could've been divided into 2 stories. Since there was so much going on, it trivialized some of the serious stories - the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, the wife's suicide, and the totally random part when the main character gets shot by terrorists and it's not mentioned again once he is out of the hospital. With so much serious content, the auth ...more
The best book I have read this year. This sweeping memoir-ish story must be one of the most beautifully expressed stories about the complexity of family, grief and love, pain, beauty, community and reflection, that is in existence.

A sweeping and whole story, taking place both in South Carolina and in Italy (with delicious descriptions of food and architecture), includes intimate character developments and well woven braids of story line -- I couldn't put this book down. Had I not read it while i
Joy H.
I finally finished reading this 800 page book. Although it was interesting in parts, and well-written, I didn't find it compelling.

For further more articulate negative comments about this book (many of which I agree with) see the GR reviews which give it only one or two stars. (You can do this by using the sorting application at the top of the GR reviews).
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Pat Conroy is the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Water Is Wide) befo ...more
More about Pat Conroy...
The Prince of Tides South of Broad The Great Santini The Lords of Discipline The Water Is Wide: A Memoir

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“Music could ache and hurt, that beautiful music was a place a suffering man could hide.” 268 likes
“American men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do, with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our livers eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no outlet. We, men, die because our faces were not watered enough.” 111 likes
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