South of Broad
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South of Broad

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  25,517 ratings  ·  4,369 reviews
The publishing event of the season: The one and only Pat Conroy returns, with a big, sprawling novel that is at once a love letter to Charleston and to lifelong friendship.

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 tea...more
Hardcover, 460 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2009)
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Best Books of 2009
38th out of 1,351 books — 6,702 voters
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Best Southern Literature
53rd out of 756 books — 1,829 voters


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Community Reviews

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Mary
Greatly anticipated and greatly loathed. I love the other Conroy novels. The Great Santini and the Prince of Tides are modern classics. But now Conroy has taken the "dysfunctional South Carolina family" formula and beaten it into the ground.

Where to start? Implausible plot elements. I mean PUH-leeze. I can't even cover all the gimmicks Conroy throws into this plot. Give your readers some credit, you don't have to hit them over the head with every imaginable twist on family dysfunction all in one...more
Eloise Meachum
This is a difficult book to review.

I loved Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, and I think he is an immensely talented writer and storyteller. South of Broad, however, is not one of his best works. There were far too many jarring grammatical errors (which occurred as early as page three), the dialogue was awful and the storyline over-the-top dramatic. That said, though, I still found it a compelling read, and Conroy at his worst is still better than 99% of the writers out there. Parts of the book...more
Lisa
Oct 14, 2009 Lisa added it
Shelves: abandoned
I am 29% into this book (no page numbers on the kindle...a little disconcerting). Not loving it, so far. The dialogue is really bugging me. Do people really talk like this? Is anyone else out there reading this right now and finding it irritating? I am compelled to keep going, because I want to see where it is going, but if the "witty banter" keeps up, I am going to have to give up. These are the oddest caricatures of Southern "folk" I have read in a long time.

Maybe I am from too far north (and...more
Joanie
This book has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. I was about to give birth when I tried last time and the stuff about his 10 year old brother committing suicide was too much to take at the time. Going to make it through this time!

Okay-I finished. Once I started I wondered why I ever waited. First off I want to say that I feel like in some ways the description did this book an injustice. Yes, it starts in Charleston and they travel to San Francisco but the desription makes it sound like t...more
Kathy
Can we add a shelf for "wouldn't waste my time finishing this?" I made it about halfway, trying to talk myself into finishing it. Finally, I couldn't take the horrid, lame dialog, character mix and plotting. This paragraph, spoken by Sheba Poe, famous "sex goddess" movie star, trying to find her disappeared brother about sums it up;

"Full page column. Tomorrow morning. Herb's going to tell the story of the famous actress and her high school friends from Charleston who've come to hunt for her bro...more
Malcolm
Pat Conroy’s “South of Broad” is a love song to Charleston with blood on the sheet music.

As he walks toward the Cooper River in 1990, six months after Hurricane Hugo tore into his beloved city, narrator Leo King ponders the city’s rebuilding and healing, and the coming spring: “Since the day I was born, I have been worried that heaven would never be half as beautiful as Charleston.”

Like his counterpart Tom Wingo in “The Prince of Tides” (1986), Leopold Bloom King is a psychologically wounded ma...more
Marla
The Prince of Tides will always be my favorite book, and I have loved many others written by the great Pat Conroy, but....

It hurts my heart to say this. South of Broad is the work of a man who has lost his mojo. It is a book that most likely only got into print because editors deferred to what was once genius, perhaps even assumed that the work would somehow be fine because so much of Conroy's past work is undeniably brilliant.

Where do I begin?

The plot? What plot? Disjointed rambling thoughts I...more
Mark Buckley
I found this book disappointing. I read Prince of Tides 11 years ago,enjoyed it and on the strength of that decided to give this book a go.

The introduction to the cast of characters is artificial, parading them out in a convenient sequence.

As some other reviewers have mentioned many of the characters are two dimensional.

The plot jerks around from 1969-1989 and gives the book a disjointed feel.

The final plot twist is heavily signposted and cliched.

The recurring praise heaped on Charleston S.C....more
Michelle
"I'll admit it; I've never watched or read The Prince of Tides. I didn't know who Pat Conroy was when I received this ARC from Doubleday. The book sounded interesting, so I requested a copy. I didn't know what to expect, and therefore, I probably have a different opinion than someone who is a huge fan of his work.[return][return]Since I didn't know what to expect, what I found was simply amazing. I completely fell in love with Mr. Conroy's descriptions of Charleston. It brought the city to life...more
Wburns
Awful. Dreadful. Could it be an intentional self mocking parody of his earlier work? I, like a lot of other reviewers, was looking forward to Conroy's latest novel having enjoyed all his other novels but...Where do I start? Leo narrates the tale and keeps on reminding us that he is a shy youth but never shuts up, and his patter is identical to the youthful lead characters in 'The Great Santini' and 'Lords of Discipline'. A movie star (novels featuring characters who are movie stars are never any...more
Connie
Let me start by saying, this is not the best of Pat Conroy, but I so love his writing I could overlook this exercise in a bit of melodrama. As always, his writing is music to my ears, poetic and creates a longing to visit his beloved Charleston and meet all of these characters.

I bonded with these characters and they made me think of childhood friends that have stayed with me long into adulthood. This is a story of true friendship, true love....with people and with a place that has molded you....more
Kate
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lara
Jan 10, 2010 Lara rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
Oh, this book is killing me. I usually reserve a special place in my heart for Pat Conroy (I think it's the Southerner within that's the culprit), but there are so many things about this book that are annoying me that I am actually keeping a list of them in a small notebook. One example: there are two characters named Fraser and Niles. FRASER. and NILES. I mean, I know he took the i out of "Frasier", but COME ON. ANother example: in the first 44 pages, a 17-year-old straight boy "skips" no fewer...more
Anne
Pat, Pat, is there any perversion you didn't visit in this book? Now I was with you on the Catholic issues, and murder was not out of the question, but the sicko father and the horrible scenes in the Tenderloin district moved into overwrought and in need of editing. Where was Nan on this manuscript? I agree with Kate that the Toad hardly seems like a kid, rather he sounds exactly like the 60 (?) year old author.
I would have given this book 5 stars for the amazing writing if it hadn't degenerated...more
Sara
Left of handsome Leopold, “Leo” is the sweetest South Carolina boy that you ever could meet, and he narrates Pat Conroy’s South of Broad. Broad is set in South Carolina and tells the story of his lifelong friendships forged during a fateful summer before his senior year of high school. Raised by a former nun and an all around great guy, Leo and his family is left reeling by the surprise suicide of his older golden brother Stephen. Coming out of his tailspin, shy but clever Leo endears glamorous...more
Kate
I just finished South of Broad and beg to differ with the resoundingly complimentary review blurbs on the book's cover. Maybe I've just read too much Pat Conroy? I don't know, but this book about a collection of extraordinary individuals involved in a succession of astounding situations was just a bit much.

To begin with, I'm tired of authors who claim a character - in particular someone quite young - is shy and awkward, but then places the kind of quick-witted dialog worthy of a talk show host i...more
Sorcia Macnasty
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tim
My first thought when I finished "South of Broad" — yes, spoken aloud to no one (except the author) — was, "Wow, you sure as hell pulled that one out of the fire."

"South of Broad," coming after a long fiction absence for this author since the disappointing "Beach Music," has many of the same flaws as that previous work. When Conroy's characters' wise-ass banter completely takes over, his novels can become an eye-rolling slog. Writing dialog is not his strength, and his use of sarcastic banter in...more
bookczuk
South of Broad. Stalled. Dead in the Water. Oh Pat Conroy! Where have you gone???

I usually love Conroy's books, despite the disfunctional and disturbed families often in them. His writing is his therapy. But even though this was a favorite author writing about a favorite place, it did nothing for me. Didn't draw me in or make the place alive in my mind's eye. It was like a bad coming of age novel, minus the cow and drive-in. I have abandoned the book for now, in the hopes that it is just my fra...more
Joann
I've previously loved books by Pat Conroy, and was eagerly waiting for the release of this one; what a disappointment! The characters are too unbelievable and not fully developed. Although the plot is good, the main characters remain in shadow and somewhat contrived...definitely not three-dimensional.
Amanda L
UGGGHHHHH. "Because music is an inexplicable awakener of the dark engines of our immortal souls, I remember every song that we danced to during that magical night."

I went back over my one-star ratings as I was teetering between one and two stars and I realized... I just cannot give it one star. Because at times I even enjoyed reading it (qualifying that with the fact that I do relish in the -laugh-out-loud, repeat-to-whoever-will-listen- absurd).

Enjoyed enough to find it "ok" despite the follo...more
Marcia
I was so excited to read this new Conroy, and now it has destroyed my love of him as an author. It made me question my reactions to all his earlier books that I adored: Prince of Tides, Lords of Discipline, The Water is Wide, Beach Music. At first I suspected someone else had written this book, it was so preposterous and jerky. I don't know if I'm stupid that I did not get anything out of the Ulysses theme,or it was just one more stupid thing about the book. I finally just gave up and read the s...more
Jlaurenmc
I began Pat Conroy's latest novel, South of Broad, with high expectations. Conroy is one of my favorite southern writers, although he can't really be called just a novelist of the south. His writing is more about the human condition than it is about the south, although oftentimes it seems as though the largess that is "the south" is almost a main character in his books. Conroy cannot be separated from his roots, an ironic fact given that his family often moved during his childhood. Despite that,...more
Pam
Fitzgerald, Irving and Joyce walk into a bar…

Ok, maybe there’s no punch line, here, but part of me wants to picture all three men imparting elements of their own writing to Pat Conroy as he sits writing South of Broad.

The rolling, epic begins as a love letter to the city of Charleston in the waning summer light of 1969. Rising high school senior, Leopold Bloom, finds himself on the rebound after a tumultuous teenage period, marred by the horrific memory and subsequent drama of his older brother’...more
Amy
Pat Conroy’s latest, South of Broad, is a love story to both South Carolina and the sense of place one can have for one’s hometown. Contrary to popular belief, love stories aren’t always composed of sunshine and roses; instead they very often contain periods of darkness and clear eyed realism. South of Broad follows Leopold Bloom King and several of his friends through their initial meeting in High School during the very racial charged 1960s, through the first days of the 1990s. True to the sout...more
K
SIGH. do you hear that? a big old SIGH. i loved prince of tides but i did read it 20 years ago. i tried BEACH MUSIC but found the story, as well as the writing, immature and sophomoric. i gave up. so when i heard about SOUTH OF BROAD, i was ecstatic. previews were promising. a saga about family with a backdrop of the city conroy so clearly adores, charleston. and when it began, it was wonderful. no one can TELL a story and create such a sense of southern despair like conroy. but again, SIGH, per...more
Julie
I've always enjoyed Pat Conroy, but his new book is lousy. Yes, it is a fine novel of place and a love letter to Charleston, but beyond that, the characters are trite, the plot is ridiculous, and the dialogue is forced exposition in many places. Spend your time rereading an old Conroy novel instead. Wish I had.
Dorothea Frank
This was the read of the summer for me. I adored it.
Selena
I liked the general story & the main character of this book very much. But it all could have been toned down a LOT. Seriously??? This book is sooo full of cliches its ridiculous. Lets see: interracial relationships during the 60s, homosexuality, the abused starlet, the alcoholic mother, the child that yearns for parental approval, the high school senior year that changes lives, unrequited love, a crazy maniac, a rag tag football team forced to come together & rise above the competition,...more
Kellyreaderofbooks
South of Broad centers around Leo King, otherwise known as "Toad' by his friends and enemies alike. Part of the book is set when "Toad" is in his late teens, and he's had a rough life. A family tragedy has caused a huge rift in his family, and caused him to have a mental breakdown. The summer before his senior year of high school he makes an eccentric group of friends, and these friends will be close to him into adult hood. These friends bring their own sets of troubles and problems.

I was so exc...more
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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 Beach Music The Great Santini The Lords of Discipline The Water Is Wide: A Memoir

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“What's important is that a story changes every time you say it out loud. When you put it on paper, it can never change. But the more times you tell it, the more changes will occur. A story is a living thing; it moves and shifts” 32 likes
“It did not look like the work of God, but it might have represented the handicraft of a God with a joyous sense of humor, a dancing God who loved mischief as much as prayer, and playfulness as much as mischief.” 8 likes
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