Jane's Reviews > South of Broad

South of Broad by Pat Conroy
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Sep 04, 2009

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09/04/2009 page 2
0.43% "I'll be reading this while we drive south on Highway 81 tomorrow."

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message 1: by Jane (last edited Sep 08, 2009 05:30AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jane OK, well, Conroy hasn't published a novel in 14 years so this one is on the Washington Post's bestseller list. First, his descriptions of the beauties of Charleston are riveting. It's a big book, full of action, nearly spellbinding in sections. However, I was disappointed. Guess I need to go back and read The Great Santini to see if my expectations were too high. Like the Lisa See book I recently read, this book seems to me to have been written after the creation of a check list, in this case, hmmm, integration, problems in the Catholics church, AIDS and its attendant suffering, class barriers in Charleston, major psychological illness, and so on. The major coincidences, imposed integration and the arrival of two new sets of age-mates in the protagonist's life at the beginning of his senior year of high school, anchor the rest of the novel. Oh, yes, and the protagonist's mother, (a former nun) is the principal of the high school he attends, and his dad a physics teacher there, so they, too, are in the center of the action. If Conroy had focused on half of these issues, I'd have liked the book more. Also, I suffered from dialogue envy: These characters all speak in the snappy phrases I first heard in the Knox College Gizmo and relatively seldom hear in real life. (OK, I live in an "active adult" community where we all think too slowly to be so entertaining?) Flashy dialogue interferes with real character development even though it's fast and gives the characters the facade of modern irony which is so popular on sit-com's. In sum, the novel held my attention on the long drive to Tennessee, but it's not the great American novel that I think Conroy has in him.

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