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Beach Music

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  44,352 ratings  ·  2,966 reviews
An American expatriate in Rome unearths his family legacy in this sweeping novel by the acclaimed author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini

A Southerner living abroad, Jack McCall is 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 pas
Paperback, 800 pages
Published March 26th 2002 by Dial Press (first published July 2nd 1995)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  44,352 ratings  ·  2,966 reviews

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Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
May 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
When Pat Conroy initially wrote it,the draft was over 2,000 pages.He had already received an advance for a million dollars and had already spent it,without writing the book.His personal life was in turmoil at the time and he was having trouble with his then wife,whom he later accused of stealing millions of dollars from him.

The book was cut down from the original 2,000 pages.But even then,the sheer size of this book is daunting,over 600 pages,in my hardback edition.And it rambles,it feels fairly
Erin Rouleau
Jun 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Kate Dolack
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.

Sharon Metcalf
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Not so much a book as a life experience, Pat Conroy's Beach Music covers a heck of a lot of topics. Like his other titles this one has family and friendship are the forefront but the scope of this novel was vast covering alcoholism, suicide, schizophrenia, domestic violence, religion, the holocaust, the vietnam war, politics, trust, sickness, survival, and love in all shapes and sizes. He so thoroughly tackles each topic it sometimes felt like he'd written several books in one.

Primarily set in
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I'm having a hard time kicking this review off, because there is much.

I finished this novel last night and have started another, but my head is still full of this story.

When I was about 3/4 through the story, an image came to mind. You know when you place a drop of oil on a water surface and then that drop expands out? That's how this story structure seemed to evolve.

Beach Music starts off with the main character talking about his wife, who had jumped off a South Carolina bridge to her
Mar 29, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A story gives only pleasure. A lie gives mostly pain.” (3.5 stars)

BEACH MUSIC is a novel that requires you to suspend your disbelief, then suspend it some more, then stomp on it, kick it in the mouth, and then suspend it again. I was all over the place with this book! At times it is so melodramatic, it borders on being a soap opera. And yet you keep reading because you recognize Pat Conroy’s talent, and you trust him to snap out of it (he does for brief interludes) and because you don’t want t
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Scott Danielson
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
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pat Conroy wrote the beautiful introduction to one of my all-time favorite books, “Gone with the Wind”. My rule with classics, not that I read them as often as I probably should, is to read the introduction after completing the book. Once I finished “Gone with the Wind” and then read Conroy’s introduction, I knew that this would be an author that I need to look into.

“Beach Music” is the first book that I have read by him. It grabbed me right from the start and I was hooked. Even though we were
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: popular-fiction
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
Jul 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pat Conroy has done it again! A fantastic 5 star audiobook on cassettes! I could not stop listening to this novel until it was finished! Wow! Thanks to my Goodreads friends who recommended this masterpiece with their excellent reviews. My only regret is that it has taken me until today to find BEACH MUSIC and read it.
It is about love, childhood, dysfunctional families, horrors of World War II, abuse, growing up, university days, environmental issues, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, priesthood,
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves an author who makes the characters so real
Just absolutely loved this novel! It was a bit long but the characters are both warm and endearing. Pat Conroy is a fabulous author.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Original Notes (1996):


I think this has to be one of the very best books I've ever read. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. I want to read everything Pat Conroy has ever written. He writes the most beautiful sentences and I felt like I could see, hear, taste and smell everything he described. The characters became a part of me. I laughed. I cried. What a beautiful, lyrical book. I recommend it to everyone. Rod read it in a few days and enjoyed it, too.

My Current Thought
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-loved
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
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, favorites, 2019
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
Krystin Ciesco
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Aside from the book being epically long, Pat Conroy is a great story teller. However I was disappointed with the climax of the book and a bit let down leading me to struggle to finish. But I did and thought that the biggest strength were the story elements that made me laugh, weep, get angry, etc. A good read if you are willing to commit to the length of the book.
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x05-may-2017
I love Pat Conroy's writing. ...more
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks2share2
To read a book by Pat Conroy is to come to the realization that so much of everything else I read, and think is good, is truly just an appetizer getting me ready for the main course -- which is what Conroy is. Every sentence you read lures you into the web of Conroy's storytelling. This is a book that will take you from the piazzas in Rome to the low country of South Carolina. You will fall so deeply in love with each setting that you couldn't possibly decide which place you would prefer to live ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books - I can go back to it over and over. I rarely re-read a book given all the other books on my TBR list but this one haunts me and I feel compelled to go back to it. Pat Conroy's storytelling is unlike anyone else and it speaks to me in a way that rarely happens. The characters leap off the page, the themes are timeless. Well written, excellent storytelling. I can't begin to do it justice in my review other than to say that I adore this novel in every way! ...more
Dec 27, 2008 rated it liked it
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... ...more
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Pat Conroy (1945 - 2016) was 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 Wate ...more

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