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The Prince of Tides

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  181,401 ratings  ·  3,924 reviews
Pat Conroy has created a huge, brash thunderstorm of a novel, stinging with honesty and resounding with drama. Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister, Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born.
Paperback, 664 pages
Published December 1st 1987 by Bantam Books (first published 1986)
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4.24  · 
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 ·  181,401 ratings  ·  3,924 reviews

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Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
My wound is geography.  It is also my anchorage, my port of call.

So begins the story of the Wingo family of Melrose Island in Colleton County, South Carolina. As told by Tom Wingo.  

To describe our growing up in the lowcountry of South Carolina, I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation, scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, “There.  Tha
I'm wearing my softest, fuzziest slippers while writing this review - treading as lightly as I possibly can - realising that I'm on holy ground here, discussing a much beloved book among many of my very dear and respected Goodreads friends. PLEASE, DON'T HATE ME!

This book was at a disadvantage from the beginning, because the spectres of Babs and Nick haunted me continuously from the horrendous movie adaptation. However, I was fully expecting to love and revel in this big, romantic, Southern fami
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that is the reason I read anything at all for pleasure. I decided I was going to read it before the movie came out and COMPLETELY fell in love with Conroy's style, renewed my love-affair with the low country of South Carolina, and discovered the joy of diving into a book wholeheartedly. Mr. Conroy is the reason I read today. The stories of what this family went through are heartbreaking at one (or more) moment(s) and hysterical at others. I didn't think the movie was half-bad, b ...more
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Riptide
In Southern English, "naked" means you ain't got no clothes on, while "nekkid" means you ain't got no clothes on and you're up to something.
Lewis Grizzard

Clip of the 3 kids in film version of novel
"Man wonders but God decides
When to kill the Prince of Tides."
A verse from the eponymous poem by Savannah Wingo, the suicidal sister and renowned poet in Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, a novel dealing on its surface with the general mentality of the Southern United States, particula
Passion swells for this epic, The Prince of Tides, and so I swim in murky waters here, careful in my criticism not to become The Princess of Against the Tides.

Ah, hell. Who am I kidding? This princess often swims against the tide and her upper body is strong.

So, let me not mince words. Let's get right to it.

Pat Conroy has almost as many devotees as Jesus. I'm not sure about the source of the appeal, but he looks like a jolly gnome in the pictures I've seen of him, and I take him for a man who sh
Matthew Klobucher
Jun 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Pat Conroy's prose is tragically acquainted with all the misery and glory and pain and beauty of humanity. It is also deeply entrenched in the American south. I believe he immortalizes his own time and place the way Hemingway did for wartime Europe. This story, so startlingly brutal and direct in it's engagement of the reader, lays out the impressive and failed life of Tom Wingo. The plain good virtue and astonishing cruelty of small-town South Carolina take shape in an uneasy and inevitable con ...more
I can't remember the last time I felt this torn; I hated the characters for being so selfish with their affections, so cowardly in their confrontations, the cruelty shown when the moment was theirs for the taking. What I hated more was when the victim on the receiving end - and, to be fair, it always rotates - would rise up in anger, but then crumble to their knees in love and forgiveness.

And that's also why I loved them. In one moment they felt so betrayed, so dishonored by blood and by love.
Apr 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really did not intend to read The Prince of Tides anytime soon until a couple avid reading friends told me I should not pass it by......and they were so right!

If you've seen the movie, you already know this is an unforgettable and disturbing story set in both the South Carolina low country and New York City about an extremely dysfunctional family with abusive father Henry and complacent mother Lila whose children are traumatized by their treatment during childhood.......but while Henry's bruta

Debbie Zapata
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturdaymx
This book was, like all of Conroy's titles, intensely gripping, humorous at times, coarse and gruesome at others, with more than a few touches of sheer poetry scattered everywhere.

Conroy excels at describing tortured family life; in this case the Wingos of South Carolina. Through narrator Tom's eyes, we learn about his parents, his older brother Luke, and his twin sister Savannah. Rarely does one family have so much happening: whether drama comes from inside the family circle or from without, it
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm waiting for the day that Pat Conroy will disappoint me. I'm waiting for the day that he fails to astound me, to take my breath away with each poetically seductive word that he has chosen, to stir emotions deep within me that I only feel and understand when I am reading his literature.

I am pertinaciously confident that that day will never come.
Anna Ligtenberg
May 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
After years of reading predominantly great reviews of this book, I finally read it, only to wonder why everyone was raving. Perhaps Pat Conroy explained it himself, when he wrote "Savannah's living proof that writing poetry and reading books causes brain damage." I found myself skipping entire pages of pointless description and only skimming the entire "children's book" written by Savannah.

Most of the momentous events of the story require the reader to accept the most unbelievable things (Bengal
Glenn Sumi
Oy gevalt. I think this is a case of a book not aging well. Back in the 80s, this novel was an enormous bestseller and (if I recall) was pretty well received critically too. And, of course, it was made into a lavish movie starring Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte.

But holy sun, stars and moon... this thing is wildly, extravagantly overwritten. Perhaps it needs to be appreciated in its context. Stories of abuse weren't as common back then as they were to be later, so it must have been considered b
There is just too much wrong with this book for me to give it more than two stars. Of course, this merely reflects my personal view.

What went wrong for me?

Too many topics are covered with inadequate depth. The central theme is physical abuse in a family. How does this affect family members for the rest of their lives? This central theme is expanded to touch upon patriotism, the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, environmentalism, rape, sexism, feminism, psychiatry, religion, drugs, finally ending wit
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book came highly recommended to me by a coworker. This novel, however, is the most absurdly sentimental and overwrought book I have picked up in many moons. It's hard to describe the feeling of rolling one's eyes for 567 pages. For example, a priest does not just pray with a soldier - instead, "The priest knelt beside my father and they prayed together, priest and warrior transfigured by moonlight, by warfare, destiny, and the urgent, mysterious, and ineffable cries and secrets of souls tur ...more
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, audiobook
I almost didn't read this one because I have seen the movie numerous times and really didn't care to read about the romance of a small town coach and a big city psychiatrist.


Tragic and humorous. Shocking and touching. Brutal and tender. Honest and delusional. Love, fear, unadulterated hatred and inconceivable forgiveness are all combined in an eloquently written novel.

Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I read a lot of different genres. My only goal is to be entertained. I'll read horror in the hope that there is an author out there who can still shock me. I'll read fantasy or science fiction in the hope that some author will blow my mind with an incredible world or amazing life forms. I'll read suspense thrillers in the hope that there is still an author that will break the mould and twist a plot line so unexpectedly that it will keep me awake at night.
Those are the things I look for, and the
I don't understand why this book gets rave reviews. I made it through the nearly 600 pages, but I can't say that I enjoyed most of it. Here is a random excerpt: "I tasted the wine and it was so robust and appealing that I could feel my mouth singing with pleasure when I brought the glass from my lips. The aftertaste held like a chord on my tongue; my mouth felt like a field of flowers. The mousse made me happy to be alive." Give me a break. Am I supposed to believe all of this? I felt like the n ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about Tom Wingo and his belated attempts to come to grips with his abusive childhood. His sister has made yet another suicide attempt, and Tom comes to New York to see her and speak to her psychiatrist. They both have never mentally healed from their abusive childhood. Half of this story is flashbacks of their upbringing, which was full of mental and physical abuse.

I loved the first 200 or so pages. After that, it felt like trying to swim in molasses. This one is near 700 pages,
Even though I have read this book twice I just purchased it on Amazon Kindle so I can read it again
My husband and I listened to THE PRINCE OF TIDES on Sirius radio while driving across Eastern Canada. This was was our introduction to the well known and loved author, Pat Conroy.

The beginning of my love affair with the work of Pat Conroy was this intense, dramatic, passionate, sad and humorous story.

Pat Conroy introduced the audiobook THE PRINCE OF TIDES and praised Frank Muller for fantastic job he did reading this story. Mr. Muller changed his voice for the narrator and different characters
I just don't even know what to say.... "Epic" would be the understatement of the century.

This has got to be one of the most f*cked up family stories I've ever read/listened to. Right off the bat, that works in the authors favor because I tend to like books that can really shock me. What an insane imagination Pat Conroy has and his writing is pure poetry . I had to stop my audiobook so many times and rewind it just so I could jot down some of his more beautifully crafted metaphors and descripti
Theresa Alan
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time I’ve listened to the audiobook of this wonderful novel. The narrator does a phenomenal job. The first time I listened to it was several years ago when I was commuting to work, and there is one scene that had me bawling my guts out, which is super embarrassing when you’re in heavy traffic on the highway.

In the story, poet Savanah has attempted suicide again. While she is in a mental hospital recovering, her brother Tom comes up to New York from South Carolina to check on h
Bob Mayer
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently re-read this after many years. First, Pat Conroy is one hell of a writer. His prose is lyrical. I always say if Jimmy Buffet can set your words to music (The white porpoise comes to me at night, singing in the river of time . . .) then you are a heck of a writer.

His books have so many plots it's always interesting to see the film adaptation.

Te only thing that strikes me is how over the top every plot line is. Nothing ordinary ever happened to a Wingo. Or to any of Conroy's characters.
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-deals
I’d like to apologize for deleting the comment thread in my overzealousness to update my edition from Hardcover to Kindle. I love comments, and I can assure you I don’t go around deleting comments just for the hell of it. In fact, my wife and I had a conversation recently about how thrilled I was to receive multiple comments before I’d even read this book and written the review, and then I go and accidentally delete said comments. If they gave out awards for accidental stupidity, I’d be on the n ...more
Maureen Brunner
If you are interested in reading novels with vibrant descriptions of the southeastern US, Conroy is a good bet.

I gave it three stars mostly because of the wrap up of the plot and the ending. It fell flat and was depressing. Although the protagonist Tom represented a complex and thoughtful narrator in the beginning of his tale, I was unhappy with his adult self, the decisions he made, his attitude towards life, and the consequences of his decisions.

At the onset of the story, the author begins b
Janet Ollman
Jun 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all my friends
My favorite novels are written by Irish authors or authors from America's South. "Mama won't read that's too uplifting!!!" O.K., I have been accused of liking novels with a darker side. Guilty as charged. The theme of Prince of Tides is indeed dark...but oh, the beauty of the words that Pat Conroy weaves together. He is a Master of Words. On page one, his words grab you and he won't let you escape until the final page. Pat Conroy begins, "My wound is my geography. It is also my anchor ...more
Heather Neill
This book. Is stunning.

Pat Conroy is a genius. One of the main characters is a poet, and excerpts from her work are brilliant. How many time have you cringed when otherwise talented writers of fiction attempted to include the "poetry" of their characters? No cringing here. if you can, listen to this book on audio, narrated by Frank Muller. Holy crap. He turns a near perfect novel into a masterpiece. I am not exaggerating.
What a grand and Great book. Please read this and enjoy
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those wanting to read a beautifully, intelligently, witty written family story
When I started Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides I expected to get a good read based on the accolades Conroy’s books have gotten. What I didn’t expect was how much I loved the book. It really took me by surprise how much I got into the story and enjoyed reading the tumultuous, horrible, quirky and loving lives of the Wingo family.

Much of the credit goes to Conroy’s wonderful writing and narration. It’s was interesting how the writing was very poetic and lyrical but still had this casualness which mad
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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
“You get a little moody sometimes but I think that's because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up.” 8079 likes
“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.” 114 likes
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