Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “South of Broad” as Want to Read:
South of Broad
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

South of Broad

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  40,210 ratings  ·  5,540 reviews
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 teaches science at the local high schoo
Hardcover, 514 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Nan A. Talese
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about South of Broad, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Linda Best book I read in 2016. I found the characters to be rich and perplexing, not at all stereotypical as someone else said. The plot twists and turns l…moreBest book I read in 2016. I found the characters to be rich and perplexing, not at all stereotypical as someone else said. The plot twists and turns like a snake peering at the under layer of humanity's foibles. Damaged souls, galore, but presented with dignity and understanding and a realistic hope of rising above the damage. Interpersonal tension simmers just below the surface. And Conroy's prose is like a Sibelius symphony, lovely and lyrical.(less)
Rachel Harper I gave it a solid 5 stars. I know it's not for everyone, but I felt like this was him saying to us, the people who read everything, "I'm OK now." And …moreI gave it a solid 5 stars. I know it's not for everyone, but I felt like this was him saying to us, the people who read everything, "I'm OK now." And I loved it. (less)
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
1,661 books — 6,958 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
1,210 books — 2,584 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  40,210 ratings  ·  5,540 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of South of Broad
Oct 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sorry, Pat, but I'm abandoning this novel at 25 percent.

Conroy has a lot of Southern charm, but this isn't his best work. The dialogue was too contrived and I wasn't invested in the characters. I did like the Charleston setting and the Bloomsday references, but I hit a wall and decided I need to move on.

Conroy has such a big heart that I feel a bit guilty for not finishing, but my pile of unread books is just too large to linger here. I'll circle back and read more of his novels in the future.
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Lisa Patton
May 05, 2009 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
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: botn, own, 500, 2017, people-mag-rec
I've had this book on my shelf almost since I first joined GoodReads (2012). Pat Conroy recently passed away and he's an author I've never read before, but so glad that I had the chance to start with this one.
Set in Charleston, set between past (1960's) and present (1980s) we follow the group of main characters as we learn how they came to be where they are today. The book opens on Bloomsday (Ulysses fans rejoice!) and the Joyce references don't end there- they are riddled through the pages-- ma
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, audio-book, 2012
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
Will Byrnes
Aug 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
In Pat Conroy’s first novel in 14 years a group of friends comes together as high-schoolers in the late 1960s and they change each others’ lives. Our guide through this ode to friendship is Leopold Bloom King, second son in every sense to a mother who is not only the principal at his high school, but a former nun and an expert on James Joyce. Conroy uses her as a deus ex Ulysses to manipulate her son into meeting, in a 24 hour stretch, the eight friends who form the core of the tale. That day is ...more
Feb 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: set-aside
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
Sep 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive, audio
My first Conroy book, and it won't be my last. Good Southern fiction, and a well-drawn, very eclectic bunch of characters make up the cast. We join them in their high school years as they come of age together amid class struggles and the racial tensions of the 60s.
Mid-point this group of friends goes to San Francisco seeking a missing friend, a gay man named Trevor who is dying of aids. Not only is it the 80s when aids was considered God's revenge, there's also a psycho killer lurking about, ev
Oct 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was the read of the summer for me. I adored it.
Jan 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, audible-cd
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.
May 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
"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
Nov 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
It pains me to poorly review a book that was written so earnestly as Pat Conroy's "South of Broad", but his latest fiasco, earnest or not, is a treacly, feel-nauseous-to-make-you-feel-good 500 page yuck-fest. Nothing rings at all true in it, despite Conroy's best intentions. One critic from Entertainment Weekly said it was a carbon copy of his earlier successful novel "The Prince of Tides", with the city of Charleston, South Carolina substituted as the locale. I can see what the critic was getti ...more
Dec 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jul 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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’
Sep 29, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sorcia Macnasty
Jan 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
I suggested this for one of my book clubs after I spent an afternoon in Charleston on a recent road trip. This was also my first Pat Conroy ( but it will not be my last). I just loved this book. Written from the perspective of Leo King and covers a tumultuous period of 20 years, from 1969 through 1989. As it opens, he is a lonely teenager in the summer between Junior and Senior year of high school. June 16th, Bloomsday, changes everything and it will continue to influence his life for many years ...more
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
May 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, five-stars
It's not often that I give five stars to a book. In my mind that honor is reserved for Anna Karenina, The Grapes of Wrath, Angle of Repose. Why then South of Broad?

Those who have read his novels know of his private hell. His father, Don Conroy, was a Marine who physically and emotionally abused his wife and seven children. In later life, Colonel Conroy loved being "The Great Santini". But Santini took a toll on his children, several (including Pat) attempting suicide and one succeeding. Others d
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Contemporary Adult Fiction Book about Childhood. [s] 3 21 Oct 18, 2019 12:43PM  
Which Pat Conroy Book is Your Favorite 74 344 May 25, 2019 05:30PM  
Play Book Tag: South of Broad, by Pat Conroy; 3 Stars 1 10 May 19, 2019 05:41PM  
To savoir every morsel. 39 141 Nov 05, 2012 08:36AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. South of Broad 2 6 Jun 12, 2012 07:12AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. South of Broad 1 3 Apr 27, 2012 05:46PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Sunday Wife
  • Tell Me A Story: My Life with Pat Conroy
  • Little Altars Everywhere
  • Loving Frank
  • Moonrise
  • Sullivan's Island (Lowcountry Tales, #1)
  • Fault Lines
  • Peachtree Road
  • Family Pictures
  • The Hurricane Sisters (Lowcountry Tales, #9)
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  • Conversations with the Conroys: Interviews with Pat Conroy and His Family
  • The Dutch House
  • Outer Banks
  • The Good Mother
  • Pat Conroy: Our Lifelong Friendship
  • The Giver of Stars
  • The Right Way to Lose a War: America in an Age of Unwinnable Conflicts
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We’ve got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
20 likes · 4 comments
“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” 49 likes
“I was trying to unravel the complicated trigonometry of the radical thought that silence could make up the greatest lie ever told.” 15 likes
More quotes…