Susan's Reviews > South of Broad

South of Broad by Pat Conroy
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Feb 27, 2011

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Read in February, 2011

This came recommended by family in Richmond, Virginia. We're all suckers for Pat Conroy's fiction. While I enjoy his books, I've never put him in the same category as Walker Percy, with whom he's compared inexplicably on Wikipedia. Conroy's fiction is more raw (some might say ham-handed), but more ready-for-Hollywood because it's filled with redemption and closure. He lights up his southern characters with nobility, sentimentality, cavalier manners and conversational banter that make all of us, deep-down, long to have ties to the gracious old-timey south that probably never was. There is no question we'd invite Mr. Conroy to dinner, hoping he'd stay for a good, long while.

South of Broad covers much of the same history that the non-fiction "Blood Done Signed My Name" (reviewed here earlier) did. Conroy characteristically confines the novel's racial conflicts to the football field, but he does take a tilt at the upper class racism, prejudices and lines-that-were-not-crossed that went unacknowledged in places like Conroy's Charleston; he pointedly celebrates the crumbling of those old social regimes.

What's left is a tale of high school friends who stay loyal friends, amazingly, into their 40s. So Very Big Chill - with the movie star, the writer, the get the picture.

A good, sentimental, highly improbable book.

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