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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. Filled with the vanishing beauty of th 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. Filled with the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina low country as well as the dusty glitter of New York City, The Prince of Tides is PAT CONROY at his very best.


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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. Filled with the vanishing beauty of th 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. Filled with the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina low country as well as the dusty glitter of New York City, The Prince of Tides is PAT CONROY at his very best.

30 review for The Prince of Tides

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    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 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 family epic. I didn't. There, I said it. I didn't love it, I didn't enjoy it. I am bewildered how I received this book so off the mark from legions of other readers. If you love this book, please just laugh and disregard my review and keep on loving it. My first problem is that I found it incredibly sentimental, with prose as purple as can be. An example: He was tall and thin and had a complexion like goat cheese left on the table too long. The funeral parlour smelled like dead flowers and unanswered prayers. And another: 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. I also found a very weird, incestuous tone cropped up dozens of times throughout the book. This is a book in which sisters kiss their brothers on the lips, where a brother carries his sister "like a bride", where a mother tells a son if she was younger she'd "have a go" at him, where a father chases "lewdly" after his daughter after she shows him her budding breasts. And so on, and so forth, and I could come up with many more examples. Once I started noticing the weirdness, I just couldn't stop. It gave me "the no feeling". I found the dialogue to be horrid - characters constantly used each other's names in almost every line of dialogue. "Are you enjoying this Tom?" "Lowenstein, I really am not." "Oh, Tom, Tom, but why not?" "I wish I knew, Lowenstein." "TOM!" "Lowenstein!!!!" Once I noticed it, it was impossible not to notice it, and cringe. I felt like I was watching a terrible 1980s movie most of the time, with a showy, cinematic predictability. And, believability went out the window with the TIGER. For goodness' sakes!!! A very poor shrimping boat family has a Bengal tiger in their barn? Finally, the love story between Tom and Lowenstein did nothing for me. She wasn't particularly likeable (and so unprofessional, I might add!). So much build up leading to their relationship and then the sex scene was chaste enough to fit in a Stephenie Meyer book. BOO. And the way it ended was over the top, cheesy. Now that I've complained mercilessly (and I apologise for that), I will say one thing Pat Conroy does consistently well, and which I appreciated, is convey his love for the American South: its beauty, its vibrancy, its imperfections and uniqueness. The South, in particular Colleton, South Carolina, is the main character and anchor to the rest of the players in the story. The sense of place and its tidal pull on the Wingo family is indelible and irresistible. That is where the gold lies.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    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 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.  That taste.  That’s the taste of my childhood.”  I would say, “Breathe deeply,” and you would breathe and remember that smell for the rest of your life, the bold, fecund aroma of tidal marsh, exquisite and sensual, the smell of the South in heat, a smell like new milk, semen, and spilled wine, all perfumed with seawater.  My soul grazes like a lamb on the beauty of indrawn tides.   Tom has a twin sister Savannah and as the story opens Savannah, a successful poet, who lives in New York City has just attempted to end her life by slashing her wrists with a razor blade.  This is not the first time.  He also has an older brother Luke who he idolizes, but Luke is not there as this story opens and to understand why, why his sister is barely clinging with frightening, frailty to life, why his big brother is not present; well, then we have to go back.  Back to when they were children, Back to when Lila and Henry, their parents, controlled the great tides of their life.   It is not a pretty picture. The Wingos of Melrose island were an intensely disturbing, dysfunctional family.  Their three children survived a brutal upbringing, one that they were not allowed ever to discuss or even acknowledge; isolated from the neighbouring community of Colleton, with only each other to turn to for strength, support and comfort.  Their bond seemed unbreakable. Still there is beauty here: It was growing dark on this long southern evening and suddenly, at the exact point her finger had indicated, the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils.  Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold…...The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, the depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks.  The moon then rose quickly, rose like a bird from the water, from the trees, from the islands, and climbed straight up - gold, then yellow, then pale yellow, pale silver, silver - bright, then something miraculous, immaculate, and beyond silver, a color native only to southern nights. These days Tom Wingo is a family man himself with a beautiful wife and three beautiful daughters but he can feel it all slipping away.  He used to be a teacher and a coach, work that he loved, but that was before Luke.  Now he cannot seem to bring himself to give his wife the intimacy she craves, he wants to, but it is like he is frozen, unable to get himself in motion.  He knows even before his wife confirms it, that he is losing her.  Perhaps their time apart, while he is in New York City trying to help his sister will give them both an opportunity to reflect and come to terms with what they really want.   It is in New York that Tom meets Susan Lowenstein, Savannah’s psychiatrist and at her urging turns back the hands of time as he relates the events of their childhood in a last ditch effort to help Lowenstein understand the trauma that may go a long way in explaining Savannah’s suicide attempts and her current mental state. It is the beginning of a long and uncanny season in the house of Wingo.  There will be honor and decency and the testing of the qualities of our humanity, or the lack of them.  There will be a single hour of horror that will change our lives forever.  There will be carnage and murder and ruin.  When it is over, we will all think that we have survived the worst day of our lives, endured the most grisly scenario the world could have prepared for us.  We will be wrong. Violence sends deep roots into the heart; it has no seasons; it is always ripe, evergreen. There will also be Luke, our Prince of Tides. Luke’s story however is one you would be well advised to read for yourselves. But there is also a Bengal tiger and whales and a rare white porpoise and the South Carolina low country.  There is sadness and brutality yes, but also adventure and mirth and heart swelling love; all wrapped up in Conroy’s luscious, lyrical, haunting prose. Later when we spoke of our childhood, it seemed part elegy, part nightmare. I am sure a great many of you have likely already seen the movie with Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte, which was great.  I loved it!   You may be thinking why should I read the book when I already know the story?   Why? Because there is so much more story here and because it is so beautifully written that it brings tears to my eyes and my chest feels oddly swollen, just remembering some of Conroy’s passages.  The movie cannot even begin to compare or compete.   All The Stars in The Sky!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    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 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, but the book is phenomenal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    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 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 shook hands vigorously at book signings. Okay, so he was affable (I'm not entirely sure; you'd need to ask Wife #1, Wife #2 or Wife #3 how she felt about him), and I enjoy affable types, but I'm not sure why more attention hasn't been placed on some of the damnable mistakes in his writing. First off, Mr. Conroy is incredibly inconsistent. He'll write something lovely and memorable, like, “when we spoke of our childhood, it seemed part elegy, part nightmare.” Or, “I was the son of a beautiful, word-struck mother and I longed for her touch many years after she had no obligation to touch me.” And then he'll carry on for eons with some overly wordy, barely readable prose. I would struggle, page after page, reading these “rants,” which felt almost like the long-winded stories my children tell me, as I drive them home from school. You know, the stories that feel as though they have no punctuation, no beginning or ending, and require the storyteller to say them all in one breath? Also, um. . . ahem, anyone else made uncomfortable by Tom's mother wanting to make out with him and both brothers wanting to hook up with their sister? Who is this guy, John Irving? And, last but not least, the dialogue. For the love of God, come on, now! Even if you love this book, I ask you to return to it and read about 20 pages of the dialogue. Truly, do me this favor, before you deem me “harsh.” Clearly, this was not Mr. Conroy's strength as a writer, and, luckily he is more prone to descriptive narrative than passages of dialogue, but whenever it occurred, it pulled me right out of the story. Quick example: “Where ya going, Tom?” “Nowhere, Savannah. I'm going nowhere, Savannah.” “But did ya want to, Tom? Did you want to go somewheres, Tom?” “Nah, Savannah. But ya know what, Savannah? I'm hungry, Savannah.” I'm telling you, I've read better dialogue produced in short stories by high school freshmen. So. . . what made this story all the rage? Was it the occasionally beautiful prose? The imagery? I experienced some of that. Was it the focus that was placed on the need for men to pursue mental/emotional support? I liked that, too. Men need mental health outlets as much as women do, and I hate that our society has long made it taboo for them to seek it. Was this book instrumental in shifting mindsets? I don't know. I do know that the movie did nothing to help my reading experience. I thought (almost relentlessly) of Barbra Streisand's acrylic nails and Nick Nolte's hair in his famous mugshot, as I was reading it. And, worse than that, I pictured Nick Nolte's mouth, slack from overdosing, whispering to Streisand's lacquered nails. . . Lowenstein. . . Lowenstein. Hard to get past that, though it's not the book's fault. So, back to the book. Most Conroy diehards tell me that Tides isn't their favorite; it's typically The Great Santini, when I ask. I'd be happy to receive Conroy suggestions, and I'd be open minded toward another read. This was just surprisingly disappointing to me. Three stars, says the Princess Against the Tides. . . three stars for some great one-liners, a fantastic title, and the book's long-lasting, cultural impact.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    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, 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, particularly of the region's male gender. Conroy's protagonist Tom Wingo gives a first person account of the heart-stinging story of the Wingo family of the South Carolina coast, primarily to his sister's NYC therapist in an attempt to save sis's life after a second suicide attempt. The novel provides fertile ground for delving deeply into conflicts among family members, the steadfastness of the grandfather's religious beliefs, marital infidelity (wounds and healing), the bonds between siblings and the lifelong scars left by a parent's physical and mental abuse and by a barbarous rape. The story is also a serenade to our need for amore', and the irony that humans, so capable of loving friends, family and mates, can also show more savagery than any other species to our own species and to our environment. Through the contrast between New York City and a fishing village on the Carolina coast, Conroy examines these issues in a superb self-reflective way, showing that we can find love anywhere, when we least expect it and with someone we initially see as so different; and, love will follow us wherever we go, so long as we let it. Splendorous and distinctly Southern.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Before I wrote this, I took a cursory look at a few of the reviews and realized to my dismay that in this case I am the Grinch who took the roast beast. And yet I stand by my rating because this book was for me an exercise in maudlin pablum. The protagonist experiences all matter of tragedy in his youth, both quotidian and bizarre (an abusive wretch of a father, a venal socially climbing mother, a horrific yet nonsensical assault) and then grows up to have a mentally ill sister and a cheating wi Before I wrote this, I took a cursory look at a few of the reviews and realized to my dismay that in this case I am the Grinch who took the roast beast. And yet I stand by my rating because this book was for me an exercise in maudlin pablum. The protagonist experiences all matter of tragedy in his youth, both quotidian and bizarre (an abusive wretch of a father, a venal socially climbing mother, a horrific yet nonsensical assault) and then grows up to have a mentally ill sister and a cheating wife. There's also some mystery about his brother's fate but I won't spoiler it for you (hint: it's nonsensical too.) The aforementioned sister has suffered a breakdown which takes him from South Carolina to NYC where he meets her therapist. There, he tells the story of their life to nice therapist lady with lines like, "I haven't gotten to the worst part yet. I haven't told you about the time they picked up and MOVED my hometown, Doctor. Ahem, sniff sniff." Yes that scene is in the book. At some point he hooks up with the therapist. She has a snooty violinist husband. That is the highlight reel. Now you don't have to read this book. De nada. (I'm not completely heartless. The story about the pet tiger choked me up a little. Wait-a pet tiger in South Carolina? In the 1940's? See I told you this book was freaking ridiculous. By the way, I read this around the same time the movie came out and told a friend who had seen it I hated the book but the part with the tiger was sad. She said, "Tiger??") I have heard that The Great Santini was a better Conroy book and I did like the movie version of it. Then again, people seem to like this book too. So for now, I'll go back to stuffing the Who's Xmas tree up the chimney.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Klobucher

    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 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 connection, vying ferociously with the complicated sadness of modernity. This book is treacherous and difficult, wounding at the very threshold of a happy or cathartic moment, and while it is not always pleasant to read, it is provocative and cathartic. It is an angry and sensitive book, dedicated to an ideal of America and made up of terrific stories. It is all tied together in the structure of a novel, and ends up being well worth the read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    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 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 brutality would leave a lasting impression on all their lives, it is nothing compared to the scary as hell seven-foot giant who would forever terrorize Luke, Tom and his twin sister Savannah. (I can still see him starring in their window)Despite all the dark hidden secrets that eventually come to light, this emotional story reveals some good times and laughable moments too......like grandmother Tolitha's episode inside the casket.....and Henry's fried "Alpo" dog dinner, (my favorite) and combined with Tom's sarcastic wise-crack humor and close, loving relationship with his siblings, the jesting does help to lighten the severity of horrors endured and tragedy of loss. While the book is centered around Savannah's insanity and treatment by Dr. Susan Lowenstein, their very disturbing childhoods are narrated by Tom who hopes to bring his sister back from her world of demons and silence.Except for bits of animal cruelty here and there (that I abhor) this is an incredible story and extraordinary novel. I remember the movie being quite good, but the book in comparison has much more detail and is IMHO exceptional.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    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. 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. Then would wait five minutes, and forgive them because of who they were..family. The parents who brutalized but also showed beauty, the siblings that both threw each under the bus and saved them from it, and the hometown that treated them like nothing more than low-rent scrubs. And all those in-betweens: the hits, the tragedies, the shining moments, the crimes so unspeakable it leaves the reader wondering if there really is God...they stream in and out of life, the yellow & red threads in life's tapestry. I've read other reviews on this book, and I think 75% of them got it wrong. While the location is in South Carolina, and the southern culture itself becomes a character in it, that town feeling, that family feeling - that can be anywhere. And finally, even had I not been utterly entranced by Conroy's writing style, I never would have wished for one page less.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna Ligtenberg

    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 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 tiger...) as facts of life for the Wingos, but the children's book crosses a line; this book within the book is only horrific in that it's a book no publisher would have published because it's a book that no parent would ever have let their child read. Throughout the real book, beginning with Tom's reference to his daughters' "lovely, perfectly shaped behinds" to the children's book and all the way to the end, there's a tinge of incest and inappropriate sex to everything that leaves me needing a shower. I'm giving the book 2 stars because I think the story, buried under way too many words, is an interesting one - it's just too hard to find most of the time. - AnnaLovesBooks

  11. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    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 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 finds these children and their parents and puts them all through hell. I've read enough Conroy to know that his childhood was nearly as tortured as Tom Wingo's. I admire the courage it must have taken to face his own demons in the way he had to in order to write any of his books. Perhaps it was a necessary step to understanding his own life and the past moments that made him who he was. That is the way things turned out for Tom Wingo, so why not for Pat Conroy also?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    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 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 bold and brave. And Conroy's descriptions of the South Carolina lowlands are still beautifully evocative, if excessive. That said, I didn't believe any of the characters: football coach Tom, his suicidal twin sister Savannah, a Sylvia Plath-like poet, and especially not Savannah's New York Jewish psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. (Don't get me started on Lowenstein's concert violinist husband.) Even after the big emotional climax, which (let's be honest, here) we've seen coming for at least 250 pages, there's lots to go. The pacing is way off in the final 50 pages. And despite the length of the thing, there are many, many unanswered questions. I interviewed Conroy once, and he was the nicest, sweetest, most charming guy imaginable. RIP, sir. You entertained a lot of people with your stories. I hope your other books are a little bit subtler in their effects.

  14. 5 out of 5

    W

    So far,I've read three books by Pat Conroy.There are some common elements in each : Dysfunctional family,abusive father,difficult childhood,traumatic events and even suicide. This is the story of the Wingo family of South Carolina. Henry Wingo is a fisherman,who squanders whatever little money he has on farcical business schemes.His wife is Lila,who is his victim but also a manipulator. Tom Wingo,their child is the narrator.He has had a nervous breakdown,while his sister Savannah is recovering from So far,I've read three books by Pat Conroy.There are some common elements in each : Dysfunctional family,abusive father,difficult childhood,traumatic events and even suicide. This is the story of the Wingo family of South Carolina. Henry Wingo is a fisherman,who squanders whatever little money he has on farcical business schemes.His wife is Lila,who is his victim but also a manipulator. Tom Wingo,their child is the narrator.He has had a nervous breakdown,while his sister Savannah is recovering from a suicide attempt. The family has one particularly tragic day in their past,when they were all traumatised.They would all like to forget what happened that day. And if that were enough,Tom's older brother Luke is dead.The circumstances of his death are gradually revealed. So,there is a lot of doom and gloom.But Pat Conroy also has a fine sense of humour,and it makes an appearance every now and then,to lighten things up.At times,the prose is lyrical. It became a movie as well,with Barbara Streisand and Nick Nolte.Having seen some youtube clips,the choice of Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo didn't appeal to me.But it's good to see Barbara Streisand. It is indeed "a huge thunderstorm of a novel",as the publisher's introduction states. Pat Conroy writes beautifully,he has a way with words and this is a terrific book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    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 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 with the strength of family ties and love of home, that is to say where you grow up. I question the view that in a family all can be forgiven. I am uncomfortable with the view that “home” can be just one place. I do understand that Pat Conroy, the author, felt a deep love and tie to the South Carolinian lowlands. He describes them movingly. This I did appreciate. The Wingo family is ripped apart by physical abuse. There are three siblings – Luke and two twins, Tom and Savannah. Savannah ends up in psychiatric care. It is not just her though that is scarred! I was intrigued by the characters’ different ways of dealing with their abuses. I found the writing overblown - too ripe, too syrupy, too cloying, too sentimental. Events are too cinematic, too melodramatic. The end too (view spoiler)[sweet, too forgiving (hide spoiler)] . Some events are just ridiculous. A (view spoiler)[tiger (hide spoiler)] as a pet! Give me a break. I like books fixed in reality. It is ridiculous and then predictable when Tom first threatens to dump the psychiatrist's (view spoiler)[husband's violin out the window, and then finally has sex with her, the psychiatrist! (hide spoiler)] Don't all patients (view spoiler)[fall in love with their psychiatrists? This is a hazard of the profession that must be avoided at all costs, and yet it happens here. It is beside the point that it is Tom’s twin who is the so-called patient. The question is who really is the one getting psychiatric help! The book doesn’t explain at all how Savannah is cured. (hide spoiler)] A book of this length has to have a love affair. So sentimental that Luke agrees (view spoiler)[to surrender but then is shot while looking one more time at their old home (hide spoiler)] . I said the writing was overblown. The audiobook narration by Frank Muler further exaggerates the writing. Many listeners love that. I don’t. Yet I must agree that he captures well the cool, detached voice so typical for a psychiatrist and also Tom’s snide wisecracks. He captures the tone of the author’s words. In the introduction to the audiobook the author says himself he thinks the narrator did a marvelous job, and he wrote the book so that does mean something. The book simply isn’t my cup of tea. ************************************* Halfway through: I am a yo yo....... The Prince of Tides has captured my interest now. I am about halfway through. No question, the writing is over the top, but two things are great. First of all I really want to understand this family. I need to understand the familial relationships and why they are who they are. The protagonists' adult and childhood selves fascinate me. I am beginning to understand who Tom and who Savannah really are. Tom's self-assurance and joking is only skin deep. And their Mom, she demands to be understood too. All of them in fact. What I like is that these are complicated individuals. Secondly, Conroy deliciously depicts the feel of the Carolina lowlands, the islands, the shrimpers, the sea and the social stratum there in the 50s. Here the melodrama and the overly descriptive writing work wonderfully. I felt I was there on the shrimp boats. I am seeing both sides of their youth, the good and the bad. I think I am just a baby - the section about the monstrous "Callanwolde" scared me to death! It put me off. It led me to believe that I was reading merely a horror story. Now I find that I am being given a book about human relationships. A book that focuses on character portrayal. I also like the sharp contrast between the New York and Carolina worlds, and what this says about the different milieus. I am a country person. I love the sea, but I have also lived in NYC. I immediately recognize the city's magic pull. Think if I had stopped?! No, this is good. ********************************** In chapter 6 (5 hours completed of a total 22hours and 41 minutes): Phew, this is a struggle. The telling is disjointed, jumping between NYC, Alabama and coastal small-town South Carolina. Europe too. The language fluctuates between beautiful and overly dramatic. At points too wordy, too melodramatic. I may have seen the movie years and years ago and suppressed the whole experience. The author introduces the audiobook by praising Frank Muler's narration. I prefer employing my own imagination. The violence - is it movingly told or too extreme? That no one has classified this as horror surprises me. Last night I decided to dump it. This morning I have decided to continue.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    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 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 things that will make me rate a book five stars. But underlining all of this, is the most important thing of all. Keep me engaged with a great story with great characters. Well, obviously you can see the five star rating here, so you know what the deal is. The Prince of Tides is one of the best novels I've read in a long time. It's not horror or otherworldly or has an urgent hunt on for a homicidal lunatic. This is simply a family drama, about a South Carolina man whose twin sister has attempted suicide. The story follows Tom as he travels to New York City to discuss his sister's state with her psychologist and he relates their childhood to her in the hopes that she can better understand her patient. My kindle edition had this listed as 647 pages, but I would imagine the print edition had the words densely packed as this seemed longer than that. Not to say this was a slog, because the story was very difficult to put down. This is simply a big book! Pat Conroy is a master storyteller. His dysfunctional southern hick family has all the quirkiness you would want, and all the sensitivities you would expect from close knit siblings. The quality of writing and sheer engaging quality of the narrative is something you would expect from Stephen King if he was a straight fiction writer. The best thing I can say about any novel is that I am sorry it is finished. I loved being into it. An easy five stars and highly recommended to anyone.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    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 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 turned inward upon themselves." Another example: it feels as though the author thought up some great descriptions and wanted to use up as many as he could on each character just to tick them off his list. Here's an example of an undertaker who is in the story for all of 15 pages (at most): "Winthrop Ogletree...was tall and thin and had a complexion like goat cheese left on the table too long. The funeral parlor smelled like dead flowers and unanswered prayers [???]. When he wished us a good day, his voice was reptilian and unctuous and you knew he was only truly comfortable in the presence of the dead. He looked as if he had died two or three times himself in order to appreciate better the subtleties of his vocation. Winthrop Ogletree had the face of an unlucky vampire who never received an adequate portion of blood." Okay, okay, OKAY! Got it! And these quotes don't even demonstrate the excessive sentimentality of every emotion being stretched to its utmost. Did I hate every page? No, of course not. It had compelling story lines. I just felt like I was running through molasses to get anywhere.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    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. This book is SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE MOVIE!!!! 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Merritt

    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 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 novel was really over the top and long. And the ending... bah.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    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 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 descriptions. Not to mention the huge list of vocabulary words I was constantly cross-referencing with Websters! But I found it a pleasure rather than a hindrance. The story itself, admittedly for me, started it out slow. But I truly placed my faith in the people that recommended this to me and carried on with it. A third of the way though, I was fully hooked. Of course, Frank Muller narrating the whole thing with all of his fabulous southern accents and voice variations served only to further hypnotize me. When I was tuned into The Prince of Tides I was under a spell. So, so many memorable scenes will stay with me. Hilarious scenes, outrageous scenes, deeply disturbing scenes.... it's all there if you're willing to take a ride on the tides with the Wingos. And I highly recommend you do, with Frank Muller manning the boat. That said, through these pages, I think I've seen as much of the south as I care to. Check that off the bucket list!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    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, 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, but 200 to 300 pages of decriptives could have been cut out with no difference made in the plot. Whole pages could be skipped at a time with no effect, and by the end I skipped a lot of pages. My stubbornness will often not let me DNF a book. This is my first Conroy novel, but I do not feel impressed enough to give him a second try. The descriptiveness is overdone, and I hear he writes of the same subjects repetitively, which is just not for me. Contains offensive racial slurs, profanity and a descriptive rape scene. Contains many incestuous undertones. A positive note though, this abusive family may make you feel a lot better that maybe your upbringing was not so bad after all.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Negin

    Pat Conroy never disappoints! I loved this book. The writing is gorgeous. The story is riveting and had me laughing and crying. Parts of the story are truly painful and raw at times. Those descriptions are not for the faint of heart. Once you get past that, the story is incredibly powerful and moving. Conroy’s rich descriptions of the south make me want to visit there more than ever before. I loved his description of Stone Mountain in Georgia. The characters are superb to the point where I am mi Pat Conroy never disappoints! I loved this book. The writing is gorgeous. The story is riveting and had me laughing and crying. Parts of the story are truly painful and raw at times. Those descriptions are not for the faint of heart. Once you get past that, the story is incredibly powerful and moving. Conroy’s rich descriptions of the south make me want to visit there more than ever before. I loved his description of Stone Mountain in Georgia. The characters are superb to the point where I am missing them so very much. For me, that’s a sign of a phenomenal book. I feel bad for the next book I plan to read, because Pat Conroy’s books are a hard act to follow. I have not seen the movie and am not sure if I really want to. Some of my favorite quotes: “No one has the patent on human suffering. People hurt in different ways and for different reasons.” “Love has no weapons; it has no fists. Love does not bruise, nor does it draw blood.” “A psychiatrist oblivious to money is like a sumo wrestler oblivious to body fat.” “Has there ever been anyone who lived in New York City who didn’t see a therapist?” I asked. “I mean, there must have been some poor schnook who changed planes at La Guardia who didn’t have time to make it to the Upper East Side for a fifty-minute session.” “It is an art form to hate New York City properly. So far I have always been a featherweight debunker of New York; it takes too much energy and endurance to record the infinite number of ways the city offends me. Were I to list them all, I would fill up a book the size of the Manhattan yellow pages, and that would merely be the prologue.”

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    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 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 and used lots of expression bringing the story alive. I can easily see why this was a best seller and highly recommend it. 5 stars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    Even though I have read this book twice I just purchased it on Amazon Kindle so I can read it again

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mayer

    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 characte 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. They save the white porpoise; they're born in the storm of the century with the black midwife dying holding on to them; their grandmother travels the world; their grandfather carries a cross through town; the narrator immediately accepts the only black player on the team and runs for a touchdown, etc etc. etc to a point where it's almost numbing. Nevertheless, a highly recommended read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    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 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 made it easy to read and enjoy. Despite the expansive vocabulary (I’ve never had to look up so many words before), it didn’t bogged down the narrative making it difficult for you to want to continue reading. Conroy managed to eloquently convey the complicated relationships and feelings of the family at the heart of this story without having to make you work for it. It also helps that the narration was full of self-deprecating and sarcastic humor from the book’s narrator, Tom Wingo. Imagine my surprise when a couple of paragraphs into my reading when Tom busts out some one liners and having some cheeky conversations with his 3 young daughters who all seem to share the same brand of humor as their dad. While Tom’s humor certainly helped make reading the story fun, it also served to reflect how his childhood has affected him. Through his voice, you come to see that he uses his humor to hide, express and deflect his issues stemming from his childhood. It makes Tom a character that is likeable and sympathetic but never one that you pity in spite of discovering the kind of the life he had growing up in Colleton. Conroy created an interesting family that is at the heart of the story. Through Tom’s eyes you discover a family that’s full of contradictories and pain but has a great capacity for love. Each member of the Wingo family from the parents Henry and Lila to their children, Luke, Savannah and Tom, have their own distinct personalities that oftentimes cause clashes amongst themselves but enables them to understand each other in a way that no one else in their small town can. Their household is a battlefield in of itself and also their haven. As you read through the story, you find yourself often appalled at the behavior of the adults but then something will happen which you begrudgingly feel for them and get a small understanding of what drives them which you end up being like one of their children. You gain a certain love/hate relationship with both Henry and Lila which I suppose is par for the course with many families. Through the Wingo family’s trials and conflicts, Conroy encompassed the best and worst of living in a small Southern town with all the quirks that goes with it. It was a pleasant surprise to have found a book that went beyond my expectations. Conroy wrote a story full of charismatic characters with a complex family dynamic that was filled with both heartache and love. His intelligent, eloquent and witty writing really made reading the book a joy and thoroughly kept me enthralled in Tom’s narrative. This is the sort of book that gradually pulls you in and quietly goes about its job of engaging you. This was an epic family story that didn’t have the feel of one which reflected the contradictory and complex nature of the story itself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    What a grand and Great book. Please read this and enjoy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    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 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 her. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Lowenstein, wants to talk to him to find out about Savanah’s past to see if that can help her help Savanah. So Tom recounts their difficult childhood as the children of an abusive shrimper father and a beauty queen mother who was discontent with motherhood and their poverty. There are several scenes that recount the differences between the poor and the privileged. Through this narrative device of Tom meeting several times with Dr. Lowenstein, Tom tells sprawling stories of their youth. Sometimes it’s almost like you’re reading interconnected short stories, but the writing is masterful, so you don’t mind going on what can seem like tangents. Plus, there is humor, and the siblings (there is also another brother, who is dead by the time we start the novel, but we learn about him as Tom recounts their upbringing) are likeable, complex characters. All the characters are well drawn. The South and history are also characters in the book. Tom himself is in a crumbling marriage, and he screwed up his career as a high school football coach. I love this novel and highly recommend it. It’s my favorite Pat Conroy book. For more of my reviews, please visit: http://www.theresaalan.net/blog

  29. 4 out of 5

    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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Dawn

    3.5 stars

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