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South of Broad

Average Rating 3.5
( 738 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

23 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

Best of the best; conroy's most realized work

SOUTH OF BROAD is set in contemporary Charleston, and follows the life of Leo King and his handful of best friends through the latter half of the last century, roughly the late sixties till the ninties. Like all Conroy novels, this one is full of drama, action and breat...
SOUTH OF BROAD is set in contemporary Charleston, and follows the life of Leo King and his handful of best friends through the latter half of the last century, roughly the late sixties till the ninties. Like all Conroy novels, this one is full of drama, action and breath-taking prose - no other living southern writer compares. It is shorter and faster moving than Prince of Tides or Beach Music, and offers a realistic portrayal of American Catholicism rare in recent literature, all clothed in typical smart-ass Conroy humor.

posted by Jenk88 on April 24, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

???

OK, maybe I just don't "get it", but I'm trying very hard to keep reading this book. I'm maybe a quarter of the way through it and I just cannot get into it. It's not pulling me in at all. The characters seem totally unbelievable to me. What kids who were teens in t...
OK, maybe I just don't "get it", but I'm trying very hard to keep reading this book. I'm maybe a quarter of the way through it and I just cannot get into it. It's not pulling me in at all. The characters seem totally unbelievable to me. What kids who were teens in the late 60's actually talked and acted that way? I'm trying to finish this book because of the other really great reviews, but I have to force myself to pick it up.

posted by Anonymous19 on August 31, 2009

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  • Posted September 1, 2009

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    Must love English!

    I read with interest some of the reviewer's love letters and some of the dismissals about South of Broad. I have not quite finished reading the book, and I have had moments when I felt more like the critic than the transported reader. However, over and over I find myself transported by the beauty and originality of the prose. No one writes like this, and it is to be lamented.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Heartbreaking

    Pat Conroy fans rejoice! You will not be disappointed with South of Broad.

    Conroy delivers us directly to South Carolina with the beauty of his language that creates crystal clear images of Charleston, a town knee-deep in history and tradition. It's so easy to get swept up in his imagery, that even when we are delivered one horrific blow after another, we, along with his characters, find refuge in the streets and rivers that belong to the South. Charleston is not just a place or setting -- it becomes one of the most powerful characters in the story.

    As with previous Pat Conroy's novels, I found myself completely in love with the main character. Leo King is the reason this motley crew bands together and stays together for twenty years. He is not the most handsome, the most athletic, or the most charming. He is real, and he is honest, and he is all heart. Leo's friends answer his prayers with friendships anyone would envy, including me; yet, these same friends who fill the void his brother left, are also the ones that open his eyes to the deepest hurt and heartbreak imaginable.

    One of the things I loved most about this novel was the way the time line flipped back and forth. The story begins in 1969 - how it all began. Then it fast-forwards twenty years into the future - what is to come. We are then brought back to 1969 - how it came to be. Finally, we fast-forward once again to 1989 - wrapping everything up. I've seen this done in other books, but this timeline was done brilliantly.

    South of Broad is Conroy's first novel in 14 years. In that time, a lot has happened in my life, the greatest of which was becoming a mother. Nothing has changed me more than having children. Anyone who knows me understands how I can become so wrapped up in a well written book, that I have trouble with certain content. I can't handle books that show even a hint of child abuse. My heart aches right now, because there was way too much of it in South of Broad. There are certain books that I will not read, no matter how highly recommended, because I know I can't handle them. I should have known that this would be one of those books. All of Pat Conroy's characters are hurt and broken -- The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini. I had fair warning. In the beginning of South of Broad, there are implications, and I couldn't help but take note of them. I feared that Conroy was going to come back around and tie up a loose end, but I became so invested in the rest of the story and the characters, that I had somehow forced myself to forget, or hoped that he was just going to allow the readers to assume the worst. Looking back, I knew Conroy couldn't leave this implication dangling in the wind. He is too thorough, too precise, and his characters are always fully developed, I knew he had to tell us the whole story, and he had to break our hearts to do it.

    I have always said that if a novel can make you feel something - anger, hate, love, fear - it is a success. Pat Conroy conjured up all of these emotions for me with South of Broad. He is my favorite author for a reason. I can still remember where I was sitting - and where my tissues landed - when I read The Water is Wide. All of his books stay with me, and South of Broad will too.

    **From Alison's Book Marks: http://www.alisons-bookmarks.blogspot.com

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

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    South of Broad worth the 14-Year Wait

    Cities are usually the backdrops in a novel contributing to the context and establishing character traits in relation to location. In Pat Conroy's long awaited South of Broad, Charleston, South Carolina is the star, warts and all. The writing is sumptuous, delicate and yet raw in handling the subject matter, a hallmark of Conroy's novels. The story and its characters ring true through his use of weighty true-to-life events of the 70s, 80s and 90s, such as discrimination based on class and race in the South, sexual abuse, suicide, the destructive effects of Hurricane Hugo on Charleston and the AIDS epidemic.

    Charleston may be toured in one day though it would be a cursory visit missing the culture, many layered society and history of this town that is a scant 7.34 square miles. South of Broad references James Joyce's Ulysses, a novel that takes place in a 24-hour period, the same time frame it will take the reader to surrender to this extraordinary tale. The protagonist in Conroy's first novel in 14 years is Leopold Bloom King, named for the central character in Ulysses. His mother, Lindsay, principal of the public High School in Charleston, is a published Joycean scholar.

    South of Broad begins on June 16, 1969 marking the 47th year since the publication of Ulysses, an annual celebration by Joyce fans known as Bloomsday. The storyline evolves from events that occur on this day. Unlikely friendships that last a lifetime are formed. Leo learns that his mother was a Roman Catholic nun, new neighbors move in across the street and a drug bust takes place.

    Leo King is 18 years old and as part of his redemption for possession of cocaine (holding it for a friend but never ratting him out) is in the form of community service tending to antique dealer Harrington Canon and delivering newspapers to Charleston's elite. King's daily delivery route is Conroy's method for introducing and exploring the stunning streets of Charleston, its glorious architecture and well-tended gardens. The early morning rides permit Leo's internal dialogue to introduce readers to the residents of Charleston along with his current state of mind.

    The family and friends of King all have distinct roles and personalities intertwining with each other in expanding and contracting relationships as the book develops. Quirkiness and adherence to the social mores of Charleston are observed and broken among Leo, twins Shena and Trevor Poe, orphans Starla and Niles Whitehead, the elegantly wealthy rarefied high society types only found in the South Chad and Fraser Rutledge and Molly Huger, Ike a football star and son of the new but not well-welcomed Coach Jefferson and Betty, fated to be Ike's wife. In a flash Leo gathers these people to him and has a pronounced effect on their lives as they upon his. Leo moves from being a loner riddled with questions and guilt to the focal point that coalesces this divergent group.

    South of Broad is a big juicy read that Southerners will relate to with a knowing nod. For those of the East and West coasts, and towns in between, Conroy provides a deftly developed glimpse into a rarified portion of the United States that acts as if it indeed seceded from the Union. Conroy's new novel is a love letter to Charleston and a story of undying, unrequited yet sometimes fulfilling romance.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    Classic Conroy

    Pat Conroy has long been one of my favorite authors and this wonderful story of a group of unlikely friends is a good example of why I love to get lost in the world shows me. His love affair with words allows the reader to see and taste and feel Charleston, South Carolina, in her beauty, her dank humidity, her elegance and her mean moods. Mr. Conroy's characters are flawed, as we all are, and evil gets it's due, but, on the whole this is a very sympathetic group from diverse backgrounds who are brought together by one very fine fellow. Throw in murder most foul and a road trip to San Francisco and it is a wholly satisfying story and I only wish Mr. Conroy would write more....there is far too much time between books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    No one writes like Pat Conroy. I just wish he wrote more books, more often! The book is especially appreciated as a resident of the Charleston area and when Mr. Conroy desribes the beauty and charm of the holy city, I beam with pride.

    I savored this book, instead of plowing through it like I did with his Beach Music....my favorite. I did not want the book to end. From the first page, as Leo goes about his paper route, with detailed description of the beauty of Charleston and it's people, I knew this would be no disappointment. The characters were unique,and you were really taken back to that time, the civil rights era, when young people were both innocent and the products of their rightous parents. I could have done without the excursion to California, but thankfully we were soon back in Charleston. Mr.Conroy does not sugar-coat the ugliness in life and some if its characters, but that is not what you are left with inside. You are left with a new understanding of the struggles of people who are "different" and life-long friendship, and of course, the love of Charleston. Please, Mr. Conroy, don't let us wait another fourteen years!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

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    Not the best of Conroy

    I have read Pat Conroy for years and consider him one of my favorite contemporary writers. This novel didn't stack up to my expectations in regards to character development. The writing style is classic Conroy and one that I fully enjoyed. That being said, the plot was exciting at times but became predictable and a bit corny or cliche' toward the end. Overall, it is worth reading but I would not place it at the top of my bookshelf.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Enthralling

    I am constantly thrilled with Pat Conroy's ability to tell a story and to make you care about the characters. I felt like I was walking down the streets of Charleston, SC with him, even though I've never been there. He never ceases to make me laugh out loud and to cry, sometimes in the same sentence. His command of the english language makes it a pure pleasure to read his stories, which draw you in and won't let go, even after the story has ended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2009

    A great read if you love the South and Charleston.

    The characters were very much like Charleston and other old Southern cities. When you read this book, be prepared to immerse yourself in the bygone days of old Charleston and then be dragged into the reality of long overdue changes. The characters and the struggles resonate of today by the dramatic conclusion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

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    Conroy gave me my Charleston High!

    After visiting Charleston once, it has remained in my memory as the place I always want to revisit. Conroy gave me time in the city that I love.
    As a retired English teacher/librarian, I wish that South of Broad had been written while I was in the classroom. There are history lessons in the book as well as many life lessons. I loved the book and could have used the book in my C.R.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2009

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    Lovely...

    An ode to Charleston and a look at the lives of some of its natives and orphans.
    A little wordy for me but lovely words they were...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2009

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    Welcome Back Pat Conroy

    I've been waiting a long time to hear from Pat Conroy. Beach Music is one of my top 5 favorite books of all time so I was extremely excited to get Pat Conroy's latest work.
    Although Beach Music is tough to live up to, this work gave it a run for the money.
    The main character was so engaging that you couldn't help but feel everything he felt throughout the book. There were so many great characters in the book that you really were still hungry to get to know them better even after the books end. Even the characters you were frustrated with became dear to you by the end of the book. Although there is plenty of darkness throughout the book, you see these characters as survivors due to their deep and lasting friendship. I think we can all relate with at least one character if not several and many will seem familiar to you in some fashion. This is a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for great characters, a thrilling plot all while giving you some tough topics to think about.

    The biggest disappointment in the book was that it ended and I am fearful that a similar timeline will pass before he writes another great novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2013

    Steelfur

    He padded in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Challenging

    Terrific character development! Very descriptive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2011

    Loved it

    Many months after reading this, I find myself remembering scenes and characters. A great read.

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  • Posted July 28, 2011

    A great mix of history, fiction, drama, suspense and creativity

    A great read if you can handle some rougher content.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011

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    Good Story, but ...

    some rough content

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

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    Really thouroughly enjoyed this Book!

    So rich in characters and details. A very satisfying read. I had a hard time putting it Down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

    Wonderful read - couldn't put it down

    I love reading his style of prose as it takes what many might consider to be pulp fiction and turns it into literature because the phrases drip from his pen so easily. We often think of literature as the boring old things from our school days but this book comes alive. I loved it!

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  • Posted June 25, 2010

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    very enjoyable

    i like this book alot. the characters were great. i had read some bad reviews and i was surprised, i liked it alot. sometimes it was a little slow moving, but i read it pretty fast. definately would recommend.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

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    Well written, especially good ending

    As a new reader of Pat Conroy's novels, I was impressed by the writing and the well-crafted ending. He certainly did convey a love for the city of Charleston and a look at the many-faceted life in the South. It is one of those stories that I will be thinking about for a while.

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