The publishing event of the season: 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 school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.
From the Hardcover edition.
Pat Conroy's first novel in almost 15 years simultaneously acts as a portrait of a single man, a family, and a city. The man is Leopold Bloom King and the city is Charleston, South Carolina, Conroy's own home town. Leo's father is a high school science teacher, and his mother is that school's principal and a renowned scholar of James Joyce. The defining moment in the lives of these three is the teenage suicide of Leo's older brother, an event which continues to resonate through the relationships of the Kings forever after. Leo eventually finds solace with an eclectic mix of high school friends who challenge the racist traditions of Charleston during the tumultuous 1960s. Two decades later, the same stubborn spirit and determined individuality which allowed the friends to break down the oppressive barriers of Charleston has propelled them in very different directions, and they must reunite to try to rescue one of their number from the AIDS epidemic which ravaged San Francisco in the 1980s. Conroy's extravagant language is in full effect, as he brilliantly evokes Leo's participation in history, as seen through the filter of memory.
- Fiction + Literature Themes, Fiction + Literature Genres
- Family + Friendship, Human Qualities + Behavior, Literary, Medicine + Health, Peoples + Cultures, Psychology, Society + Social Issues, Stages of Life
- Large Print
- August 11, 2009
- August 11, 2009
- Pat Conroy