Pat Conroy is the author of eight previous books: The Boo, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, and The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life. He lives in Fripp Island, South Carolina. Photo copyright: David G. Spielman
To read a book by Pat Conroy is to come to the realization that so much of everything else I read, and think is good, is truly just an appetizer getting me ready for the main course -- which is what Conroy is. Every sentence you read lures you into the web of Conroy's storytelling. This is a book that will take you from the piazzas in Rome to the low country of South Carolina. You will fall so deeply in love with each setting that you couldn't possibly decide which place you would prefer to live. Every character is a tortured soul who has a tale to tell -- one more heartbreaking than the other. The main story follows Jack McCall, who flees to Rome with his young daughter Leah after his beloved wife Shyla has committed suicide. He leaves behind a bevy of colorful family and friends in an effort to escape his torment and begin a new life in a new land. As a travel writer by trade, Jack is able to pick up and live wherever he chooses. It is a telegram from a family member that will finally bring Jack back to South Carolina to face his demons and learn the stories of all those he loves. Conroy has the ability of dropping crumbs along the way leading you to each character's hidden story. He touches on times in history involving the Holocaust and the Vietnam War -- each decade so real that I don't even want to think about the horrors. But it is these horrors that have come to shape the characters whose cards have been dealt and whose hands must be played. They are all part of a finely interwoven story with South Carolina as the stage for the grand finale. In reading the book, I can only wonder if the author can write the last twenty pages and not cry himself. I don't usually cry when reading a book but I must admit that this one did me in.Read more ›
Pat Conroy is my favorite author--I just wish he produced a new book every three months like John Grishom. There is absolutely nobody else who has the power of "description" and "Imagery" that he has. I love Conroy's writing because it is always so contradictory. He makes you love and hate his characters at the same time. I started out by being completely annoyed with John Hardin in this novel, and then he ended up being my favorite character--he was so funny and outrageous. I felt the same about his mother--loved and hated her at the time time. I remember this was also true of his characters when I read "Prince of Tides." He has such an ability to play with the reader's emotions. Beach Music was harder than his other novels because of so many subplots & characters, but instead of wishing it hadn't been so long and gone into so much, I found myself wishing it was longer, and he had developed the characters & subplots even more. There is always a feeling of "letdown" when you finish one of Pat Conroy's novels because you don't want it to end. Nobody writes about "dysfunction" with his sense of humor.
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I'm usually a reviewer who argues for strong editing, saying books are too long and in need of brutal slashing and burning. But this book of Pat Conroy's doesn't fall in that category; I loved and cherished every word of it. It's rich, lush, full of atmospheric detail. Pat Conroy at his best, and it makes me want to go to Italy and the South.
This has become one of my favorite books of all time. Conroy's imagery and use of detail to enhance his storyline is exemplary. He expresses ideas and emotions very well. My favorite quote from the book expressess this idea. "I could feel the tears within me, undiscovered and untouched in their inland sea. Those tears haad been with me always." His explanation why couldn't cry for his wife's death was touching. I have also read Prince of Tides by Conroy, and though the plot have many similarities, I like Beach Music better of the two because it touches on so many more people and their stories. It bothered me aa little at first that there were so many similarites in plot and in characters, but then I became more intrigued because I felt as if I was reading about Conroy's own life, that he had drawn from his personal experiences. Whether this is true or not I don't know. The characters are extremely well developed, each with their own destictive personality, which is amazing considering the number of characters involved. I really liked the plot of the book bacause he delt with so many issues and tied them together so well. He reaches out and pulls amazing stories from his characters, and does it without seeming fake. I wouldn't say this book is for everyone. I wouldn't recommend Beach Musi to people who like extremely fast paced books and don't have the patience for character development. I also would not recommend it to people who would have a hard time dealing with the issues he brings up like suicide, rape, mental instability and the Holocaust. However, I think Conroy's book has great value.
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Pat Conroy is one of my all-time favorites but frankly, I'm getting tired of hearing him whine about his family. The mother figures in his books are always beautiful, outrageous, egotistical, mean to her children but nevertheless, heroic. The father figures are always drunken, abusive louts or otherwise absent and ineffectual. There is always mental illness somewhere in the family that was caused by some horrendous tragedy. The main character is always the misunderstood victim of the weird people in his family. The children are always bright, beautiful, flawless and smarter than the adults. I grew up in the Carolinas and I found all the business about the beach music to be downright maudlin. I spent many summers shagging to the same old songs but if Jack McCall had any self-respect, he'd grow up and get over it. The whole theme exalting beach music and shagging reminded me too much of the generation X'ers who define their lives by the lyrics of pop music, or a high-school football star who never got over his glory days. ICK! Pat Conroy needs to be careful that he doesn't go down the same slippery slope as Stuart Woods. I look forward to his next book with great hopes that he does something DIFFERENT!