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The Prince of Tides [Kindle Edition]

Pat Conroy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (797 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The stirring saga of a man’s journey to free his sister—and himself—from a tragic family history

Tom Wingo has lost his job, and is on the verge of losing his marriage, when he learns that his twin sister, Savannah, has attempted suicide again. At the behest of Savannah’s psychiatrist, Tom reluctantly leaves his home in South Carolina to travel to New York City and aid in his sister’s therapy. As Tom’s relationship with her psychiatrist deepens, he reveals to her the turbulent history of the Wingo family, and exposes the truth behind the fateful day that changed their lives forever.
Drawing richly from Pat Conroy’s own troubled upbringing, The Prince of Tides is a sweeping and powerful story of how unlocking the past can be the secret to overcoming the darkest of personal demons.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For sheer storytelling finesse, Conroy will have few rivals this season. His fourth novel is a seductive narrative, told with bravado flourishes, portentous foreshadowing, sardonic humor and eloquent turns of phrase. Like The Great Santini, it is the story of a destructive family relationship wherein a violent father abuses his wife and children. Henry Wingo is a shrimper who fishes the seas off the South Carolina coast and regularly squanders what little money he amasses in farcical business schemes; his beautiful wife, Lila, is both his victim and a manipulative and guilt-inflicting mother. The story is narrated by one of the children, Tom Wingo, a former high school teacher and coach, now out of work after a nervous breakdown. Tom alternately recalls his growing-up years on isolated Melrose Island, then switches to the present in Manhattan, where his twin sister and renowned poet, Savannah, is recovering from a suicide attempt. One secret at the heart of this tale is the fate of their older brother Luke; we know he is dead, but the circumstances are slowly revealed. Also kept veiled is "what happened on the island that day"a grisly scene of horror, rape and carnage that eventually explains much of the sorrow, pain and emotional alienation endured by the Wingo siblings. Conroy deftly manages a large cast of characters and a convoluted plot, although he dangerously undermines credibility through a device by which Tom tells the Wingo family saga to Savannah's psychiatrist. Some readers may find here a pale replica of Robert Penn Warren's powerful evocation of the Southern myth; others may see resemblances to John Irving's baroque imaginings. Most, however, will be swept along by Conroy's felicitous, often poetic prose, his ironic comments on the nature of man and society, his passion for the marshland country of the South and his skill with narrative. 250,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; movie rights to United Artists; BOMC main selection; author tour.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA In order to aid a psychiatrist who is treating his psychotic sister, Tom Wingo arrives in Manhattan and describes figures from his youth, among them an abusive father, a mother obsessed with being accepted by Colleton's tawdry elite, eccentric grandparents, stolid brother Luke, and sensitive, poet-sister Savannah. Despite the book's length, scenes such as Grandmother Tolitha's visit to Ogletree's funeral home to try out coffins, Grandfather's yearly re-enactment of the stations of the Cross, Mrs. Wingo's passive-aggressive retaliation by serving her husband dog food, Luke's Rambo-like attempt to keep Colleton from becoming a nuclear plant site, and a bloody football game with the team's first black player deserve students' attention. While Conroy's skills at characterization and storytelling have made the book popular, his writing style may place it among modern classics. He adds enough detail so that readers can smell the salty low-country marsh, see the regal porpoise Snow against the dark ocean, and taste Mrs. Wingo's gourmet cooking and doctored dog food. The story is wholly Tom's; Conroy resists the temptation to include the vantage points of other characters. It is the reluctance of Tom to tell all, to recount rather than recreate his family's past, and to face up to the Wingos' mutual rejections that maintain the tension just below the story's surface. It is Tom's coming clean about his past that lays bare the truth and elevates Prince of Tides above a scintillating best seller. Alice Conlon, Univ . of Houston
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3290 KB
  • Print Length: 674 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (July 28, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XKN65K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,914 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
216 of 221 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conroy's best... September 24, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Pat Conroy's masterpiece, The Prince of Tides, not much is going right in Tom Wingo's life. He drinks too much, has lost his teaching/coaching job, and his marriage is on the rocks. He grew up with an abusive father whose violent behavior left physical and emotional scars on all the Wingo children. His mother was more supportive, but was powerless to protect her children from her husband's wrath. She also put her social ambitions before anything else in her life. The only that has gone right in Tom's life is that he lived his entire life in the low country of Charleston, SC--one of the most beautiful and nurturing places on this earth.

Things come to a head when Tom learns that his beautiful and talented twin, Savannah, has tried to commit suicide again. As she lays comatose in a New York City mental hospital, Savannah's psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, urges Tom to travel to New York. Doctor Lowenstein realizes that the only thing that can help save Savannah is to unlock the secrets of her terrible childhood (something that all the Wingo children have long suppressed and refuse to talk about). Tom flies to New York reluctantly, and at first, presents Dr. Lowenstein with a façade made up of humor, sarcasm and even rudeness. But Dr. Lowenstein eventually is able to break down Tom's protective shell to discover the horrors that took place during the Wingo's childhood. She also realizes that in trying to save Savannah, that this might also be Tom's last chance to save himself. But it turns out that Lowenstein has erected her own protective mask to hide her own unhappiness. With a remote husband and a spoiled son, Tom is able to turn the tables and help the good doctor in promoting a little self-healing as well.
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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars his best work July 29, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I reserve my five star rating for books that stand out as the best of the best. This is on the list of my top ten books, so I don't hesitate to put it as a five star book. Unlike some of Conroy's other books, this story line flows very easily, the plot seems reasonable, and it is as if you could have been there in South Carolina with the characters. This is a book for people who love to read-- it seems like Conroy is writing a long and beautiful poem, rather than a novel. But, don't get me wrong, the writing is not heavy or Faulkner-like that you can't get through it. It is a beautiful story of Tom Wingo as he deals with his sister's mental illnesses, his marital problems, and his childhood. As a person from the south, the book seemed very relevant in the way that family dynamics play out and the way childhoods are remembered. I would recommend the book for anyone who wants a captivating story, eloquent writing, and a taste of southern life. There is also some very good humor, too, which I appreciated!
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conroy is in a class with Maugham and Styron May 2, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read The Prince of Tides in 1984 and have read it many more times since then. It is my number one favorite book, and I have been reading for 45 years. Conroy spins a tale of a family and southern town in a prose that is poetic. The Wingos are a tragic family, yet paradoxically have golden memories, interspersed with some of the most humorous imbroglios imaginable. Tom Wingo's recollections of growing up in the low country marshes are the heart of the story, and telling them to Dr. Lowenstein is the avenue to healing himself and a form for the author to promote this dialog. All along the way every chapter is a story unto itself. Many vivid characters are introduced, in such astounding fashion! Who could dream up a Mr. Fruit, or Tolitha's coffin shopping expedition? So many adventures, and yet with such underlying sorrow. Conroy's gift is his ability to intersperse his books with humor and immaculate prose. I have copied down some of his phrases as treasures to quote. Reading some of the the one, two and three star reviews made my heart sink, for these reviewers just don't seem to recognize one of the greatest books of the last quarter century. I do agree with anyone who thought the movie made by Streisand focused predominately on the love affair, and in effect may have quenched a savvy reader's desire to read the novel. Please read this book and recommend it to others!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prince of Tides is one of best I ever read January 2, 2001
Has anyone out there read many and many books over the years to the point where the books you read as of late don't interest you or excite you as much as they used to? Well, I'm one of those people. Not a lot of books these days fail to grab my attention with such surreal realism and heart and emotion as Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides did. When I picked up this book last August, I had no idea what a ride I was in for. I read the first 200 pages with keen interest but had to put the book down due to starting a new semester at college. Now five months later and with finals and a wacky semester down the drain, I finally had the time to read the rest of the four hundred plus pages. The minute I picked up the book again after five long months all the details I had read and long forgotten came back to me like shooting stars. The magic of being able to envision the charectors and the scenes of the best and worst moments of their lives had returned to me after years of diminsihing like a candle. Prince of Tides is an extraordinary epic based on the Wingo family and their trials and tribulations throughout their lives. Conroy sketches out every detail of his characters with naturalness rarely read. He also managed to speak on a great many deals of horros that plague people like me every day of our lives, such as, mental illness, child and spousal abuse, rape, psychotherepy, the Vietnam War, racism in the South and betrayal. But I think that the greatest gift that Conroy offeres in this novel is the gift of love. He writes Susan and Tom's story of love and understanding with major depth. He doesn't simply make it a happy ending but one of lost fates; if only they had met early on in life. It's a wonderful novel that all people on all walks of life can relate to, especially the ones who weep a fate lost. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Family can survive anything
I usually don't read fiction, but my parents suggested I pick up this book. I was amazed at not only the beauty of the writing but also how much I could identify with the Wingo... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Erin Grace Fitzpatrick
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put the book down
I enjoyed reading this book very much. Great story, made you think about your own life and who you are and where you're going, and the effects your childhood had on you what you've... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Eileen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very intriguing and hard to put down.
Published 13 days ago by Becky
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read!
One of the best books I ever read. I am now reading all of his books (one at a time, of course). I am now reading "The Lords of Discipline." So far, totally excellent.
Published 14 days ago by Carol Randolph
5.0 out of 5 stars Southern
Almost didn't read this book because my impression was that "Prince of Tides" was some chick flick. Reading the book, boy was I wrong. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Parola138
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great prose! It is the second time that I have read this book.
Published 22 days ago by Piedad Dodson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very enjoyable and well written
Published 22 days ago by Drew
4.0 out of 5 stars Southern Charm
I found the plot and characters engaging. I enjoyed Conroy's style, and even thought I have never lived in the South, I feel like I have a deeper appreciation for the the dignity... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Beth Lavoie
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite novels
I had loaned my original hard copy of this book to someone and never got it back. So glad to find this one. Perfect condition.
Published 26 days ago by M. Bailey
4.0 out of 5 stars Needed serious editing
Needed to be more fully edited. Wordy. Same stuff over and over re his difficult childhood. Strung the story out so long one was beginning to think there wasn't really anything... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lois Chanslor
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More About the Author

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

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