Good Reads: South of Broad, by Pat Conroy
South of Broad is set in Charleston, South Carolina, and that beautiful city plays an important role in the novel. Charleston native Leopold Bloom King (Leo, for short) grows up in the shadow of his older brother Stephen, until Stephen’s tragic death. The tragedy shakes his family to the core, and leaves Leo mentally unstable and lonely. Never the popular kid, Leo finds himself befriending other outsiders and new kids at his high school where his cold, Ulysses loving mother is the principal. This group of misfits includes 3 orphans, 2 of Charleston’s richest kids (kicked out of the their private school for using drugs) and a set of theatrical twins with a mysterious past. The story begins in 1969, the year Leo’s high school is integrated, and racism and class divisions are both significant topics in the novel.
We are introduced to all of the characters, then the story flashes forward 20 years to a knock on the door that changes everything for this group of friends. The book moves back and forth between 1969 and 1989, and I really enjoyed seeing the characters as high schoolers and as grown ups. It was interesting to see what became of each of them (who married who, their professions) , then to read a flashback to learn how they got to where they are in 1989. One of the things I love most about this book are the rich character descriptions, particularly that of Leo. There are 10 friends in the “group” plus a handful of additional characters, but I had no trouble keeping them straight since each is very unique.
This is one of those amazing stories that I could read over and over again, and that’s not something I say often. I’m looking forward to checking out some of Pat Conroy’s other novels, particularly The Prince of Tides.
Have you read any of Pat Conroy’s novels? What did you think of them? What are you reading now?
Disclosure: I have not been asked to review this book. It was just a great book that I wanted to share with you. The links in the post are Amazon Affiliate links.