New York Times bestseller: A “powerful” Southern drama about the destructive repercussions of keeping an unspeakable family secret (The Atlanta Journal).
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, Dr. Susan Lowenstein, 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 Susan 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 the author’s own troubled upbringing, The Prince of Tides is a sweeping, powerful novel of unlocking the past to overcome the darkest of personal demons—it’s Pat Conroy at his very best.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Pat Conroy’s haunting story of a damaged man who’s determined to save his twin sister from the howling black dogs of her mind became an Oscar-nominated film directed by Barbra Streisand in 1991. After his twin sister, Savannah, attempts to commit suicide, South Carolina schoolteacher Tom Wingo travels to New York to discuss the siblings’ childhood with her psychiatrist. As Tom recalls their abusive upbringing, he grows to understand his own buried emotional trauma. Some of the flashback scenes have a Flannery O’Connor–like Southern gothic creepiness, a tone that’s leavened by Conroy’s wry humor and lyrical depictions of his native state’s coastal beauty. That combination makes The Prince of Tides a moving experience that lingers with you.
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.
Top 5 favorites.
Truly a magical book. I love the way he writes.
One of Conroy’s best
Characteristic Conroy writing...lyrical and sweeping. His writing style is is not for everyone except the poetically inclined. :)
The characters are real and sometimes haunting. Most people can relate to at least one of them if not more.
The final chapters drags on just a tad bit. But the ending is beautiful.
The Prince of Tides
My favorite Conroy novel....in fact one of my favorite books ever. Characters are all very real....funny and heartbreaking. After you read this, rent the movie. Also one of my favorite films.