By Scott Smith
“The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy
If you feel the need to be taken back to the low country of South Carolina mixed with the bustling noise of New York City, a must-read is Pat Conroy’s “The Prince of Tides.” On a lazy Sunday afternoon, this is a thunderstorm of a novel. Spanning a course over forty years, the book tells the story of the life of Tom Wingo and his troubled sister Savannah.
Conroy weaves a tale of triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which Tom and Savannah were born. The story is tragically acquainted with all the misery and glory and pain and beauty of humanity. It is also deeply entrenched in the American south. Although some may consider this a dark novel, I found it to be both uplifting and at times bright with hope especially as the story of the Wingo family evolves into dual struggles within Tom as he is torn between a family and life that’s not his anymore and the troubles of telling his sisters story through His eyes because she, in a comatose state can’t communicate with her psychiatrist.
Conroy’s novel written in 1986 was made into a fantastic movie in 1991 which won Nick Nolte a Golden Globe. If you can only read one line from the book or see the movie to get you into this southern classic the below should do it:
“So I returned to my Southern home and my Southern life. It is in the presence of my wife and children…… that I acknowledge my life, my destiny. I am a teacher…… a coach….. and a well-loved man. And it is more than enough. In New York, I learned that I needed to love my mother and father…… in all their flawed, outrageous humanity. And in families, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness. But it is the mystery of life that sustains me now. And I look to the North…… and I wish again that there were two lives apportioned to every man…… and every woman. At the end of every day, I drive through the city of Charleston…… and as I cross the bridge that’ll take me home…… I feel the words building inside me. I can’t stop them or tell you why I say them. But as I reach the top of the bridge…… these words come to me in a whisper. I say them as prayer. As regret. As praise. I say “Lowenstein. Lowenstein.”
Conroy’s novel.. a must-read for a lazy Sunday afternoon