The Prince of Tides- Pat Conroy

The Prince of Tides: A Novel

Earlier this year, I read the memoir The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy.  I thoroughly enjoyed Conroy's writing style and realized that, although I watched the movie The Prince of Tides a long time ago, I had never read a Conroy novel.  I've used these long slow days of recovering from surgery to read The Prince of Tides.

Tom Wingo grew up in the salt marshes of South Carolina.  That fact alone endears me immediately to the characters in this book because I am a Southern girl born and bred myself.  Tom finds himself in New York developing a relationship with his sister's psychiatrist after his sister's attempt to commit suicide.  He leaves behind three daughters he loves dearly, a Southern world he loves dearly, and a wife who has admitted having an affair because she is no longer sure how Tom feels about her.

Throughout his weeks in New York, Tom relates his family's violent, desperate history to Dr. Lowenstein in an effort to help her help his sister.  Throughout the summer, he comes to terms with the things in his past that made him the man he is.  And, when he is faced with the choice of continuing his relationship with Dr. Lowenstein or returning to his family in the South, he remains loyal to his family and his past.

Conroy has a beautiful way with words.  His descriptions are never just descriptions.  He uses the English language like he is painting a picture.  I love the depth and beauty of his words.  Occasionally, the descriptions became too much for me to bear, and I found myself just trying to wade through the writing, but for the most part, I thought the writing beautiful.  I also noticed in this novel, as in Conroy's memoir, that even when he is portraying something dark and bleak, he has the ability to interject hope.  The loving relationship between Tom, his sister Savannah, and their brother Luke often provided a glimpse of hope in a messed up family.  And Tom's decision to return to his family at the end was very hopeful.  It gave the reader hope that Tom had come to grips with some things in his life and was now going to be able to restore his family.

I enjoyed The Prince of Tides, but I must admit I was ready for it to be over.  It was sad and haunting, a tale of a very traumatized family.  That made it hard, though beautiful, reading.