‘South of Broad’ by Pat Conroy
Book Release: 11 August 2009
This new novel comes out after a long pause lasting fourteen years and follows Pat Conroy’s last book as a love letter to San Francisco, Charleston, and the long-lasting bonds of friendship.
Leopold Bloom King, who is the narrator in this novel, set in the backdrop of the sumptuous Charleston in South Carolina is surrounded by a group of people who are both sinners and saints.
His father is a pleasant and loving man who teaches science at Charleston High School, while his mother is an ex-nun who is highly respected as a high school principal.
But this virtuous balance is upturned when Leos brother commits suicide at the age of ten, shattering Leo completely and plunging him deep into isolation and loneliness. Leo desperately searches for something to help him come to the surface again and finds help in a group of high school seniors.
Amongst these are Trevor and Sheba Poe a pair of glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a father who has escaped from prison. Others from the group include Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chatsworth Rutledge X as well as others who form this circle.
The intricate and intense relationship amongst these characters will keep alive for over twenty years, passing through a various crisis such as AIDS during the 80s.
This group will remain knotted to each other for years, surviving troubled and happy marriages, successes or failures as well as class divisions and racism.
The final test of their friendship comes with the meeting in San Francisco, where the group of friends has gone to help Sheba Poe, now a movie star, to find her brother Trevor who has gone missing. They end up finding him, dying of AIDS, victim of one of society’s major disasters.
Conroy has an incredible talent for depicting ironic and absurd situations, giving them a powerful melodramatic turn, throughout the novel the entertainment does not relent as Conroy keeps the pace and emotions going.
This staggering novel is a work of art of emotions, drama, irony, and a tableau of our society and what it is leading us to.