The Prince of Tides chronicles the ups and downs of the turbulent Wingo family, a southern born and bred clan living on an island in South Carolina, through Tom Wingo's eyes as he fights to save his suicidal sister, who is a poet living in New York. Tom travels to New York to meet with Savannah's therapist, Susan Lowenstein, and figure out where she went wrong and how to help her. Through the stories of their childhood, we are exposed to the painful memories Savannah is plagued with - the abuse from her father, the denial of such abuse, and the wonderful yet frightening life lived on Melrose Island. The plot thickens as we hear of their late-brother Luke and their ambitious and quixotic mother.
As a New Yorker, reading Pat Conroy is like a breath of fresh, southern air. I've never been to the south, and frankly, before reading this book, I had never even thought about traveling there. But the south Pat Conroy describes seems entirely appealing. It is so foreign from what I'm used to, and for that matter, what you are probably used to as well. Interestingly enough, I think that putting Tom and Savannah in New York perhaps enhances the view of the south. This forsaken place needs to be reevaluated, and I believe Pat Conroy does just that.
My next book, The Great Santini, has a lot of the same features - southern family, abusive father, struggling children - but with an entirely new twist. The Marine Corps. I'm half way through with it and let me just say that I am not at all displeased. Reading Pat Conroy has made this New Yorker quite open-minded about the south. I hope to post about The Great Santini soon.