Tuesday, March 22, 2011

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

Started at ten pm finished this last night or technically at one am this morning and it's still filtering through. The novel is set in Charleston and is a love letter to the city, among other things. The main character is Leopold Bloom King also called the Toad for his thick glasses and bug eyes. He's not very good-looking and has been scarred for life by finding his ten-year-old older brother dead in the bathtub of an apparent a suicide.

The novel starts in the summer before Leo's senior year of high school. He's an talented and courteous paper boy and he's also working off his community service in the antique store of a mean elderly man. Leo makes friends with several new students which are beautifully written supporting characters. There is a pair of twins, Trevor and Sheba Poe, brother and sister orphans Niles and Starla Whitehouse, Ike Jefferson; and several of Charleston's socialites, Molly Huger, her boyfriend Chadworth Rutledge, and his sister Fraser. Together this group begins a tight-knit friendship that will last through the years, as many of them marry and begin families.

But there are many sinister secrets that worry the friends. Somehow, Leo's compassion is the glue that holds this group together. Leo helps to bridge the gaps in social standing.

The book is written with unforgettable, genuine characters. A lot of fibers are woven together to create this wonderful story. Overall, I enjoyed this book and will be pondering it for a while.

4 Stars.

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