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Book Title: The Prince of Tides|
The author of the book: Pat Conroy
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 16.51 MB
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Reader ratings: 7.5
Date of issue: December 1st 1987
ISBN 13: 9780553268881
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My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.
So begins the story of the Wingo family of Melrose Island in Colleton County, South Carolina. As told by Tom Wingo.
To describe our growing up in the lowcountry of South Carolina, I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation, scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, “There. That taste. That’s the taste of my childhood.” I would say, “Breathe deeply,” and you would breathe and remember that smell for the rest of your life, the bold, fecund aroma of tidal marsh, exquisite and sensual, the smell of the South in heat, a smell like new milk, semen, and spilled wine, all perfumed with seawater. My soul grazes like a lamb on the beauty of indrawn tides.
Tom has a twin sister Savannah and as the story opens Savannah, a successful poet, who lives in New York City has just attempted to end her life by slashing her wrists with a razor blade. This is not the first time. He also has an older brother Luke who he idolizes, but Luke is not there as this story opens and to understand why, why his sister is barely clinging with frightening, frailty to life, why his big brother is not present; well, then we have to go back. Back to when they were children, Back to when Lila and Henry, their parents, controlled the great tides of their life.
It is not a pretty picture. The Wingos of Melrose island were an intensely disturbing, dysfunctional family. Their three children survived a brutal upbringing, one that they were not allowed ever to discuss or even acknowledge; isolated from the neighbouring community of Colleton, with only each other to turn to for strength, support and comfort. Their bond seemed unbreakable.
Still there is beauty here:
It was growing dark on this long southern evening and suddenly, at the exact point her finger had indicated, the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils. Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold…...The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, the depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks. The moon then rose quickly, rose like a bird from the water, from the trees, from the islands, and climbed straight up - gold, then yellow, then pale yellow, pale silver, silver - bright, then something miraculous, immaculate, and beyond silver, a color native only to southern nights.
These days Tom Wingo is a family man himself with a beautiful wife and three beautiful daughters but he can feel it all slipping away. He used to be a teacher and a coach, work that he loved, but that was before Luke. Now he cannot seem to bring himself to give his wife the intimacy she craves, he wants to, but it is like he is frozen, unable to get himself in motion. He knows even before his wife confirms it, that he is losing her. Perhaps their time apart, while he is in New York City trying to help his sister will give them both an opportunity to reflect and come to terms with what they really want. It is in New York that Tom meets Susan Lowenstein, Savannah’s psychiatrist and at her urging turns back the hands of time as he relates the events of their childhood in a last ditch effort to help Lowenstein understand the trauma that may go a long way in explaining Savannah’s suicide attempts and her current mental state.
It is the beginning of a long and uncanny season in the house of Wingo. There will be honor and decency and the testing of the qualities of our humanity, or the lack of them. There will be a single hour of horror that will change our lives forever. There will be carnage and murder and ruin. When it is over, we will all think that we have survived the worst day of our lives, endured the most grisly scenario the world could have prepared for us. We will be wrong.
Violence sends deep roots into the heart; it has no seasons; it is always ripe, evergreen.
There will also be Luke, our Prince of Tides. Luke’s story however is one you would be well advised to read for yourselves.
But there is also a Bengal tiger and whales and a rare white porpoise and the South Carolina low country. There is sadness and brutality yes, but also adventure and mirth and heart swelling love; all wrapped up in Conroy’s luscious, lyrical, haunting prose.
Later when we spoke of our childhood, it seemed part elegy, part nightmare.
I am sure a great many of you have likely already seen the movie with Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte, which was great. I loved it! You may be thinking why should I read the book when I already know the story? Why? Because there is so much more story here and because it is so beautifully written that it brings tears to my eyes and my chest feels oddly swollen, just remembering some of Conroy’s passages. The movie cannot even begin to compare or compete.
All The Stars in The Sky!
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Read information about the authorPat Conroy (1945 - 2016) was the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Water Is Wide) before publishing his first novel, The Boo. Conroy lived on Fripp Island, South Carolina until his death in 2016.
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