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on 5 September 2011
I first read this book almost 25 years ago shortly after its publication and, even then as a teenager, it impressed itself so strongly on me that it has remained my favourite book of all time, to which I regularly return to reread again.

This is a book for anyone who has ever had issues with their own families and wondered what it would have been like if they had been born into another. It is a tale for those that have wondered at the eccentricities of a mother or father, or a somewhat off kilter sibling and contemplated the origins of what might have made them that way.

It is a study of the impact of history on a family and how they can survive or fall apart based on the cards that they are dealt and how they choose to deal with them.

And it is a great narrative of mid 20th century American life which was so striking that, years later it led me on a personal pilgrimage to various places referenced which Conroy so lovingly and first-handedly portrays in his novel.

The Prince of Tides is the biography of the Wingo's, a family of passionate outsiders surviving on the sea islands of North Carolina in a fictional town called Colleton, well removed from the sophistication of distant city of Savannah or even the New York that both Savannah and her twin Tom, the narrator of the story, both eventually end up in.

The prince of tides of the title is also a reference to Luke, the only other sibling and older brother of Tom and Savannah and the hero of the story.

The novel spans a time line stretching from the 1930's to the 1980's and straddling both the Second World War and the Vietnam war and portraying the major impact that both these events brought to bear on one American family. It follows the lives of Tom's parents Lila and Henry Wingo and even of Henry parents and how their collective experiences formed and impacted on Tom and Savannah and Luke from childhood into adulthood, creating Savannah into a poet, Tom into a school teacher and coach and Luke into a shrimp fisherman and decorated war hero.

This is a book of, at times, such harrowing tragedy and pain that it sometimes will leave you sobbing and breathless. However it is ultimately a book of redemption and recovery and reconciliation also and in that it gives you hope that even from that darkest of times can emerge beauty and reason and the will to go on to better things and times that will inevitably come.

Finally, up to now I've avoided making reference to the film adaption of the book because it was so disappointing and not a very reflective rendering of the story. However I would say if you are contemplating avoiding the book merely on the basis that you weren't impressed by the film, I say read this book, if only to find out who the Prince of Tides, the heroic Luke Wingo was. His tale will both break and gladden your heart.
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on 9 February 1999
I first picked this book up when I needed something to read and had finished or discarded just about everything else on my mothers bookshelf. I was highly impressed by the style of prose: at some points I think it would have sounded better whispered over music. But the element that gives this book some bite is the wonderfully knowing characterisations that lie therein. Coupled with the extremely wry sense of humour, it presents some very sympathetic characters that aren't sickly (Hollywood take note) in a tale of family tragedy and shared secrets. Conroys' only fault is that he never uses one word where he could use ten. However, don't let this get in the way of a moving family saga well woth reading. If you like this try "To Kill a Mockingbird".
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on 11 August 2000
Having seen the movie adaptation which starred Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte, both of whom I find highly irritating, I selected the book slightly reluctantly. To my surprise however, the film and it's visual memory drifted away as Conroy's extraordinarily lyrical style of writing prose wrapped me up in the very taste and smell of Tom's world.
The characters are believable, as are most of the events that unfold, and somehow even those occurrences which are slightly less plausible still seem perfectly so - probably because you don't just read about this world, but thanks to Conroy's style, you live in it. This makes it highly moving and at times uncomfortable. The secrets and lies of a family, the brutality that comes to light and the fact that there really is no happy ending, just life going on as before, perhaps in just a more worldly way - these are all captivating and I felt absolutely bereft when I closed the book.
I can't bring myself to read Conroy's other works in case they fail to live up to the high standard established with "The Prince of Tides".
I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story well told, and is not afraid to give their heart to a book without receiving it back with just a little piece missing......
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on 4 October 2007
One of the truly great stories of all time, right up there with SOPHIES CHOICE, THE PRINCE OF TIDES is a non-stop journey though darkness and into the light. Tom Wingo is one of the main characters in this vast and verbose tome by Pat Conroy, and he's both hero and anti-hero all at once.

The way Conroy sets the scenes in this book is remarkable. Little is left to the imagination as he covers every bit for himself, using adjectives until your head will hurt. But it's all for a reason; it's all there to make you "feel" what he wants you to feel.

The story, as most probably know by now, having seen the movie, is harrowing and fraught with pitfalls for the Wingo family. Some have survived--some haven't. Tom's sister is somewhere in the middle, and this is where the story gets its push--from the fact that Tom is in NY trying to figure out what to do "about" her after her latest suicide attempt.

Filled with relief humor and intricate tales of family dysfunction, PRINCE OF TIDES is a massive books that titillates, fascinates, and compels the reader to keep reading
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on 13 December 2009
Phew - not as epic as the Thornbirds but felt like it! Actually a case where I felt the screenplay worked a thousand times better than the book - how often does one get to say that? Apart from the language which has a wonderful narrative voice to it (you can hear Tom Wingo's southern drawl in places) I felt there were too many interlacing characters and backstories that I didn't need to know. The screenplay managed to pick up on the one strong thread that ran through the book beautifully and made it work with a little help from Babs and Nolte. Good book if you want a holiday read
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on 9 August 2003
This is undoubtedly an amazing book. I have never read a book that has gripped me in the way Pat Conroys style of writting in this book did. The story of Tom Wingo, unemployed househusband, as it alternates between his current life and his past.
It is too easy to forget that this is a fiction and throughout the book I had to keep reminding myself that this was Tom Wingo's story and not Pat Conroy's.
A moving book that captures every emotion to your realisation that such emotions exist within you.
A long but very worthwhile read that you will want to read again and again.
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on 23 August 2013
The moment I started I recognized “The Great Santini” in a different guise, even though I’d forgotten this book was by the same author. Similarly, it’s better than the film.

Dysfunctional family in small South Carolina town, riddled with racial and class prejudice. Three super kids whose sibling love and mutual support are their only defense against a bullying, opinionated father, and a mother determined to be a martyr, obsessed with appearances and climbing the social ladder, in constant denial, to the point of near destruction of her family. The story focuses on the effects of the family’s traumatic history on the children, now grown to adulthood, and the commitment of one brother to aid the psychological recovery of his famous, talented but suicidal sister. An interesting relationship with her psychologist also develops.

Conroy’s story-weaving and his economic style make for compulsive reading. He has the rare knack of wringing the heart-strings while, at the same time, maintaining a humour that had me chuckling one moment and damp-eyed the next.

My only criticism is his obsession with the ball-game, through every move of which he insists on forcing the reader, blow-by-blow, ad nauseam. These episodes alone sent me “skim-reading” although cut by a third they’d have a valid place in the saga.
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on 27 May 2014
I read this book about 25 years ago, and it made me cry then. I remember being so lost in the story that I had to read it while walkimg, cooking etc! Idecided to read it again recentl;y, to see if it was as good as I had remembered,and wasnt disappointed in the least.

The story was pretty depressing when you think about it - suicidal sister, dead sibling, violent upbringing. All good ingredients for a tearful and harrowing read. Yet the way it is written was poetical, lyrical and downright beautiful. I cried all over again and was so sad when I got to the end.

I had to prolong the feeling of being lost in the Deep South, and so halfway through I bought Beach Music by the same author....and thats another story!
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on 10 June 2013
I have just recently discovered Pat Conroy, and have read 3 of his books - Beach House, South of Broad and Price of Tides, which, to my mind is the best of the three, closely followed by Beach House. He writes so beautifully - almost lyrically, and draws one into the lives of the characters from page 1. The landscapes are vivid, and one can almost smell the marshlands mingled with the aromas from the barbecues, and feel the velvety softness of the air. Highly recommended.
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on 27 December 2014
Although this book has a good story line I am about to abandon it half way through ... it has become rambling and, more importantly, the frequent use of character names in virtually every dialogue is infuriating. I find myself scanning each page noting the character reference rather than enjoying what is happening during communication. I have, however, just received the DVD and hope this dissipates my frustration at having to give up before the end!
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