The Prince of Tides

Is it just me or is this holiday season flying by? I have accomplished ZERO Christmas shopping, the Elf on the Shelf was four days late at our house, I still have to plan my daughter’s Christmas party for her class and decide what we are eating when my parents come over for Christmas morning. On the bright side, our carpet is going to be cleaned this Saturday, which for those of you that have seen it will understand how truly excited I am about this. Between the previous owners and our new puppy, it looks quite…ummm…decorated. Speaking of decorations, our Christmas decor is up so that is one thing I have accomplished for the holiday season.

Title: The Prince of Tides
Author: Pat Conroy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 1986
Format: Hardcover
Length: 567 pages

I finally have finished Prince of Tides. I have been wanting to read a Pat Conroy novel for years. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Prince of Tides. In some ways, I was hesitant to read it because it’s one of those books everyone talks about it, which sometimes means it won’t live up to my expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by his writing. I think if I were ever to have met Pat Conroy I would have truly liked him.

Conroy had a really complicated relationship with his physically and verbally abusive Marine dad. If you have ever read about Conroy, you know this relationship is the focus of the majority of his writings. The Prince of Tides is about a dysfunctional family, the Wingos, who reside in South Carolina. The mother is what many would describe as a Southern Belle and the father is a shrimper. They have three children-two boys and a girl. The father is abusive and spends his hard earned money on ideas for business, truly believing he is an entrepreneur, which leads to poverty for the family. Viewed as outcasts by the town, the children must learn to cope with their father and everyday life. The book moves between past and present. Tom Wingo, the narrator, will be forced to make peace with his past as an adult when his sister attempts suicide. Tom visits New York City to see Savannah in the hospital in hopes of helping her and while there he develops a relationship with her counselor.

Conroy eventually heals the relationship with his father. More can be read about this relationship in Conroy’s memoir, The Death of Santini. If you read Conroy’s works, you will see that the fathers depicted in his novels are never pure saints or pure evil. They come across as real, as human, with their own scars from the past. In The Prince of Tides, Conroy writes, “If Henry Wingo had not been a violent man, I think he would have made a splendid father.” One has to wonder if that is how Conroy views his own father.

About the Author

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hitchcock

Pat Conroy (1945 – 2016) was the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of TidesThe 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.
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6942.Pat_Conroy

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