Monday, November 9, 2009

Mt Laurel Book Club Review for South of Broad

The Mt Laurel Book Club met Thursday evening at Chuck and Gwynne Sams home to discuss Pat Conroy's South of Broad. The book, which has been considered to be the publishing event of the year, was liked by everyone and many members had already recommended the book to others to read. We had a great discussion due to the dynamic characters and situations that our hero, Leopold Bloom King, faced throughout the novel. The novel follows Leo King and the group of friends that he makes one summer for the next twenty years of their lives. It's a heavy book that deals with abuse, the 80's AIDS epidemic and other serious topics, but there were definite moments of humor. (I think we decided during the meeting that the novel covered every type of prejudice that we could think of that fit the scope of the novel's characters). Charleston was vividly portrayed in the novel - it could easily be said that Charleston was as much a character as the people in the book. Check this one out if you are looking for a thought-provoking read!!!

From Booklist
An unlikely group of Charlestonian teens forms a friendship in 1969, just as the certainties and verities of southern society are quaked by the social and political forces unleashed earlier in the decade. They come from all walks of life, from the privileged homes of the aristocracy, from an orphanage, from a broken home where an alcoholic mother and her twins live in fear of a murderous father, from the home of public high school’s first black football coach, and from the home of the same school’s principal. The group’s fulcrum, Leopold Bloom King, second son of an ex-nun Joyce scholar, who is also the school’s principal, and a science-teacher father, is just climbing out of childhood mental illness after having discovered his handsome, popular, athletic, scholarly older brother dead from suicide. Over the next two decades, these friends find success in journalism, the bar, law enforcement, music, and Hollywood. Echoing some themes from his earlier novels, Conroy fleshes out the almost impossibly dramatic details of each of the friends’ lives in this vast, intricate story, and he reveals truths about love, lust, classism, racism, religion, and what it means to be shaped by a particular place, be it Charleston, South Carolina, or anywhere else in the U.S. --Mark Knoblauch

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