Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beach Music

Wow. I love Pat Conroy. His could be some of the best writing I have ever read. He even has status in my top ten books with Prince of Tides (movie was good, but the book blew it away). His books are quite long, full of details, and never once am I bored. I finally read a second of his books, Beach Music, and for 768 pages, I never once wished for it to end. So much happened, and yet I was never confused or uncertain of the big picture. I was sucked in from the first sentence and still glued to every page until the last word. Some sentences were so beautiful, I found myself reading them two and three times just to absorb their meaning and beauty. Read this gem and you will understand what I mean:

"Pale light still held Waterford in the hot palm of the backsliding day. Late April is that time of year when light seems to melt into the river and touch the blossoms of the transfigured trees; it made the town seem tenderly kissed with regret as the river moved away from the fading sun."

Magnificence. The story begins with the fact that Jack McCall's wife has recently committed suicide and he blames everyone, including himself. He's angry with her family, his family and all their friends and decides to flee from South Carolina to Rome. His daughter, Leah, is two when they leave and remembers nothing of her mother or her life in Waterford. Rome is her home, yet she longs to know the rest of her family. Through a series of events, Jack returns home to be with his dying mother. Once there he must confront his anger and allow those closest to him to reconcile and learn to cope with the loss of Shyla, his wife, and soon-to-be-gone, Lucy, his mother. Shyla's parents are desperate to make amends with Jack. When their daughter died, they sued Jack for custody of Leah. Thankfully he won, but the scar ran so deep and forced his exit to Rome. While Shyla's parents never approved of their daughter's marriage in the first place, they being Jewish and the McCalls being Catholic, there was never a clear understanding beyond the surface of differing religions that made sense for the disapproval. The story takes us to World War II Poland where Shyla's parents endured unspeakable hardship courtesy of the Nazis. Jack also learn to cop with his alcoholic father and a mother that simply loved him "the best that she knew how." I could continue on and on with more of the plot, but I think it's fair to leave the rest to a new reader. There is just so much more I could say, but it could take hours and reading Conroy's writing will be much more enjoyable than mine!

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