Friday, May 29, 2015

Cepalopod Coffehouse - The Prince of Tides


Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.  Please join us:


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This month I'm sharing The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. I had seen the movie ages ago, so I had a pretty good idea of what happened, but I certainly wasn't prepared to enjoy the writing so much. Maybe I was able to enjoy it because I did know the basic plot:

In which Tom Wingo travels to NYC in order to talk to his twin sister's psychiatrist. His twin, Savannah, has tried to commit suicide again and Lowenstein (the psychiatrist) thinks if Tom can help her understand Savannah, then maybe she'll stop trying to kill herself. The scene switches from Tom recalling his and his sibling's growing-up years on isolated Melrose Island, South Carolina to present day Manhattan. At the heart of the tale are two terrible secrets. One is the fate of older brother Luke, who we know at the beginning is dead, but not how. The other is even worse, but revealing it just might save Savannah.
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What was missing from the movie was the gorgeous language Conroy uses. I was in awe of his powers of description and the way he could tell this type of story (basically a drama) so well. In fact, I was so caught up in the story that I did what I only do with a very few books, the ones I am most invested in. I stop reading at the worse part because I'm afraid of what will happen to the characters I've grown so fond of. I always go back, of course, usually within a day or two, but it's almost like I have to prepare myself for what's going to happen next.

Also missing from the movie are the secondary characters. I vaguely recall the mother, but that's about it. In the book, the mother is this fabulously magical cruel person, while the father is mean and violent, horribly so. But he also instills this love of country in his children and that theme permeates Tom's recounting of his childhood. Plus there was a host of other characters like their religious grandfather (loved him), their grandmother (her, too) who left him and came back, this awful snooty rich family (hated their guts), not to mention all the things that happen to bond the three kids together. I was never so interested in a family's life.

 


23 comments:

  1. Didn't the movie also have Nolte and Streisand in it? That's another blow to the film.

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    1. I don't remember them being bad but having read the book Barbara Streisand doesn't make as good a Lowenstein as I recall.

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  2. I vaguely remember the movie. Glad you really enjoyed the book.

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    1. It was excellent. Conroy has a true gift for making magic with words. I'm envious!

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  3. I read this year's ago. Time for a re-read!

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  4. I have heard of the movie, and not seen it. And the book has me intrigued. Thank you. Lots.

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  5. I've never read it, though I have seen the movie and read other Conroy books. Family dysfunction is definitely his forte. Glad to hear the novel compares favorably with the film.

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    1. Oh, the book was ever so much better. And yes, family dysfunction at its finest.

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    2. I actually have a Conroy quote on a gadget on my blog:

      "Winning is wonderful in every aspect, but the darker music of loss resonates on deeper, richer planes." - from My Losing Season

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  6. I have heard of the movie but haven't seen it. Might just have to go for the book instead. :)

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    1. It's very long, but very good.

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  7. Hated the film especially the ending and Barbara showing off her perfect hands and manicured nails. The romance between Tom and Lowenstein rather upset me. As I felt she took advantage of him. My dislike of the film has kept me from reading any of his books.
    Right or wrong it is just me.

    That said very happy you enjoyed the book !
    cheers, parsnip

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    1. I wasn't wild about their relationship (esp. as she's a psychiatrist) but in the book it makes sense the way it happens.

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  8. I LOVE this book. Several years ago Pat Conroy spoke at Flagler College in St. Augustine. Favorite Young Man surprised me by taking me to see the great man. He was absolutely hilarious, especially when he talked about Barbra Streisand's attempts to contact him (he thought it was a joke). After he spoke, he sat down at a table and autographed books for about two hours--until the entire line had gone past him. No one left disappointed. I haven't met many celebrities, but among the few I've met, he is the kindest and most polite. He posed for numerous photos with his readers. He autographed every book personally. I now have three of his books with autographs, and one is The Prince of Tides. His use of language is poetic, even during violent scenes. He credits his mother for his love of books and words, and credits his father for beating him so much that he could become a writer. He says every family has someone crazy, and we can be writers because of the craziness in our lives. I adore him, and many of his books.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Yes! His use of language is very poetic, so full of imagery. I felt like I could see everything. Nice to hear he's a great guy, too.

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  9. Certain themes will keep me from books. This one has one of them, so it's a no-go for me. But didn't he also write Conrack? I saw that movie, too, and that one I think I might enjoy reading.

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    1. The secrets are certainly dark and terrible but their is hope at the end.

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  10. Hmm, sounds like a book I should read.

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  11. I remember this movie and I know it had horrifying stuff in it. I think I'd get chicken about 2/3 in, too! I had similar feelings about The Thorn Birds, but loved every second of that book.
    Thanks for sharing,

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