Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Beach Music by Pat Conroy

I finished Pat Conroy's Beach Music last Wednesday, on the plane, as we began the first leg of our trip from Florida to Ohio. I haven't had time to post a review, as I've spent the weekend preparing for and attending my best friend's wedding. And my sister's baby shower. But now I've eaten my fill and celebrated to the utmost, and it's time to talk about the book.

The copy I read was Mooched a year or two ago, and I just got around to reading it. I read and loved Conroy's The Prince of Tides a couple of years ago. Sadly, while I enjoyed Beach Music, I didn't love it like I loved the other. This book once again delves into Conroy's love-hate relationship with the South, specifically South Carolina. At the start of the book, Jack McCall has moved with his daughter to Rome, to get away from his family, his late wife's family, and the Southernness of Waterford, South Carolina. His wife took her own life by jumping from a bridge, for which Jack somewhat blames himself. Her family tried to win custody of his only daughter, Leah, but they were unable to paint Jack in an unflattering enough light to be granted custody. Now he lives with her in Rome, trying to forget he has a family...until his brothers call to tell him their mother is dying. Jack returns to South Carolina, for the first time since Shyla took her own life, to reunite with old friends, and the family he was trying to forget. There is a bit of a mystery to the book, based on an old friend's disappearance, and a sort of romance, as well. The book covers stories arising from the Vietnam War, as well as Nazi Germany during World War II, as well as "modern-day" (1980's) Rome and South Carolina.

While I liked the book well enough, that's all I can really say about it. I liked it. While I was reading it, I was interested. When I put it down, I was not in a hurry to pick it back up. And that saddens me, since I loved The Prince of Tides so much. So I have to give Beach Music three and a half out of five Whatevers, since I wasn't aching to return to it when I put it down. Next, I'll be reading Fatal Light, a review book from LibraryThing, which I've put off for far too long.