Before I review, let me say that Pat Conroy is one of my favorite writers. His writing is greatly influencing the novel I am writing right now: The Belly of the Church. I’ve read many of his books.
While it is true that “South of Broad” is a love letter to the city of Charleston, it is also a love letter to the English language. Never have I read an author with such a comprehensive mastery of English. Whereas many writers may attempt to connect with their readers by using a common denominator of sorts in their use of vernacular, Mr. Conroy boldly and poetically embraces his vast vocabulary to create the richest possible world that words can create. However, his language alone could not make this novel as powerful as I believe it to be. He uses his substantial powers of imagery and literary precision to tell a story that borders on epic. His writing is honest to the degree of astonishing beauty, profound human wisdom, and harsh brutality. “South of Broad” is as strong a novel as Pat Conroy has written and perhaps the culmination of his writing prowess.