Thursday, February 12, 2009

Postscript on The Prince Of Tides

I finished this sumptuous book while still on holiday down the beach. Picking it up and taking myself down to the sunroom for some unlimited reading time was more luxurious to me than a visit to a day spa. The mornings were chilly while away, and I'd get under the doona of the sofa bed and snuggle while Pat Conroy's evocative words transported me to a world far away, see-sawing between the lowlands of South Carolina and the stylish streetscape of Manhattan.

Since finishing the book, I've raved about it to anyone who'll care to listen. I've already passed it on, and I have two on the waiting list to read it. All for a book that cost me 50c at the school fete.

Quite simply, it was one of the best books I've ever read, and I did little analysing while I read. I was too busy being mesmerised by the rich prose. Never one for poetic descriptions of scenery, I found that Conroy's long passages on the sea islands of South Carolina never became tiresome. Infinitely fascinating would be a more fitting description. With a masterful stroke of his pen, he was able to convey in a depth rarely seen in many novels, the love Tom Wingo felt for his beloved island and surrounding coastline.

While I still had access to the computer, I posted a few 'Literary Gems' from the book. These were passages that entranced me with the beauty of words or by the deep insight into character or situations. Some novels are lucky to possess only one or two of these types of moments, but in the case of The Prince Of Tides, I could have picked out a passage of such brilliance every two or three pages - sometimes more. If I hadn't been computerless, I could well have kept on posting, and I'm sure by now I'd be up to 'Literary Gem # 159). But by the time I returned home, I was already into my next novel, which was a good thing, since posting the 'Literary Gems' was more intended to tease and entice than to spoil the experience for others.

I wish I hadn't seen the movie before reading the novel. Admittedly, it's been many years since I saw it, and that helped me to think more in terms of the story rather than the screen adaptation. As with many great novels, the book was far, far better than the film, since it concentrated in greater detail on the life of the Wingo family as the children were growing up. The entire point of the novel is the backstory, and Conroy houses the novel in the past more than the present. From memory, the film did the opposite. There is so much told about the family that couldn't be covered in a two hour film, and it's these events, so sensitively conveyed, that enrich the novel in a way that is beyond a film-maker's limitations.

Now I look forward to my friends reading it so we can discuss it. I wholeheartedly give this book 5 stars!

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