I picked up the audio version for free; downloaded it ages ago, thinking one day I’d give it a listen, but was hesitant. I knew a movie had been made of Pat Conroy’s novel, but I hadn’t seen that either.
Then I visited South Carolina, and it’s peculiar landscape intrigued me, and when a friend mentioned that this was the setting for The Prince of Tides, I became interested, and remembered that book that had been sitting in my collection, yet the 22 + hours of listening time seemed daunting to me.
I can’t explain any of it, except to suggest that maybe books find us when we are ready – like teachers that have been waiting in the wings and emerge just at the right moment.
The Prince of Tides is an epic tale of family dysfunction: the struggle to survive violence, madness, and an oppressive social standing. I saw my own father in Henry Wingo, a shrimper and dreamer, whose failure to connect with his children creates long lasting chasms. I shared Tom’s anger for a mother who insisted they pretend nothing happened, just as my own mother tried to cover up our family’s secrets. And my heart wept for a sister driven to madness by the insanity of it all, just as my sister had been.
Conroy writing is lyrical – he is an artist, whose words, like intricate brush strokes, paint a masterpiece depicting the wonder of a South Carolinian landscape and the angst of the family who knew it as home.
Conroy himself attributes the novel’s success to Frank Muller’s narration, who reads the piece convincingly, as if he is the voice of Tom Wingo.
Prince of Tides is timeless, and merits a read, or even better, a listen. You might just find an echo of yourself, as I did.