Review: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Profound Relief! That was the feeling that I experienced after finishing Pat Conroy’s saga about the sufferings of a (US) Southern family. And at 650 pages plus, the suffering was way too long…

Tom Wingo, who had once settled down to be a mediocre man but has ended up as a failure, receives a visit from his estranged-mother Lila Wingo who tells him that his twin-sister Savannah, a gifted-poet, has once again attempted to kill herself. Tom travels to New York to assist in the recovery of his siter. He meets Dr. Susan Lowenstein, who is treating Savannah, and starts recounting the nightmarish story of their childhood. And the remembrances go on and on and on….In between he also falls in love with the doctor, teaches football to her surly son, teaches a lesson to her snobbish husband, recovers his confidence, makes some kind of peace with his past, and returns home to his wife and three daughters though every day he has to chant the words Lowenstein, Lowenstein to get through the day.

Had I not been determined to finish the book this year (after years of starting it and putting it down), I think I’d have left the book right after the time a father admires the ‘lovely, perfectly shaped behinds’ of his pre-teen daughters.

Except for a few passages describing Tom’s father Henry’s experience as a pilot during the second world war when he is given refuge by a German priest or Tom’s brother Luke’s denunciation of the US’ involment in Vietnam (which is frequent) and the dropping of the bombs on Japan (which is rare), the novel is one big d-r-a-g. At a point in the novel, the narrator says:

It was the poet going public for the first time, cocky with the majesty of words that she used like a peacock fanning his gorgeous tail feathers for the sheer joy of ostentation. (464)

He might very well have been talking of the author.


First Line: My wound is geography.

Title: The Prince of Tides

Author: Pat Conroy

Publication Details: NY: Bantam Books, 1991

First Published: 1986

Pages: 664

Other books read of the same author: None

Trivia: The book, a massive best-seller, was made into a movie starring Barbara Striesand and Nick Nolte in 1991.


The book might be available in libraries or second-hand book shops. I bought it at the World Book Fair in 2008.


Submitted for various challenges.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

  1. Prashant, skip it forever. Trust me, you do not want to wade through 650 pages of physical and mental abuse, only to end up with a middle-aged man chanting Lowenstein, Lowenstein.


  2. Neeru – I had exactly and precisely the same kind of experience with this one when I read it. It was a huge disappointment to me.


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