The Prince of Tides

The epic story of the Wingo family living in the Town of Colleton ,South Carolina as portrayed by author Pat Conroy.

Narrated by Tom Wingo, a former football coach and English teacher loses his job  following a nervous breakdown after his older brother Luke, senseless and tragic death. He gets a phone call from his mother Lila telling him that his younger twin sister Savannah, a talented poet, attempted suicide a second time and he needs to leave to the New York hospital where she is staying. Tom agrees to go. He meets Susan Lowenstein who is assigned as Savannah's doctor.

He stays in his sister's apartment where he makes shocking discoveries that paint a much clearer picture to the reason of her second suicide attempt.

During the sessions with Dr. Lowenstein Tom describes the abuse violence and the one shocking , unforgettable event that occurred when during his high school senior year, which contributed to his sister’s suicide attempt. Also, the senseless death of his younger brother Luke. As the sessions continue, Tom learns the bitter man he became, the reason for his wife’s affair, and his hatred to life and society.

The Wingos were an impoverished family living around the 1950's, in the Colleton, South Carolina, on an Island called Melrose Island.

Father Henry Wingo a shrimper, cruel head of the family used physical and verbal abuse to ensure his sons remained tough and strong. An uneducated, drunk and foolish dreamer who made frivolous business purchases in hopes of one day striking it rich.

Lila Wingo the wife and mother who in her own strange reality believed she belonged to a much high society than what she married into. Throughout the book, Lila expresses sheer regret for her  marriage years with Henry, instead of a man with wealth and higher social standing in society. She is greatly influenced by the higher society women in the town.

At a later point in the story, Lila leaves Henry and marries wealthy landowner Reese Newbury.

Savannah Wingo a talented poet, who decides that  living in the South is an endless pit of existence and moves to New York to start a new life and she expresses her sorrows, and joys through her poetry.

Luke Wingo, a man who fought in the Vietnam War, an activist who fought guerrilla style to save his home Melrose Island after the government bought the county to build plants to develop weapons  He hid on the island and blew up bridges, killed four men to try and halt the project from moving forward. A deal was struck for Luke to serve a few years in prison if he agreed to surrender, which he did. Unfortunately, he was shot to death at the rendezvous point by a soldier who was not aware of the arrangement.

As Tom and Susan continue their sessions, their differences are outlined; Susan a wealthy Jewish psychiatrist married to a famous violin player Henry Woodruff. It is revealed the marriage is on shaky grounds, as Susan discovered Henry is having an affair. Despite these variances a romance ensues between Tom and Susan. She then asks him to try and teach football to her son Bernard; who  is expected to succeed playing the violin, but is rejecting that by wanting to play football, which he agrees then forms an interesting relationship with Bernard.

The story progresses with flashbacks to the past, as a reader you can see the personal life struggles each character tries to overcome. By the end of the story due to his extensive therapy with Susan, he becomes a changed man with a new outlook to life. His marriage is rekindled, he reaches a form of closure on his troubled life and past. Savannah recovers. The story concludes everyone will be able to move on despite their troubled past life.


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