A chronicle of love, humor, and creativity.
In 1995, at a gathering of the Southern Voices Literary Conference, Conroy (The Same Sweet Girls’ Guide to Life: Advice From a Failed Southern Belle, 2014, etc.) first met an author she deeply admired: Pat Conroy (1945-2016), whose 1986 novel, The Prince of Tides, had been a bestseller and was made into an Oscar-nominated movie. An “imposing and vibrant presence,” he exuded “an undeniable aura of magnetism and charm.” With her first novel due to come out, she was floored when he offered to provide a blurb and amazed a short time later when he called her—and kept calling her for the next two years. When he finally suggested that they meet in person, both felt as if they were old friends, and their relationship evolved into a love affair and, in 1998, marriage. The author brings her talents as a storyteller to a warm, candid memoir of their years together, ending with Pat’s death from cancer. When they first met, the author, recently divorced, was emerging from severe depression. Living alone in a studio apartment, she barely supported herself and her sons with various teaching jobs, trying to eke out time to write. Pat was divorced, too, although usually entangled in affairs; and he, too, had been left “depleted, despondent, and hollow-eyed with despair” after his last marriage ended. “I need someone to rescue me for a change,” Pat told her. She was buoyed by his humor and emotional generosity, though as she came to know him, she realized that he was “a complicated man who [hid] his deepest feelings behind a devil-may-care demeanor.” They nurtured each other’s creativity, publishing five books during their time together, and Pat pushed her to go on book tours to publicize her work. The author recounts in lively detail the stresses and joys of daily life: family gatherings, Pat’s recurring health problems, and their mutual love of the South Carolina marshland.
An ebullient portrait of a marriage.