Destination: Charleston, South Carolina
Book: South of Broad by Pat Conroy
A Guest Post by Brette Sember
I recently ravenously read Pat Conroy’s South of Broad, which is set in Charleston, SC.
Ever since a family vacation to the Low Country (we stayed on Hilton Head, but also visited Savannah and Charleston) I can’t get enough of novels of the south. I’ve read my way through Anne Rivers Siddons and Dorothea Benton Frank books. I’m enchanted by the Low Country. There’s something about the salt water creeks, Spanish moss, live oaks, pluff mud, crabs, and sweet grass that sing a siren song to me.
Conroy‘s latest book is about a group of friends in Charleston. Some of them are wealthy and some of them are poor, but most of Conroy’s story focuses on life along the mansions of the Battery. When we were in Charleston, we drove along the Battery and marveled at the graceful homes with their genteel gardens. Their elegance and charm have always remained large in my mind.
Conroy brought all of this to life for me again, with his vivid descriptions of the homes and gardens, as well as the soul of Charleston – the people. Reading the book was like taking another tour through the city. I remembered the slave market (which is now a tourist shopping area), the graceful churches, Fort Sumter, the oppressive heat, the sweet grass baskets, and friendliness of the people. The book was like a mini-vacation for me.
Literature has also guided me on other mini-vacations to Hawaii, Maine, Nantucket, and Cape Cod, places I fell in love with and have been able to reinvent in my mind with the help of novels placed in those settings. What a gift it is to find a book that brings back to life everything you loved about a place you visited.
Wow! Thanks Brette, for giving me a novel that I must read before I finish off the 50 states by a road trip through the South. I totally agree with your philosophy about literature that inspires travel. Reader, do you have a favorite book that brought a place back to life for you? Talk to Brette.