Immediately banish any memory you may have of this movie. I have seen the movie, although it took me about half-way through the book to realize it, and the movie is a shade of what the book is. However, in defense of the producers, I can see why they would make it into a movie; people should know about this story.
This book was so good. (Chandy-you can rest safe-you did not over-hype the book!) I cried, laughed, cringed, laughed some more. All in all, Pat Conroy did an outstanding job in developing these characters. Have you ever read a book and wished that the characters actually existed? I feel this way about Pride and Prejudice, and I feel this way about the Wingos. As much as I despised everyone at some point, they were all real and flawed and wonderful.
Also, although the book is over 600 pages, I didn't find that it lagged at any point. Maybe the ending, but I am not sure the story lagged or if it was me anxious to find out what happened. As a self-professed editor, I was unable to find any story that didn't matter, which is why the movie was doomed in the first place. How can you take a 40 year story and condense it down adequately to 2 hours? I just don't think you can. In any case, I didn't take out my theoretical red-pen and line-out whole stories. I loved them all.
One of the books most interesting themes was the kids relationship with their parents. The Wingo kids simultaneously hated and loved their parents. Their childhood was not ideal, far from it, yet their childhood created children wholly unique. And the grown children could not fully fault their parents. Even still loved them. I thought about how most children go through this process with their parents in their adulthood. Adult children usually have to work to an understanding and love for their parents, no matter how ideal their childhood.
I found Conroy's story very moving and redeeming. Thank goodness for the redemption! In this case I did not wonder if the author was being untrue to his characters when he resolved things in a sweet way. I felt it was an authentic ending.
I hope you'll read it. It is worth the time it takes to read. Two thumbs up from this amateur book critic.