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Review: The Death of Santini

April 7, 2015

The Death of Santini

Pat Conroy‘s family could be the poster child for dysfunctional families.  His father Don was a Marine pilot who ruled his wife and seven children with an iron fist.  Pat, his mother, and siblings were subjected to both physical and verbal abuse – it’s no wonder so many of them suffer from depression and other mental illnesses.

Pat escaped his family when he went to college and felt some relief when his parents divorced.  Years later, in an effort to get his life in order, Pat made a peace of sorts with his father.

Pat Conroy wrote a fictionalized version of his relationship with his father years ago in The Great Santini and has recently written a memoir about it in The Death of Santini.  I found some of his story gut wrenching and horrifying but I found all of it fascinating.  I’ve always loved Conroy’s writing and this book was no exception.  I have to admit reading a true story of abuse can be tough but this story has many redeeming qualities, starting with the writing.  I was happy to see that, even though the Conroy family is splintered, Pat was able to make peace with his father before his death.

I listened to the audio version of The Death of Santini and am sad to say that I wasn’t crazy about Dick Hill’s narration.  That didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story though – I thought it was terrific, even when I was cringing.  Fans of Pat Conroy won’t want to miss this book.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
17 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2015 5:18 am

    I don’t. Know anything at all so probably it won’t be of interest to me. Thanks for the review

  2. April 7, 2015 6:45 am

    I read & loved Beach Music, but was disappointed with The Great Santini (reviewed here). Conroy’s writing is so lush and evocative and I guess I wanted more of that rather than read a novelization about his abusive childhood. With that said, I really have no interest in this memoir, but will be happy to re-read Beach Music sometime in the near future.

  3. Diane permalink
    April 7, 2015 7:04 am

    I do like Pat Conroys fiction, but never considered reading this one until now. Thanks for sharing Kathy.

  4. April 7, 2015 8:32 am

    I read this one when it first came out…and I love all things Conroy (and Great Santini was one of my favorites of his), but I liked this one a little less than the others. I remember thinking he came across as a bit pompous and the writing was a bit overdone at times. But, overall very good still!

  5. April 7, 2015 10:02 am

    This is the only Conroy that I haven’t read. 3 of his books (My Losing Season, South of Broad, Beach Music) are in my top 24 all-time. I just never got around to this one. I guess I need to.

  6. April 7, 2015 10:03 am

    HI Kathy,

    Pat Conroy is a new author to me and as much as ‘The Great Santini’ and ‘Death Of Santini’, may have been thinly disguised fictional accounts of his own family and life, they sound far too biographical for my liking and not to my reading taste at all.

    I am also not a huge fan of audio books, so I can imagine how disappointed you must have felt that the narrator didn’t quite do this book the justice it may have deserved.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and views 🙂


  7. April 7, 2015 11:03 am

    I think I read Beach Music ages ago. I think. This one sounds a little rough. I had no idea that author has such a troubled childhood.

  8. April 7, 2015 12:00 pm

    I have not read a Pat Conroy book but his books do come heavily recommended. I should try and give his books a try.

  9. April 7, 2015 1:03 pm

    I’m a Conroy fan, too, but never considered reading this. Will look for the print version though.. thanks.

  10. Patty permalink
    April 7, 2015 3:09 pm

    My thoughts are the same as Ti’s…I read Beach Music years ago and saw the movie with Barbara Striesand and Nick Nolte…or was that from a different book?

  11. April 7, 2015 3:46 pm

    This book sounds interesting! I’ve had My Reading Life on my list to read for a while.

  12. April 7, 2015 6:43 pm

    I haven’t read any of these books before. But sounds like a good one.

  13. April 7, 2015 8:55 pm

    Kathy, this does sound like a book I’d also enjoy. Terrific review!

  14. April 7, 2015 11:50 pm

    Pat Conroy is an author I’ve never read but keep meaning to read. This memoir sounds good!

  15. bookingmama permalink
    April 8, 2015 8:16 pm

    I love just about anything Pat Conroy writes so I’m really looking forward to this one.

  16. April 10, 2015 9:33 am

    I’ve never read The Great Santini, but the movie was very powerful.

  17. April 11, 2015 10:17 pm

    I’ve never read Conroy but I have picked up the one on his reading life here and there and have liked it. Sounds like making peace with his father was hard but one that too many run out of time to do. He is lucky in that regard probably.

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