Sometimes I end up reading a book I never intended to because someone recommended it. So I suppose it has a lot to do with who it was that recommended it and why. There are people like my sister who I know has excellent taste in books, while others like my friend Amy who also has great taste but more similar to my own. The Great Santini was recommended by my son’s teacher who personally knew Pat Conroy and we spent a bonding evening talking about our love of all sorts of books. I’m a huge fan of my son’s teachers at his preschool so it was a recommendation that gave me no hesitation.
The Great Santini is the nickname of the larger than life marine pilot father in the book. I sensed and confirmed it was a fictionalized version of Pat Conroy’s life. His pain and conflict over a father who is mostly abusive bully, but part fierce protector comes through very clearly. There is something a bit dated in the writing style (stilted?), but the story shines through. Conflictual parent/child relationships are a common theme in books, but the author obviously has firsthand experience and his observations of the subtle emotions within the children are relatable and touching. The father Bull (what a name…) does seem a bit one dimensional, but there are glimpses of otherwise. It’s also about the times – the South in the 60s with the racial tensions as well as the religious and sexual repressions. A lot is in this book. I overall enjoyed it.