The writer Pat Conroy, who died on March 4 this year from pancreatic cancer, is buried in a Gullah cemetery on Saint Helena Island, South Carolina. He left behind his widow, the novelist Cassandra King, a loving family, and legions of devoted fans. But he also left behind decades of notes, correspondence with family and readers, and unpublished writings. A collection of those pieces will be released as a book entitled A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life on October 25, the day before what would have been Conroy’s 71st birthday.
The new volume gathers letters Conroy wrote about subjects ranging from favorite books to the deaths of friends. There are also interviews, speeches, magazine articles, and a handful of Conroy’s short nonfiction pieces, as well as tributes from Conroy’s many friends and a personal essay by King about their life together. Among the gems from Conroy himself is a letter he wrote last fall to his basketball playing thirteen-year-old grandson, Jack, after a particularly tough game (Conroy played point guard for the Citadel, the subject of his 2002 memoir, My Losing Season.) “I loved basketball more than anything on earth,” he writes in the letter. “But I had it under my command. I mastered the part of it I could, but first I had to master the passion and the fury that is the natural condition of the Conroy and the Giguiere males.”
After his untimely death in early 2016, Pat Conroy’s legions of fans were left bereft. Fortunately, this volume collects some of Conroy’s most charming pieces of short nonfiction, many of them addressed directly to his readers with his habitual greeting, “Hey Out There.” Ranging across diverse subjects such as favorite recent reads, the challenge of motivating to exercise, and processing the loss of dearly-missed friends, Conroy’s lighthearted and eminently memorable blogs offer a unique window into the life of a true titan of Southern writing. A Lowcountry Heart also includes some of Conroy’s most beloved speeches and interviews, and a beautiful introduction from his widow, the novelist Cassandra King. Finally, the collection turns to remembrances of “The Great Conroy,” as he is lovingly titled by friends. This moving tribute is sure to be a cherished keepsake for any true Conroy fan, and a lasting monument to one of the best-loved writers of contemporary American letters.
Author Cassandra King
Cassandra King is the author of five novels, most recently the critically acclaimed Moonrise (2013), her literary homage to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Moonrise was a Fall 2013 Okra Pick and a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) bestseller. It has been described as “her finest book to date.”
Fellow Southern writers Sandra Brown, Fannie Flagg, and Dorothea Benton Frank hailed her previous novel, Queen of Broken Hearts (2008), as “wonderful,” “uplifting,” “absolutely fabulous,” and “filled with irresistible characters.” Prior to that, King’s third book, The Same Sweet Girls (2005), was a #1 Booksense Selection and Booksense bestseller, a Southeastern Bookseller Association bestseller, a New York Post Required Reading selection, and a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month Club selection.
Her first novel, Making Waves in Zion, was published in 1995 by River City Press and reissued in 2004 by Hyperion. Her second novel, The Sunday Wife (2002), was a Booksense Pick, a People Magazine Page-Turner of the Week, a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month selection, a Books-a-Million President’s Pick, a South Carolina State Readers’ Circle selection, and a Salt Lake Library Readers’ Choice Award nominee. In paperback, the novel was chosen by the Nestle Corporation for its campaign to promote reading groups.
King’s short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Callaloo, Alabama Bound: The Stories of a State (1995), Belles’ Letters: Contemporary Fiction by Alabama Women (1999), Stories From Where We Live (2002), and Stories From The Blue Moon Café (2004). Aside from writing fiction, she has taught writing on the college level, conducted corporate writing seminars, worked as a human-interest reporter for a Pelham, Alabama, weekly paper, and published an article on her second-favorite pastime, cooking, in Cooking Light magazine.
A native of L.A. (Lower Alabama), King currently lives in the Low Country of South Carolina.
A new wife arrives at Moonrise, a forbidding old Victorian house in an eerily beautiful setting, (complete with a neglected nocturnal garden), hoping to be embraced by the family and friends of her new husband, a charismatic journalist whose previous wife died under mysterious circumstances. Instead, she finds herself rejected and reviled, unable to forge an identity apart from the lingering presence of her predecessor. No matter how hard she tries to gain acceptance from her husband’s daughter and his circle of friends, something–or someone–is determined to drive her away. Her arrival sets forces in motion, ultimately leading to the uncovering of long-hidden desires and tragic consequences of betrayal. She soon wonders if she can trust anyone, even the man she loves.
Set in the cloud-shrouded mountains of western North Carolina, at a summer vacation spot that attracts many of the wealthy from Atlanta and elsewhere, Moonrise combines du Maurier’s command of suspense, intrigue, and foreboding with King’s light approach to human foible.