Thank you so much Counterpoint Press for sending me my very first advance reader hardcopy, The Lost Prince: A Search for Pat Conroy, in exchange for an honest review.
Counterpoint Press reached out to me after noticing that I was a big fan of Pat Conroy, and sent me Michael Mewshaw’s memoir titled The Lost Prince: A Search for Pat Conroy. Mewshaw recounts his relationship with author Pat Conroy, from the smallest passing of phrases to their intimately deep conversations.
Introduced to each other over the phone, Conroy contacted Mewshaw as a fellow writer and US expat living in Rome, Italy, desperate to make a friend. With similar self-depreciating humors, inquisitive minds, and eloquent writing styles, their families became immediate extensions of the other. Over time they weathered many storms, including family feuds, marital problems, writers block…but they also celebrated many successes, such as book sales, movie deals, and family milestones. The two men created such a balance between them, even when, to the outsider, one would seem to have more than the other.
While Mewshaw recollects how their lives became entwined, he also relays how they seemingly fell out of step. As quickly as Conroy became a success professionally, his personal life took a terrible dive. Mewshaw, stuck in the middle of friendship and professionalism, had to navigate the waves of Conroy’s depression and yet remain a neutral party. In doing so, he was able to share the whole truth of Conroy’s life.
I will admit, I never read anything by Mewshaw prior to this memoir, but I have to say that I was absolutely fascinated by his ability to write as if he were sitting next to you, relaying his tale in person. In The Lost Prince, I feel that I truly got an idea of what kind of man Pat Conroy was- persuasive, animated, self-deprecatingly charming. I also felt that I go to know what kind of man Mewshaw is- pensive, studious, curious, and a consistently loyal companion. Throughout the novel, I could see how the two men where a good balance for each other, and I appreciated that within their relationship, they weren’t afraid to be forthright with the other. Nothing seemed off limits, and they didn’t pass judgement on the expression of their emotions.
Aside from their relationships, I enjoyed learning about these authors and their writing careers. I loved the concept of “digging for gold and finding uranium”, and admired the way the men handled that situation. I adored the way both men preferred to write long hand instead of typing, and that they wrote each other letters more often than emails. It’s almost a foreign concept these days, and it’s nice to think of each sitting at a desk and putting their thoughts down with pen and paper. I also enjoyed reading about their lifestyles, and how despite the differences in their incomes and family relationships, each had their own way of entertaining and finding adventure.
In the end, I found myself a little less enthused about the man Conroy became (or maybe always was) but as Mewshaw explained, despite his downfalls, he was still an admirable writer who never shied away from sharing the grittiest details of his life. I’m so appreciative that Counterpoint Press sent me this memoir, and I would absolutely recommend it to fans of both men and their works, as well as any writing professionals.