The novel Beach Music, by Pat Conroy is about Jack McCall, who is a man from the south of the U.S. who travels overseas. He travels to try to put his wife’s suicide and his family problems behind him.
For starters, there’s this gem:
“But no one walks out of his family without reprisals: a family is too disciplined an army to offer compassion to its deserters.”
This really conveys Jack’s bitterness about his family and previous life at the beginning of the novel when the novel-long conflict is being set up, namely Jack’s search for a family secret.
Many of the other chapters in the book have quotes about dealing with painful memories, such as Jack’s wife and her suicide. An example includes:
“I could bear the memory, but I could not bear the music that made the memory such a killing thing.”
The focus on memory is pervasive in the novel, including these evocative passages about Jack’s wife-
“Because she deserved my tears if anyone on earth ever did. I could feel the tears within me, undiscovered, and untouched in their inland sea. Those tears had been with me always.”
“Her laughter was a shiny thing, like pewter flung high in the air.”