01 July, 2011

Sophie's Choice

Author: William Styron
Genre: Fiction 
Audience: Adult 
Format: Kindle

Synopsis: In the years after WW II, Stingo, a southerner, relocates to New York to write his novel. There he is befriended by Sophie and Nathan, one a Polish Catholic survivor of Auschwitz and the other a New York Jew. But both hold secrets and their all encompassing love for each other puts all three friends on a path whose end is unknown.

What I thought: This was our book group book for June and it took me a month to read it! The last time it took me that long to read a book it was because I struggled. This I didn’t struggle with, but you need to READ it. Sophie’s story is traumatic and difficult. As Stingo relates it, you cannot help but be aware of his feelings for her. Nathan is a complex and dark character. One moment a true gentleman, a honest friend, his mood can swing in a instant, making him volatile and dangerous. Sophie is the lynch pin in the friendship between Nathan and Stingo. Without their shared love of her, I feel Stingo would have left Nathan to his destructive ways, would not have even pursued the friendship in the first place.
When we discussed this at book group, we agreed that in the end, Sophie was not a likeable character. She seemed completely unwilling or unable to do anything to help herself or try and change her situation. The book was dominated by male characters and a strong, unrelenting male voice and women in general were not portrayed in a favourable light at all. In the end, Sophie’s choice was not one, but many choices.
As a book group book, this is an excellent choice. It provides a lot of room for discussion and debate. I would be interested in reading further Styron books, especially The Confessions of Nat Turner which he refers to in Sophie’s Choice.

Recommended for: book groups. A great book to provoke discussion