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Sophie's Choice

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  82,576 ratings  ·  2,587 reviews
Three stories are told: a young Southerner wants to become a writer; a turbulent love-hate affair between a brilliant Jew and a beautiful Polish woman; and of an awful wound in that woman's past--one that impels both Sophie and Nathan toward destruction. ...more
Paperback, Vintage International Edition, 562 pages
Published March 3rd 1992 by Vintage Books (first published 1979)
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Cesar Ozaki Yes, on the same boat. After working hard to reach half of this book, I decided to turn pages only reading when the main names appeared.
So, I finished…more
Yes, on the same boat. After working hard to reach half of this book, I decided to turn pages only reading when the main names appeared.
So, I finished (in just 2 hours after this !) and my conclusion is this classic is a classic because of the main theme (holocaust). Boring book.(less)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  82,576 ratings  ·  2,587 reviews


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Julie
We are like lutes once held by God.
Being away from His warm body
fully explains our constant yearning
.
--Hafiz

I started Sophie's Choice in a busy hotel lobby, awaiting my visiting sister's arrival, having no idea I was going to be immediately introduced to a 22-year-old Southerner named Stingo and the first of his many erections.

His erections? What?

I went into this read almost “blind,” knowing only that the author, William Styron, received the Pulitzer for fiction in 1968 for The Confessions of Na
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Walker Smith
Shelves: 1940s, ww2, poland
”Mercifully, I was at the age when reading was still a passion and thus, save for a happy marriage, the best state possible in which to keep absolute loneliness at bay. I could not have made it through those evenings otherwise. But I was an abandoned reader and, besides, outlandishly eclectic, with an affinity for the written word--almost any written word--that was so excitable that it verged on the erotic. I mean this literally, and were it not for the fact that I have compared notes with a few ...more
Monty Merrick
Apr 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Readers who like being emotionally manipulated by horny narrators
It seems a lot of people have a problem with the prose being pretentious and overwritten. However, I had a big problem with the unfolding of the plot. This was a strange book for me because I really wanted to like it and even thought I liked it after I was finished. It took me about a week to think back and realize, Wait! That was a crappy book.

Problem number 1: I personally found Sophie to be an unbeleivable character. I just thought she was not-fascinating and contradictory, like, not in the
...more
Candi
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
“The landscape and the living figures of that summer, as in some umber-smeared snapshot found in the brittle black pages of an old album, had become more dusty and indistinct as time for me unspooled with negligent haste into my own middle age, yet that summer’s agony still cried out for explanation.”

Humor, Brooklyn, mental illness, eroticism, and the Holocaust. Sounds like an unlikely concoction for a novel, doesn’t it? This was totally unexpected! The only knowledge I had going into this is th
...more
Aaron Mccloud
May 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone smart
William Styron's "Sophie's Choice" has to stand as one of the 20th century's great American novels. Based very loosely on his own experiences in the late 1940s in New York, Styron makes himself into a writer called Stingo who moves into a boarding house in Brooklyn, where he meets a Polish emigré named Sophie and her dangerously unpredictable lover, Nathan. With great delicacy and restraint, Styron traces the evolution of the friendship and love that entangles these three and which has stunning ...more
Dolors
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those not afraid of evil
Recommended to Dolors by: sckenda
“Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.” Emily Dickinson

Styron brings the Brooklyn of the forties and its flourishing intellectualism back to life through the eyes of three characters, whose irreconcilable pasts find a common ground in the sweeping vision of optimistic America, distancing the narrative from stereotyped clichés and with the inimitable diction of a true Southern voice.
A lush, descriptive prose soaked in an a
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Sophie's Choice, William Styron

Sophie's Choice is a 1979 novel by American author William Styron. It concerns the relationships between three people sharing a boarding house in Brooklyn: Stingo, a young aspiring writer from the South, and the Jewish scientist Nathan Landau and his lover Sophie, a Polish Catholic survivor of the German Nazi concentration camps, whom he befriends. The novel was the basis of a 1982 film of the same name.

Stingo, a novelist who is recalling the summer when he began
...more
Lawyer
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: Based on readings of other works by William Styron
Sophie's Choice: William Styron's Novel of Choices, Hobson's and Otherwise

This novel was chosen by members of On the Southern Literary Trail as a group read for September, 2014.

 photo SophiesChoice_zps7b4caf75.jpg
Sophie's Choice, First Ed., First Prtg., William Styron, Random House, New York, New York, 1979

 photo arbeit_macht_frei_zps774bfb03.jpg
The gate to Auschwitz, where those in charge choose who lives and who dies

Life is but a series of choices, is it not? Some easy, quickly made, given no further thought. Others are more difficult. We worry about t
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is truth and there are lies – and in between we walk tortuous paths of our lives.
Perhaps I should say she indulged in certain evasions which at the time were necessary in order for her to retain her composure. Or maybe her sanity. I certainly don’t accuse her, for from the point of view of hindsight her untruths seem fathomable beyond need of apology.

So it is with Sophie’s Choice – there is truth and there are lies.
And to get to the truth one must peel off so many layers of lies. And somet
...more
~Bookishly
Jun 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bleh
I should probably begin by stating that my copy of Sophie's Choice has taken up residence under my stairs, in a plastic box, next to where all of the other dire books I have been unfortunate enough to read, are currently residing too, until I am able to donate them to the book farm, or anywhere apart from under my roof.

This book took me way too long to read than I'm happy with, and the sole reason for that is; it was a terrible book. I had been aching to get to this book, and after reading the
...more
Andrew
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
I stuck with it out of curiosity, not so much to find out what her choice was, but because this is supposedly an important American novel and I kept waiting for the "Aha!" moment when it would finally get good. Unfortunately it was just way too long. I now know what it's like to suffer from too much foreshadowing. It was so tiresome reading hint after ominous hint about what was going to happen.

The narration was clumsy and over-explanatory. Do you really have to recap an event that you just nar
...more
Pedro
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just after I turned this novel’s last page I felt slightly conflicted about the way I felt about it and also about how to rate it. My “problem” with it had nothing to do with anything else but its structure and how much had been told using flashbacks and by shifting perspectives. I always tend to find these narrative devices kind of manipulative, distracting and most of the times unnecessary.

But here, with this one, somehow the writing saved it all for me and I read those (long) flashbacks (nea
...more
Matt
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The term “Sophie’s Choice,” which derives from a critical plot point in William Styron’s eponymous novel, has become a prominent American idiom. You’ve probably heard it in your daily life. It was the subject of a relatively well-received movie starring Meryl Streep. Certainly, you’ve come across it if you’re a fan of The Simpsons. (A Sophie’s Choice joke is the kicker to Season 10, Episode 5’s “When You Dish Upon a Star”).

Despite its prevalence in the cultural landscape, I’m not going to assum
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; National Book Award
It was good that I missed the Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of this book when it was shown in 1985. My curiosity to find out what exactly was the meaning of the "choice" in the title, kept me leafing through the pages until it was revealed towards the end. There are actually two. Sophie, the beautiful Polish (non-Nazi) Holocaust survivor has to choose who to end up with between her two lovers, the Jewish Nathan Landau who is a crazy junkie but who brought her to America and the struggling Ame ...more
Alex
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who thinks they are safe
Styron gets knocked for two reasons. The first is that he's an appropriater: in his Pulitzer-winning Confessions of Nat Turner, he appropriated the famous slave revolutionary's story, and here he's taken the Holocaust. As he's neither black nor Jewish, some black and Jewish people are like wtf are you doing with my history. The second knock is that he writes clear and exciting prose with a lot of fancy words, leading Martin Amis to call him a "thesaurus of florid commonplaces."

"In my career as a
...more
Cheryl
Confessional monologues to serve as counter narratives.
Flashbacks from an American boarding house to Auschwitz.
An intriguing love triangle.
Secrets and lies unfolding with each new chapter.
Sex, written with meticulousness.

This is how Styron gets you to stick with this intricately woven and stylistically stupendous novel.
For synchronous with the stunning effect she made on my eyes as she stood there arrested in the doorway--blinking at the gloom, her flaxen hair drenched in the evening gol
...more
Petra-X Off having adventures
One of those books everyone else loved and I loathed. I thought the book was pointless and overwrought, rather like Meryl Streep's acting in the film of the same name. ...more
Himanshu
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Study in Faithlessness of Hope

OK, first let's get something over with. A young amateur (not so Southern) writer comes to Brooklyn, meets a Polish émigré, falls straight away in love with her. But this Holocaust victim, tattooed on her hand, in her heart and soul, Auschwitz's purgatory, is hopelessly in a nondetachable love, lust, anguish, masochistic, and redeeming relationship with a Northern Jew. And this prejudiced yet genius of a charmer, suffers from fatal capricious fits. Having foun
...more
Amber
Sep 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Amber by: BookBags
By the time I learned the "true" story and the big reveal I just didn't care anymore. It is horrible that this is based on millions of true stories but this particular story could have been more succinct. ...more
Elise
Oct 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I finally finished it, yes all 600 pages, and my reaction to "Sophie's Choice" is mixed. I spent years urged by friends to read this book, but I was afraid of what I would find in its pages, especially being a mom. It turns out my fears were completely unfounded.

This book is not at all what I thought it would be--a moving story of one woman's time at Auschwitz and the awful things she endures there as a mother. That description covers only about 10% of what happens in this novel. "Sophie's Choi
...more
Ned
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan
Alright I am very late to the party in reading this classic.

Sophie’s Choice is quite simply a masterpiece and Styron’s command of prose here is unsurpassed. There are quite literally hundreds of lines that were perfectly rendered.

I have added Sophie’s Choice to my six star fiction bookshelf, an homage to the great books.





William2
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20-ce, us, fiction, genocide
I've read it twice, maybe three times. I hope to read it again someday. ...more
Moses Kilolo
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
First, I liked everything about this book:
Stingo,
Nathan,
& Sophie.

And the way everything that went down in Auschwitz is narrated here is very heartbreaking, just as is the relationship between Nathan and Sophie. But the question that resounds, as Styron asks, is: At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God.

Well, we may blame God as much as we wish, or even do as Sophie did and say 'FUCK God and all his Hande Werk.' Or resolve to the thought that stuff like Auschwitz makes us lose faith in humanity,
...more
Erika
May 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
Well, I finished it. And I despised every moment of it, from the writing to the characters. Maybe I just don't understand or appreciate a writing style such as Styron's, but I just found it incredibly tedious and tiresome to wade through all of Stingo's incessant (and lust-fueled) rambling. I hated him and in turn ended up absolutely hating Sophie and Nathan. When you reach the climatic point in the novel and you don't feel even the slightest twinge of anything other than, thank god this means i ...more
Nadine Doolittle
Sep 28, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously, one star is a bit dramatic. I didn't like this book but it was beautifully written--Styron is no slouch with words--and the characters and situation were vividly drawn. The "choice" Sophie had to make was a hellish one and unlike some reviewers here, I was deeply affected and I thought it explained a lot about her character. By contrast the lives and issues of Stingo and Nathan seem thin and pathetic. Which they were. Which was the problem.

A writer once said (I think it was Vonnegut)
...more
Nathan Oates
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone on earth
Recommended to Nathan by: Amy Wilkinson
I read this book at Amy's prompting and found it one of the most complex reading experiences of my life. At times, I hated this book: the elaborate, excessive prose style, the occasional and hideous homophobia (not excusable by it's placement in the consciousness of the character, in my opinion), the adolescent attitude toward women and sex (again, not excusable) and yet, despite all these moments of frustration, this is an immense and beautiful and even great novel. The writing about the holoca ...more
Marquise
For a story premise that's catchy and original, this is one Dreck of an execution, as bad as to induce anger at encountering this poor handling of a serious theme.

As this is a classic novel, surely there's hundreds of reviews better and more articulate than mine, so I'll only list my main grievances, and do so as succintly as possible:

Prose: Frankly, this was one of the most pedantic and overwritten proses I've ever found; so pretentious and wordy it makes it difficult to concentrate on the plot
...more
Thomas
Sophie's Choice revolves around three characters and three story lines. The protagonist, Stingo, is an aspiring writer from the South who stumbles upon Sophie and Nathan when moving into his apartment in New York. Sophie serves as the beautiful and damaged love interest, a Polish woman and a survivor of Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp. Nathan, a handsome and successful biologist, brings both darkness and light into their lives. Stingo's journey as an individual and a writer, Sophie's troubl ...more
Laurel
There is a lot going on in this book. There is the story of Sophie, a beautiful Polish woman deeply scarred by her past and the incredibly heart-wrenching choice she was forced to make while a prisoner at Auschwitz during the holocaust. There's the story of her present day, turbulent love affair with an often violent, drug-addicted man and all the many complexities involved in an abusive relationship. There's also a hint of the irony of segregation and racism in post WWII America. And there's an ...more
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William Styron (1925–2006), born in Newport News, Virginia, was one of the greatest American writers of his generation. Styron published his first book, Lie Down in Darkness, at age twenty-six and went on to write such influential works as the controversial and Pulitzer Prize–winning The Confessions of Nat Turner and the international bestseller Sophie’s Choice.

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Someday I will understand Auschwitz. This was a brave statement but innocently absurd. No one will ever understand Auschwitz. What I might have set down with more accuracy would have been: Someday I will write about Sophie's life and death, and thereby help demonstrate how absolute evil is never extinguished from the world. Auschwitz itself remains inexplicable. The most profound statement yet made about Auschwitz was not a statement at all, but a response.

The query: "At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?"

And the answer: "Where was man?”
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