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Dale Loves Sophie to Death
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Dale Loves Sophie to Death

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  283 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Robb Forman Dew's cult first novel explores themes of familial and romantic bonds as it tells the story of a woman whose husband stays behind in New England while she and their children spend the summer in her Midwestern hometown. ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 19th 2001 by Back Bay Books (first published January 1st 1981)
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Average rating 3.23  · 
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Jessica Medved
Dec 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
I was not at all a fan of this book, which is surprising because I am an easy to please reader.

I felt as if the book was literally about nothing. The wife and husband have different plans for the summer and the book is about what each of them do and think during that time. But there is no real plot point or focus. No issue to be resolved or feelings to discover. No character growth. It is literally about the two months they are apart and that is all.

There were a handful of well written prose i
Sep 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
I was 17 when I first tried to read this book, and none of it stuck to me. I didn't understand the protagonist's need to spend time in her small home town when it obviously made her sick, or her need to reconcile with a father who was distant and trying; I hated the husband for his disloyalty; I blamed them both for all of their failings and failures, and I saw no reason for those two people to be married.

Oh, what a difference over a decade makes. With some experience, and age, I get it now. I
Claire (Clairby11xxx)
(2/10) This might be a bit unfair seeing as I only read a chapter and a half but I was so bored I just didn't care enough to continue, if the whole book continues in the same minute introspection I'm glad I stopped, give me a book with a story anyday!

From what I read I hated Dinah, she cares far too much about herself and her own thoughts. The only person I liked was her mother because she picked up on the fake illness and rolled her eyes at it exactly as I did, this is definitely not my kind of
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
From the title I was expecting some deep passionate story, but nothing really happens. I kept waiting for a real story line, but instead got a character study. It focuses on the unresolved conflicts between a woman in her 40's(?) and her parents. Since I am past that age and my parents are no longer in this world, the family tensions and resentments are not relevant to me now. There seemed to be a lot more irritation than happiness in this family.
Apr 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
I had 6 hours in an airplane and NOTHING else to read but this book. I read the airline magazine and the safety & exit pamphlets numerous times and still I could not bring myself to finish this book. I even tried to skip around hoping that a chapter would grab my interest and nothing. Note to self: make sure you've read some of the book before committing to it and bringing it on an airplane. ...more
Feb 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
What horrible characters. And so much angst! Nonstop, it was awful. I only finished because a morbid sense of curiosity impelled me to keep reading and see if anything ever happened. Answer: not really.
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
There's something lovely about this portrait of gracious living in a small Ohio town. The intimate, episodes, elegantly detailed and loosely interwoven, recalls Virginia Woolf. Nothing much happens, although love manages to be affirmed in spite of family dysfunction. ...more
Aug 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
It was pretty boring.
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Martin and Dinah, a married couple in their late 30s, with three children under the age of 11, spend each summer apart. She returns to the town in which she grew up in Ohio, where her mother, father, and older brother live. Her parents are divorced. Marin stays behind in their home in the Berkshires teaching at a local college and editing a periodical he and a friend founded a ew years ago. If I had to described the novel n a few words, I would say that it is a story about family, marital relati ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it

She had particularly remembered the immense pleasure her father had taken in the startling panorama of the blossoming gladioli, which speared the air with their scentless and waxy height and color. He had cut masses of them for the house, but Polly disdained them. She claimed that they had no delicacy, and Dinah thought, now, that that had been a telling point. Her father could not or would not see how gauche such blatant flowers would be to Polly's aesthetic tastes.

Before she had left
Nov 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
A friend loaned me this book as a "you gotta read". Let me first say if someone asked me what this book was about I would have to say - marriage. There are many couples (none of them named Dale or Sophie) and we view their marriages. Our main characters are Dinah and Martin. Dinah goes back to her family home with the kids for the summer and Martin stays to work at their current home. I didn't like any of the characters so therefore I didn't care what happens to them. Dinah was indifferent to he ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
I am currently reading this book. The title caught my attention, and the meaning of the title, I suppose, is eventually revealed, but I am about ready to move on to another book. I do not mind character driven books, in fact I prefer them, but I am finding the writing style plodding and too formal for my taste. ( The flavor of the previous book I read is sticking with me and I can't shake it.) The setting is a small town in Ohio, near Columbus, and I am imagining Granville, O. That's what keeps ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Dinah is age 36 and still trying to understand the melancholic foundations of her childhood, as she returns every summer with her own three children to burrow into memories of her hometown of Enfield, OH. Her introspection matches her malaise, both potentially tedious for the reader, but it was a thoughtful meander through issues of family and love.
Martha Tetrault
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book,which indicates and open mind. Finished it and still wondered as I had through why. The protagonist seems self-absorbed, martyred, perpetually angry and in short, not like able. The husband is similar, as are the other characters. Too bad. I usually like debut novels and this won the National Book Award. I must be missing something.
Miranda Marchese
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I can't see how this won the National Book Award. If I were being more charitable, I would say that it was an attempt to do a Mrs. Dalloway-esque novel with a setting and time period update, but Robb Forman Dew is no Virginia Woolf. Parts of the book are good, but other parts go by at a snail's pace. I didn't really care about any of the characters in the novel, especially the husband- I felt like his parts of the novel weren't really needed, or could be eliminated without changing any ...more
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was ok
National Book Award winner. Hmmmmm. Neurosis wins the day. I kept waiting for revelation, not happiness necessarily. But nothing came at all.
Brandi Collins
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
The writing for this "story" was beautiful. I enjoyed the author's descriptions of the setting and the character's thoughts, but this was more of a character study than a true story. I learned a lot about Dinah and why she was stunted from her childhood, but I didn't really feel like there was much of a plot or true resolution. The three-star rating is mainly for the quality of the writing. ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up at the library on a whim, and ended up reading nearly the whole thing while standing in the aisle. Weighing in at a slim 217 pages, Dale Loves Sophie to Death is a quick read... but not a light one.

From the jacket blurb:
"Dew's astonishing debut illuminates the varieties of romantic love and the unexpected rewards of family life as it tells the story of a woman whose husband stays behind in New England while she and their three young children return to her midwestern town to
Jun 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This novel follows a family through a hot summer in Ohio. Nothing tremendously dramatic happens and the characters are all fairly normal Americans going about their lives but by the end of the book we feel we know them inside and out.
This book is beautifully written and Dew subjects her cast of characters to deep analysis -- she is much more penetrating and observant when examining her invented people than most real humans are about themselves. She sees everything but she refuses to judge.
The au
Beautifully written, with penetrating observations, but not a fast action plot, so will be frustrating for those who want a story. More a study of a family in the trying circumstances of daily living.

The title comes from graffiti scrawled on a highway overpass. It becomes a landmark for the family, signifying they're approaching home, and a touchstone for thought for the main character of the book. It reminded me of the restaurant in Syracuse, I think, called Pinhead Susan's. For years, there h
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
This novel explores the inner life of an at-home mom who spends her summers in her hometown in Ohio with her kids while her husband stays at home on the East Coast. In Ohio, she stays in a house across the street from her estranged father. She has issues, and she and her husband have issues. It's well written, but the subject matter is not really riveting. ...more
Linda Van
Aug 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This sensitively written novel, which I first read in the early eighties, bears up well after twenty-five years. The ways in which personal tensions arise and are resolved in families and in marriages are described intelligently and carefully.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars
Gretchen Temby
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
I would certainly read more from this author. I was very engaged by the fascination and beauty she found in the small things in life.
Aug 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Dense but still flowing prose, though little action and overall a strangely off sense. Odd. but I like it so far.
Sue Kozlowski
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Okay. Debut novel. I found it difficult to understand what the writer was trying to say.
Karen Krieg
An exploration of people and the need to relive the past and forget it all at the same time.
Edna Foster
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Highly descriptive writing, but not much of a plot. I seem to be on a roll of reading books with unlikeable characters. Dinah was a real pain--everything seemed to anger her. Who needs that!?
rated it liked it
May 05, 2015
Holly Quinn
rated it liked it
Jan 06, 2015
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Granddaughter of US poet, essayist and political writer John Crowe Ransom. Godfather was US poet, essayist, academic Robert Penn Warren. Grew up between Baton Rouge, LA and Ohio, well-connected to Kenyon Review writers and artists. Attended but did not graduate from Louisiana State University.

Her first novel - Dale Loves Sophie to Death - won the 1982 National Book Award. She has taught at the Iow

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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