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Sophie's Choice (Open Road) [Kindle Edition]

William Styron
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)

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Book Description

 

“Styron’s most impressive performance. . . . Belongs on that small shelf reserved for American masterpieces.” —Washington Post Book World
 
Winner of the 1980 National Book Award, Sophie’s Choice is William Styron’s classic novel of love, survival, and regret, set in Brooklyn in the wake of the Second World War. The novel centers on three characters: Stingo, a sexually frustrated aspiring novelist; Nathan, his charismatic but violent Jewish neighbor; and Sophie, an Auschwitz survivor who is Nathan’s lover. Their entanglement in one another’s lives will build to a stirring revelation of agonizing secrets that will change them forever.
 
Poetic in its execution, and epic in its emotional sweep, Sophie’s Choice explores the good and evil of humanity through Stingo’s burgeoning worldliness, Nathan’s volatile personality, and Sophie’s tragic past. Mixing elements from Styron’s own experience with themes of the Holocaust and the history of slavery in the American South, the novel is a profound and haunting human drama. The result is Styron at the pinnacle of his literary brilliance.
 
This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives.

 


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Stunning. . . a triumph. . . . A dazzling, gripping book.” —Chicago Sun Times
“Splendidly written, thrilling . . . A passionate novel.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A monumental work of fiction.” —The Christian Science Monitor

From the Inside Flap

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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1939 KB
  • Print Length: 575 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679736379
  • Publisher: Open Road Media; Reprint edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JBFCEQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,210 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a new favorite August 21, 2006
Format:Paperback
In Sophie's Choice, William Styron does a masterful job of telling a horrific tale in bearable way. Sophie is a Polish Christian who survived 18 months in Auschwitz before the camp was liberated by the Allies. Of course her story is heartbreaking. But Styron unfolds the tale in a way that allows the reader to take it all in without being crushed by the sadness of it.

First, instead of marching out the story of Sophie's capture and imprisonment in chronological order, Styron layers it on, each layer building on the next. When the 22-year-old narrator, Stingo, a Southerner who moved to Brooklyn to write novels, first meets Sophie in the summer of 1947, she gives him only the briefest of versions of her experience in the war. It is only as they grow closer as friends that Sophie, through a series of drunken encounters, provides more details to Stingo, each time admitting that she had lied to him before in earlier versions of her tale.

By presenting the horrifying particulars bit by bit, Styron seems mindful of the warning, and even quotes Stalin as saying, that a "single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." The reader sees the tragedy of Sophie's experience because, by offering just a little at a time, Styron allows the reader to digest her story, along with a great deal of information about the Holocaust in general. If Styron had presented her story in full from the beginning, the awfulness would be numbing.

Also, Styron balances Sophie's tragic past with her tragic present in Brooklyn. In love with Nathan, a brilliant drug addict subject to violent fits of jealousy, Sophie has no chance of building a "normal" life in America. But, given her experiences in the concentration camp, it is impossible to imagine how she could.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily Good on Many Levels December 7, 2001
Format:Library Binding
Sophie's Choice almost lost me in the first thirty pages or so, but thank goodness I hung in there. A tragic yet surprisingly non-depressing story (at times humorous, at times sad, but always compelling and riviting) of three people, Stingo (the narrator, a Southern youth yearning to be a writer living in the utterly strange world of New York), Nathan (Sophie's lover, brilliant, fascinating, and troubled) and of course Sophie, the beautiful Polish Auschwitz survivor who utterly captivates Stingo's imagination, who become, as Stingo quotes Sophie, "the closest of friends." And the friendship this lonely Southern young man develops with these two exotic (to him) individuals is at the heart of this compelling novel. Styron's story actually weaves together two stories: that of Stingo's journey of self-discovery "in a place as strange as Brooklyn" and that of Sophie, a "bruised and battered child[ren] of the earth," whose gently playful personality stuggles to survive her guilt about her past and her passionate but difficult and sometimes shocking relationship with Nathan. Styron accomplishes the difficult task of making the reader appreciate, understand, and even admire the character of Nathan by telling his story through Stingo's eyes, so despite Nathan's flaws, and indeed Sophie's as well, the love Stingo feels for them both is believable and moving. The gradually revealed tale of the concentration camp is grim and realistic, and Sophie's telling of it illuminates the source of the guilt which is destroying her : her choice, or choices--for there are many choices, although the one referenced in the title stands starkly, horrifying alone. Read more ›
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evil and madness March 2, 2000
Format:Paperback
William Styron has written a profoundly moving and disturbing novel with 'Sophie's choice'. The story of Sophie, a beautiful Polish Catholic who survived Auschwitz and was left with no family, and Nathan, her schizophrenic American Jewish lover, as related by Stingo, a naive but sensitive 22 year-old Southerner wishing to be a writer, is, perhaps, one of the most harrowing stories one can manage to read. Styron evidently conducted a considerable amount of research on the Nazi occupation of Poland and the hideous dynamics of their concentration camps, and his synthesis through Sophie (whose name, etymologically, means knowledge) is convincing and compelling. But what makes 'Sophie's choice' go beyond a mere historical novel is the excellent way in which Styron weaves Sophie's story with those of Nathan and Stingo and the deep ruminations on the nature of evil and madness and their consequences. Although Styron sometimes gets long-winded, especially when he has Stingo ponder about sexual matters, the novel succeds in making us understand a sad historical event in more humane terms. Perhaps a creative university professor teaching World War II history would be wise enough to assign this novel to make students realize that history is not, as somebody once facetiously said, 'one damn fact after another'.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The American Canon Is Incomplete Without This Novel March 2, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Often compared by literary critics to Toni Morrison's 1987 Beloved, for the choices women and mothers are forced into under the most desperate of circumstances and conditions, William Styron's 1979 novel Sophie's Choice is a non-step textual tugging at the heart. In spite of the long passages replete with narrator Stingo's onanistic details (he hasn't gotten any, so the irony is, of course, that he lives in a place called the "pink palace"...hmmm...what's that a euphemism for?), this novel of a Holocaust survivor is not easily put out of one's memory. There are few books I internalize and metaphorize and carry around with me; this is one of those books. The humorous description of the McGraw/Hill publishing offices in Manhattan in the late 40s is a superbly hilarious way to open this novel. We are then introduced, at a rooming house in Brooklyn, to Sophie Z. and Nathan Landau, two of the novel's central characters. We learn that Sophie is a Catholic Pole who survived Auschwitz, but is still haunted by a "choice" she was forced to make while there. I agree with my fellow critic who states that the scene of Sophie's choice (set in the novel on April 1st, nonetheless, echoing, I would assume, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man)is so dramatically underplayed that I had to re-read it three times to make certain I didn't miss some critical nuance. Styron's choosing to portray the scene from which the novel's title comes as quietly and near the end as possible is a stroke of literary brilliance and keeps the reader page turning without end to find the answer to the question: What was the "choice"? Of course, in the course of the novel, Sophie Z. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Sophie's Choice
I loved the movie and have seen it many times. The movie is true to the book so there are no surprises. Oddly i prefer the movie version. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Rick
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophie's Choice
I was very touched by this book. This is my second reading and I've seen the movie twice too. It was as compelling this time as the first time. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Carol King
5.0 out of 5 stars A literary classic.
Styron, of course, is a wonderful writer. Book is very graphic in sexual scenes which some may like ,some not.
He is very wordy, makes a very long read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Fallon
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
I almost didn't read beyond the first few pages. The autobiography of a writer who talks about his writing ? How narcissistic can you be ?

It was a narrow escape. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Donatien
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophie's Choice is a good read.
Thank you for the new copy of a modern-day classic. I enjoy reading this and will watch the video soon. Thanks again, Amazon.
Published 3 months ago by Donelle M. Knudsen
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF FIVE TOP CLASSIC NOVELS IN US HISTORY
William Styron is unquestionably one of the giants of American literature. The writing in "Sophie's Choice" is exquisite. The story is truly captivating and harrowing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M. Tomory
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
A true classic about a tragic event in the history of mankind. Hard to put down..it is a must read.
Published 3 months ago by P. Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Long, but informative
Although I have not yet finished the book, I am engrossed with the descriptions of Auschwitz and the Nazi side of World War II. The story has many parts, all of them entertaining. Read more
Published 3 months ago by lpierce
5.0 out of 5 stars A simply incredible book
Sophie's Choice is one of the best books I've ever read. And this is coming from someone who is an avid reader. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bob Gerson
5.0 out of 5 stars High in the list of "Best Books I've Ever Read"
This is a book for all times. It will stay with you for the rest of your days. The characters are so vividly real that the reader can almost touch and talk with them.
Published 4 months ago by Carma's Kid
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More About the Author

William Styron (1925-2006) , a native of the Virginia Tidewater, was a graduate of Duke University and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His books include Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March, Set This House on Fire, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, This Quiet Dust, Darkness Visible, and A Tidewater Morning. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Howells Medal, the American Book Award, the Legion d'Honneur, and the Witness to Justice Award from the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation. With his wife, the poet and activist Rose Styron, he lived for most of his adult life in Roxbury, Connecticut, and in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, where he is buried.

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