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

William Styron
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (300 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.

 



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: 1506 KB
  • Print Length: 575 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (May 4, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JBFCEQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,126 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
158 of 166 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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68 of 72 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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59 of 65 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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29 of 30 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 Awesome Book
With words no fifth grader would know. Wonderfully told story with very long sentences. Details, nuances woven in the telling. Left everything in that was needed. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Karen L Jenneke
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly well written. I had read this book when ...
Amazingly well written. I had read this book when it first came back and wanted to re-read it. The story is heart-breaking but so well told that, even though I had read it before... Read more
Published 22 days ago by bluebird
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful book- loved every chapter.
Published 24 days ago by patricia a schneider
5.0 out of 5 stars Super work. I cannot believe I never got around ...
UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! Super work. I cannot believe I never got around to reading this earlier! After I read it, I watched the movie, which was also superb!!! Read more
Published 26 days ago by GrannyLindySue
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book, I would recommend to other readers.
Published 1 month ago by Cam Gladson
3.0 out of 5 stars ... book was in okay condition but certainly not "very good. "
The book was in okay condition but certainly not "very good."
Published 1 month ago by Kpdp
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read
A difficult read but should be done. Many people are ignorant about the horror of concentration camps or deny (for whatever reason) they ever existed. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pam P
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't know if his is the movie or both as ...
Don't know if his is the movie or both as I purchased both. Movie does not have captions so I will never be able to watch it.
Published 2 months ago by PHANRANG KID
1.0 out of 5 stars Glad I didn't see the
I was surprised at how much I did not care for this book. Glad I didn't see the move
Published 2 months ago by Teresa M. Vatan
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking
Breathtaking sadness. Nathan and Sophie were destined to find each other and finish out their lives together. The ending couldn't have been more proper.
Published 2 months ago by Linda M. Harp
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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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