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Dale Loves Sophie to Death: A Novel Paperback – September 19, 2001

2.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robb Forman Dew is the author of The Time of Her Life, and Fortunate Lives, as well as a memoir, The Family Heart. She also was a teacher at Iowa Writers' Workshop and has contributed stories to Southern Review and The New Yorker, among others.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (September 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316890669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316890663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,216,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John H. Lewin on September 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book years ago, when it first came out in hardback, and it has stayed fresh in my memory. The title refers to a spray-painted sign on a highway overpass that the family references each summer on it's way back to visit the extended family in the heartland of America. While visions of getting centered en famille overtake the mother in this tale, she neglects the danger confronting her own children, ignoring signs of malaise until she is forced to relinquish her dreams, and deal with reality. All the characters are well drawn. My heart went out to every one of them......things do happen that aren't anyone's fault, and happen when you least expect them. All the characters change, grow, adapt....in very realistic ways, and there is a kindness in the way the author tells their story. It's easy to understand how it won the National Book award; what isn't easy to understand is why it was never made into a movie----i feel like I've almost seen it, because Ms. Dew's descriptions are so visual, and her characters are so appealing.
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By A Customer on April 20, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I simply can't recommend this book highly enough! My book club read it, and we are all about the age of the book's protaganist. We all began to realize, as we discussed this amazing book, that we, too, had unintentionally neglected out children--and the other people we love best in the world--while always meaning to do the right thing. We, too, had to learn how to forgive ourselves and our families in order to finally grow up. And we laughed in recognition of our own foibles in the character of Dinah, and her "perfect" friend, Pam, and of poor Martin who misses his family. We are a coed book club, and we try to alternate between "women's" and "men's" books. We decided that this book filled the bill for both! I am so surprised to find negative reviews of this lovely book. It has changed my understanding of my own life!
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Format: Paperback
What a waste of the author's considerable writing talent - every character in this dreary, depressing story is self-absorbed, amoral and unlikable. The main character is Dinah, the mother of three children under age 10, whose baseless obsession with past wrongs leads her to return every summer with her children, but without her husband, to a rented house in the Ohio town where she grew up. Dinah's profound and exaggerated sense of victimhood pervades her entire existence and her utter self absorption prevents her from conducting any sort of meaningful adult relationship and seriously compromises her ability to care for her needy young children. Every character in this book, from Dinah's philandering, thoughtless, left-behind-husband and her neglected, constantly complaining children, to her borderline sociopath psychiatrist father and her vague, ineffectual mother are well-drawn but without any redeeming human qualities to make them seem warm or even interesting. Skip this early (yet somehow award-winning) effort, and instead read "The Evidence Against Her" in which the author does an much better job of depicting nuanced characters who are humanly flawed but far more interesting to read about.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I decided to read one of Robb Forman Dew's books after reading a conversation between Ms Dew and one of my favorite authors Anne Tyler. Ms Dew writes quite differently than I expected but her characters are very real. I am looking forward to reading another of her books
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Format: Paperback
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 and hears everything but she refuses to judge.
The author remains studiedly neutral even when the husband has a brief and foolish affair and the wife willfully neglects the health of one of her kids. The characters are sometimes appealing and sometimes maddening and always quite real.
That's the strength of the book. The weakness is that by the end one can't help wondering a little why it's been worth the time and investment to get to know these people who are so uniformly ordinary and mediocre.
But I think the author's intentions go beyond that. She's using these people to compose a portrait of a specific time and place -- the place being Smalltown Aywheresville America (the midwestern "heartland" venue being quite deliberately chosen) and the time the end of the 20th century.
So we're left with a very well-composed study of ordinary people living ordinary American lives with their pluses and minuses, their strong and weak points. By the end of the book, the reader reacts almost like one of the characters looking back at one of those golden summers of childhood and wondering what made it so wonderful.
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Format: Paperback
Real writers are hard to find, but Robb Forman Dew is most assuredly one of them. One falls at once into the dream of this book and doesn't leave it until the last page is turned. In scene after scene we meet a most believable family facing the strains of separation and the consequences of poor judgment, facing the complicated tangle of forgiveness. It is a seamless book, a perfect book club book, ripe with beauty, power, and wisdom.
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