4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The question leads the story,
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This review is from: Who Was Sophie?: The Two Lives of My Grandmother - Poet and Stranger (Paperback)
This is one of those stories that linger and haunt long after you've turned the last page and put the book on the shelf. The story is 'true' in so far as the writer, Celia Robertson, has gathered all the fragments she can trace of her grandmother's broken and chaotic life and somehow retrieved a narrative. But she acknowledges that the narrative remains incomplete - that we are left with the question 'Who was Sophie?' - and it is to the writer's credit that she lets the question lead the story.
On one level, this is a tale of someone who appeared to have so much going for her and ended with so little, but I think the strength of the book is that it allows us - the readers - to take what we want from it. For me, it's about that borderline we spend so much time trying to ignore - 'there but for fortune', as the song goes. And it's a challenge to the self-help brigade who persist in chirping on about choices . . because sometimes life just happens, or other people's choices override our own. Sophie didn't choose to leave her children. But despite all the hardships of her later life she retains a sort of crazy dignity - and we are not left feeling sorry for Sophie.
The author's own involvement in the story makes it all so real, and yet her presence doesn't detract from the star of the book who was Sophie. Definitely one of my must-read-agains.
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Initial post: 1 Jul 2010 23:27:27 BDT
John Massey says:
I know Jan Woodhouse personally - in fact it was me who introduced her to Who was Sophie. (I grew up in the Nottingham of Sophie's final days - not the most forgiving of cities!). As far as I am concerned, this is one of the best things Jan has ever written - she gets right to the heart of the magic and tragedy of Who was Sophie.
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