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3.5 out of 5 stars
43
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 19 September 2016
The story was based more on the writer and his life than Sophie and her choice. Some chapters were very interesting and others very disappointing and long winded. The choice itself came at the end of the book and was not given enough focus.
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on 30 September 2015
Amazing book, couldn't take my eyes off it!
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on 29 August 2010
I genuinely have no idea why this book is considered such a classic. Every inch of the story is long and drawn out, simplistic things are over analysised and too detailed and yet this fails to add anything to the enjoyment of the book or to the overall story. The first few chapters are so earth shatteringly dull that i wanted to cry, nothing of any interest happens other than the inclusion of a pointless background surrounding the equally dull main character. My hopes that the book would improve were raised once the main character FINALLY meets sophie. I am surprised at my self for thinking this would increase either the excitement or even the momentum of the story, once again nothing happens for chapters and chapters minus the odd tiny upset in an otherwise mundane world. The controversy surrounding sophies 'choice' adds up to all of a few lines near the end of the book but still adds little to the story.

I know you are reading this and thinking 'but this is such an admired novel; surely it is worth giving it a read regardless of these negatives reviews from the faceless people on amazon?'. But i urge you not to bother.
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on 21 September 2014
Thought id re read this after last reading it at school. I had forgotten how heavy going it is. Not sure I will finish it as keep putting it down, not a good sign.
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on 18 June 2016
Confusing, dull and overrated.
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on 8 September 2016
Probably the most tense and difficult read you will have encounter. A heart rending story.
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on 23 August 2010
Not what I expected exactly.
From what was an exceptionally interesting start (as others here have pointed out), the book becomes sillier and sillier. Rated as a classic I don't know if this was Styron's first novel but it sure as hell feels like it. There are just so many lines here of and to develop. So many different story lines and so many places this book could have gone that you wonder why it went where it did. What develops is Sophie's unravelling of her story of survival through Auschwitz to New York and her spider-and-fly relationship with Nathan. This is told through her half-lies, double stories and confessions. Through the narration of virginal Stingo emerges a series of scenes which become less and less believable. I felt more drawn to the story lines that were hinted at but not developed and became less and less interested in the book's denouement as it became more and more unbelievable. Should a book be believable? In this case where Styron wants to carry the reader, a definite yes. So close but still too far away to be a top rater.
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on 6 August 2015
I love this book, very well written and characters well crafted.
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on 7 October 2003
I was soundly disappointed by this book. The concept is great. The execution, though, is sorely lacking. The novel's first chapter or so is very promising, but Styron's novelistic technique just does not hold up to the gravity of his topic. Sophie's tale is narrated through Styron's younger alter-ego 'Stingo', having met Sophie in New York shortly after the end of World War 2. Sophie's harrowing confessions are interspersed, incongruously, with Stingo's adolescent sexual fantasies about the various girls who refuse to 'give it up', and the sections where Sophie is supposed to be speaking are rather clumsily placed and actually poorly crafted. Stingo's sexual fantasies, combined with the way ex-Auschwitz inmate Sophie is described in terms of her oozing Polish sexuality, along with the grotesque accounts of her sexual abuse, reduce the potency of what promises to be an earth-stopping work of fiction and actually makes it rather offensive on many levels. Styron also, confusingly, mixes fiction with fact: Rudolf Hess pops up as a character, and Styron includes quotes by theoreticians (such as Hannah Arendt) to bolster his case, if he has a case. Unfortunately, the impression gleaned is that of a man who has read the beginner's guide to the holocaust and now believes he has the answer to the meaning of life and man's inhumanity to man etc etc etc. Mr Styron has, however, been afflicted (apparently) with rather a limited intelligence, or at least one that has been badly compromised by his ego (from which the reader is never distanced). None of these aspects in themselves make for a bad work of fiction, and Styron could have got away with these flaws if he was, quite simply, a better writer. Ultimately, the only interesting thing about this book is Sophie's central dilemma, the gravity of which is insulted by Styron's grating ineptitude; and if you already know what Sophie's choice is, or if you have seen the film, don't bother reading this. And if you don't know, just watch the film. The film isn't that good either, but you'll waste less of your time on that than on this overlong, overblown piece of pseudo-literature.
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on 3 July 2011
Styron gives us in 600 pages a view of the life of Stingo in 1947, an aspriring writer, in the round - including his employment and love life - but with the centrepiece being his relationship with Sophie and Nathan, a survivor of Auschwitz and her boyfriend, who works for a drug company but who himself might have become a writer and who becomes Stingo's closest friend, even as he also falls in love with Sophie.

It's a very considerable achievement - much more fully realised than the film - and the one thing that might get in the way of enjoyment and appreciation here is the very ornate style of Styron the novelist. It's almost as though Cicero has been let loose on a wide range of narrative elements, mostly tragic, occasionally comic, and always prompting reflection in the reader - and is a little distancing. Having said that, I do think Styron has really brought alive life in 1947 USA and has really successfully integrated into this Sophie's experience in the concentration camp and Nathan's "back story".
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