Rating: 5/5 stars.
Sophie’s Choice revolves around three characters and three story lines. The protagonist, Stingo, is an aspiring writer from the South who stumbles upon Sophie and Nathan when moving into his apartment in New York. Sophie serves as the beautiful and damaged love interest, a Polish woman and a survivor of Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp. Nathan, a handsome and successful biologist, brings both darkness and light into their lives. Stingo’s journey as an individual and a writer, Sophie’s troubled past, and Sophie and Nathan’s tumultuous relationship all come together in a convoluted, intensely passionate triangle that will break readers’ hearts.
This was my first time reading Styron. While his writing was not as superb in the literary sense as that of other authors, his prose conveyed all of the emotion essential to the story. Sophie’s Choice reads like an addictive drama, sucking people in and slowly latching onto their hearts – and at the end, all heck breaks loose.
The development of the characters and the conflict amazed me as well. This book reminded me of Wuthering Heights, as Styron masterfully manipulated the narration and the timeline of events by using flashbacks. This allowed him to foreshadow certain occurrences and keep other revelations secret.
One minor issue I had while reading was the amount of sex. I understand that Styron included it to portray the mindset of a twenty-something-year-old man and to incorporate humor into his work, but at times it felt gratuitous. The book could have been more concise and effective if someone had eliminated some of Stingo’s sexual thoughts and explorations.
However, I would recommend Sophie’s Choice to everybody because of how beautifully and powerfully Styron tackled themes like oppression, mental illness, abusive relationships, etc. Get ready to cry, or at least feel serious heartbreak when you reach the end. It speaks to the evil mankind is capable of, for anyone to have to make anything similar to Sophie’s choice.