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What Happened to Sophie Wilder

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What Happened to Sophie Wilder Cover

ISBN13: 9781935639312
ISBN10: 1935639315
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Charlie Blakeman is living in New York, on Washington Square, struggling to write his second novel and floundering, when his college love, Sophie Wilder, returns to his life. Sophie, too, is struggling, though Charlie isn't sure why. They've spoken only rarely since falling out a decade before. Now Sophie begins to tell Charlie the story of her life since then, particularly the days she spent taking care of a dying man with his own terrible past and the difficult decision he presented her with. When Sophie once again abruptly disappears, Charlie sets out to discover what happened to Sophie Wilder.

Review:

"Beha's debut novel (after the memoir The Whole Five Feet) is a thoughtful journey about the place of intellectual curiosity in relation to faith, friendship, and love. Charlie Blakeman is enamored of Sophie Wilder, fellow creative writing M.F.A. student. They spend hours talking, writing, and reading before Sophie decides she needs a break and disappears, for days or sometimes weeks, but always returning. Then, a betrayal causes a longer breach. Both Charlie and Sophie publish novels, but only Sophie's is acclaimed. Struggles with their second books push Sophie toward Catholicism. When she drops back into Charlie's life, he wants to pick up the pieces, whereas she has a hidden agenda. It's difficult to empathize with Sophie, even when she's trying to do the right thing, because she's so blatantly indifferent to the harm she causes. The stories she tells are manipulated to make them better, and readers also see Sophie through the stories Charlie tells, raising the potent question: where does the real Sophie end and Charlie's interpretation of her begin? Beha is smart enough to let the reader decide. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"In this smart short novel What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher R. Beha, a young writer deals with the reappearance and disappearance of the woman he sometimes loved." Oprah Magazine

Review:

"Beha's writing is clean, unpretentious, and commanding in its seeming simplicity. He knits Charlie and Sophie's stories together in a seamless, intricate weave, offering an exploration of just how powerful stories can be." Foreword Magazine

Review:

"A crisis of faith is key to the disappearance of a young woman in Christopher Beha's What Happened to Sophie Wilder (Tin House), which deftly renders the competing impulses — creative, intellectual, emotional — of young writers in New York." Vogue

Review:

"Christopher Beha's short but intricately constructed first novel tells the story of two young writers struggling to discover their personal and professional identities, but it's not another excursion through the world of New York's literati. Instead, What Happened to Sophie Wilder is a somber character study focused on the problem of human suffering, the nature of religious belief and the acceptance of moral responsibility." Shelf Awareness

Review:

"It takes courage to write a book placing sincere religious feelings at the very center of contemporary young, urban life. Chris Beha — a writer mature beyond his years — has done just that in What Happened to Sophie Wilder, a modern fable of faith and doubt, ambition and love, written with tender sentiment and striking moral intelligence. Open this book and you'll find the grain of our talk and the soul of our thought rendered at once exotic and utterly recognizable." Jon Raymond, author of Rain Dragon

Review:

"Christopher R. Beha's What Happened to Sophie Wilder manages, somehow, to read both like an auspicious debut and a veteran achievement: it offers at once the vivid, old fashioned pleasures of a classic bildungsroman and a frighteningly intelligent contemporary take on the ambitions and limits of storytelling and faith. It's a glass-and-steel penthouse on a foundation of oak, and the most memorable first novel I've read in some time." Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction

Review:

"What Happened to Sophie Wilder is an old fashioned literary novel in the very best sense — thoughtful and intellectual, moving and well-wrought. Like its restless, yearning characters, it's not afraid of the big questions, God and love, work and love, friendship and love, and yet the solace this impressive debut finds lies as deeply in the page as in the flesh or the spirit. Beha has managed to produce a book that is satisfying for anyone who reads in order to live." Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life

Review:

"What Happened to Sophie Wilder is an imperishable gift of storytelling, a novel built sturdily of wisdom, beauty, and love. Christopher R. Beha writes with Jamesian sophistication about the enduring enigma of our inner lives, and the result is a title character who will dwell in you always." William Giraldi, author of Busy Monsters

About the Author

Christopher R. Beha is an associate editor at Harpers Magazine and the author of a memoir, The Whole Five Feet. He contributes frequently to the New York Times Book Review. What Happened to Sophie Wilder is his first novel.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Jim Simpson, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Jim Simpson)
Novels concerning main characters who are young, freshly published novelists living in New York City can be quite self-conscious and didactic, but Christopher Beha's debut (he is also the author of a memoir, The Whole Five Feet, about his time spent reading the Harvard Classics fiction collection) is a quiet yet compelling conversation between two very different characters who've written two very different books. Charlie Blakeman's book is a critical failure, while Sophie Wilder's is a resounding success and she's bound for a stellar career; however, it will be the only book she will ever write. The two meet in a college creative writing class in NYC, and Charlie becomes obsessed with the elusive Sophie. They have a brief affair and then she disappears, turning up later married to another classmate. We spend much of the novel learning of Sophie's time spent with her husband's estranged and dying father, and her conversion to Catholicism. Reading this book, I felt just as eager to find out what happened to the mysterious Sophie Wilder as Charlie Blakeman did. Not a perfect debut, but well worth the time.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
confiteorbenedictus, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by confiteorbenedictus)
Right up front I have to say this is a qualified recommendation--this book frustrated me more than once. Beha is a talented writer, and perhaps "What Happened to Sophie Wilder" is a sign that he is on a trajectory to write much better (and less MFA-ish) books. I did not find the characters ultimately compelling and their shallowness was a turnoff. There are some fine moments here, but they are spoiled by an overpowering sense of "Look, here's a literary work." Regarding the religious aspects of the book: they are too pat. I am reminded of "Catholic" writers such as Greene, Waugh, and Godden, but Beha is not yet in their league...but I'm rooting for him to make it there.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781935639312
Author:
Beha, Christopher R.
Publisher:
Tin House Books
Author:
Beha, Christopher
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Paperback, Deckle Edge
Publication Date:
20120531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
7.75 x 5 in

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What Happened to Sophie Wilder Used Trade Paper
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Product details 256 pages Tin House Books - English 9781935639312 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Beha's debut novel (after the memoir The Whole Five Feet) is a thoughtful journey about the place of intellectual curiosity in relation to faith, friendship, and love. Charlie Blakeman is enamored of Sophie Wilder, fellow creative writing M.F.A. student. They spend hours talking, writing, and reading before Sophie decides she needs a break and disappears, for days or sometimes weeks, but always returning. Then, a betrayal causes a longer breach. Both Charlie and Sophie publish novels, but only Sophie's is acclaimed. Struggles with their second books push Sophie toward Catholicism. When she drops back into Charlie's life, he wants to pick up the pieces, whereas she has a hidden agenda. It's difficult to empathize with Sophie, even when she's trying to do the right thing, because she's so blatantly indifferent to the harm she causes. The stories she tells are manipulated to make them better, and readers also see Sophie through the stories Charlie tells, raising the potent question: where does the real Sophie end and Charlie's interpretation of her begin? Beha is smart enough to let the reader decide. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "In this smart short novel What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher R. Beha, a young writer deals with the reappearance and disappearance of the woman he sometimes loved."
"Review" by , "Beha's writing is clean, unpretentious, and commanding in its seeming simplicity. He knits Charlie and Sophie's stories together in a seamless, intricate weave, offering an exploration of just how powerful stories can be."
"Review" by , "A crisis of faith is key to the disappearance of a young woman in Christopher Beha's What Happened to Sophie Wilder (Tin House), which deftly renders the competing impulses — creative, intellectual, emotional — of young writers in New York."
"Review" by , "Christopher Beha's short but intricately constructed first novel tells the story of two young writers struggling to discover their personal and professional identities, but it's not another excursion through the world of New York's literati. Instead, What Happened to Sophie Wilder is a somber character study focused on the problem of human suffering, the nature of religious belief and the acceptance of moral responsibility."
"Review" by , "It takes courage to write a book placing sincere religious feelings at the very center of contemporary young, urban life. Chris Beha — a writer mature beyond his years — has done just that in What Happened to Sophie Wilder, a modern fable of faith and doubt, ambition and love, written with tender sentiment and striking moral intelligence. Open this book and you'll find the grain of our talk and the soul of our thought rendered at once exotic and utterly recognizable."
"Review" by , "Christopher R. Beha's What Happened to Sophie Wilder manages, somehow, to read both like an auspicious debut and a veteran achievement: it offers at once the vivid, old fashioned pleasures of a classic bildungsroman and a frighteningly intelligent contemporary take on the ambitions and limits of storytelling and faith. It's a glass-and-steel penthouse on a foundation of oak, and the most memorable first novel I've read in some time."
"Review" by , "What Happened to Sophie Wilder is an old fashioned literary novel in the very best sense — thoughtful and intellectual, moving and well-wrought. Like its restless, yearning characters, it's not afraid of the big questions, God and love, work and love, friendship and love, and yet the solace this impressive debut finds lies as deeply in the page as in the flesh or the spirit. Beha has managed to produce a book that is satisfying for anyone who reads in order to live."
"Review" by , "What Happened to Sophie Wilder is an imperishable gift of storytelling, a novel built sturdily of wisdom, beauty, and love. Christopher R. Beha writes with Jamesian sophistication about the enduring enigma of our inner lives, and the result is a title character who will dwell in you always."
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