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What Happened to Sophie Wilderby Christopher R. Beha
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
A heartfelt exploration of faith and love and friendship, What Happened To Sophie Wilder is a beautiful, absorbing work about the redemptive power of storytelling: a literary love story.
Charlie Blakeman has just published his first novel, to almost no acclaim. He's living on New York's Washington Square, struggling with his follow-up, and floundering within his pseudointellectual coterie when his college love, Sophie Wilder, returns to his life. Sophie is also struggling, though Charlie isn't sure why, since they've barely spoke, after falling out a decade before. Now Sophie begins to tell Charlie the story of her life since then, particularly the story of the days she spent taking care of a dying man with his own terrible past and of the difficult decision he forced her to make. When she disappears once again, Charlie sets out to discover what happened to Sophie Wilder. Christopher Beha's debut novel explores faith, love, friendship, and, ultimately, the redemptive power of storytelling.
About the Author
Christopher R. Beha is an associate editor at Harper's 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.
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