What Happened to Sophie Wilder

Christopher Beha, Author
Christopher R. Beha. Tin House (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-935639-31-2
Reviewed on: 04/09/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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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. (June)
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