Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sophie and the Rising Sun

Sophie and the Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh is a short, sweet, and simple romantic novel taking place during World War II.  Part of the story is being told by Miss Anne, a kind and quietly unconventional woman; she doesn't know all the details, however, so the rest is filled in for us.  The story is of Sophie, a woman raised by her strict mother and aunts, and whose only real indiscretion being her love for a young man who never returned from the Great War.  Then there is Mr Oto, a first-generation American who was sent from California to New York with funds to bring back a relative who had come over from Japan.  He loses the money, but too ashamed to face his family, he makes his way south, where he ends up in the small town of Salty Creek, Georgia.  Mr Oto is a soft-spoken and respectful gentleman, and soon becomes friends with Miss Anne, who has hired him as her gardener.  Every day as he works in the flowerbeds, he sees Sophie walk by the house, and it is not long before he is completely infatuated with her.  The two grow very close over time, as they meet every Sunday in the same spot by the river to paint.  

Things change very quickly, though, when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.  Everyone in town except Miss Anne and Sophie have been under the assumption that he is Chinese, but they know it likely won't be long before the growing anger toward the Japanese causes them to react anyway.  He is already not the most well-liked individual, what with being colored in the pre-Civil Rights South, and Miss Anne fears for his safety.  She makes a plan to hide him, and makes up a story that he's gone to Canada to be with his family.  The lies weigh heavily on her, and Mr Oto wonders whether he will see Sophie again.

Like I said, this book is very short, simple, and sweet.  Mr Oto is not my kind of man, but he's a dear and the way he's basically crushing on Sophie makes him seem about half of what his age really is, and I wish I could really see his painting of Sophie as his Crane-Wife.  Miss Ruth is a nosy bitch and every word about her made me irritated; what bothers me the most about her, I think, is that there really are people like her in this world.  By contrast, I loved Miss Anne and Big Sally.  They were probably my favorite characters, and for some reason every time Big Sally was around, I craved hushpuppies.  I liked Sophie well enough - despite her upbringing making her rather inhibited and reserved, she doesn't fall totally into step with the other women in the community; she sets crab traps, for example, which also makes me hungry.  

This is a story partly about love, and partly about that love not being confined to social constructs like race.  For those of you who like their romance toned-down, this is especially a book for you, I think, as there is no smut at all.

I received this book as a review copy through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, so a big thanks to LibraryThing and Bell Bridge Books for selecting me and sending it out!  I enjoyed the book, and will be looking out for others by Trobaugh as well.  Also, according to the review copy, this book is in development as a motion picture.  So that will be fun to see, now that I've read it.



Belle Bridge Books

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