Sophie's Choice was possibly the most devastating book I ever read. After reading it, one can't stop remembering the tragic plot of a Nazi death camp survivor, her life in Poland and the camps and her post-war relationship with an unstable man in New York. However, the book is about much more as well. In the narrator Stingo's lyrical words, it is about a "voyage of discovery in a place as strange as Brooklyn."
The book begins with Stingo being fired/quitting a Manhattan publishing job and taking a summer off to write the great American novel in a rooming house in Brooklyn. Stingo is an innocent in life and the ways of love. In the rooming house, he meets the sensual holocaust survivor, Sophie, his upstairs neighbor and her across-the-hall neighbor and lover, the brilliant and yet haunted Nathan. It is odd that Nathan is the haunted one, because Sophie is a survivor of Auschwitz, the Polish Nazi death camp while Nathan is a pharmaceutical researcher with a beautiful lover.
Stingo immediately falls in love with Sophie, but is also impressed by Nathan who takes Stingo under his wing as his protege of sorts. Stingo spends the summer writing and trying to lose his innocence in the ways of love. The plot lines dealing with the latter are graphic and may turn some people away. But people too young to be exposed to the language probably shouldn't read this book anyway because of the explicitness of the holocaust plot.
Sophie gives clues about what happened to her in Poland during the war both inside and outside the death camp, but nothing prepares you for the actual final story she tells about her experiences. Reading that story will almost make you forget the beauty and lyricism of the rest of the book, but in looking back, you will realize that the book is an amazing combination of the beauty of life and the horror of it all twisted together in one perfect whole.
I heartily recommend this book.