What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher R. Beha
In this novel, Charlie, a struggling writer, meets his college girlfriend, Sophie Wilder, again for the first time in years. She’s also a writer, but one who has stopped writing. The novel alternates point of view between Charlie’s first person narration and Sophie’s story in the third person. After breaking up with Charlie, Sophie had converted to Catholicism, married young, and is in the process of a divorce. She also nursed her father-in-law through his final illness. Her strange relationship with the man estranged from her estranged husband, and all of the detailed descriptions of his suffering, are some of the most intense and disturbing passages of the book.
The ending surprised me, so I won’t spoil it, but I will say I found it pretty bleak. One of the surprises was almost so subtle you could miss it. The one good part of the ending is that Charlie begins writing again, and presumably the book that Sophie inspired will be better than his first. It’s implied that the book itself is his attempt to make sense of Sophie’s story. The book is well-written, but I found it depressing, so I didn’t like it as much as I expected to.