Cover image for Sophie and the rising sun
Title:
Sophie and the rising sun
Author:
Trobaugh, Augusta.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
213 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780525946274
Format :
Book

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Summary

Author Notes

August Trobaugh lives in Georgia.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Trobaugh's third novel follows her well-received earlier ones, Resting in the Bosom of the Lamb (1999) and Praise Jerusalem! (1997). Readers unfamiliar with the author will certainly experience the thrill of discovery, for Trobaugh's story of love lost and found in a small Georgia town sparkles with wonderful moments and expertly created characters. Mr. Oto, a gardener, and Sophie, a spinster who has spent her youthful years taking care of relatives, meet in the local hardware store, and a genuine affection blossoms between the two. The time is 1939, and war brings fear to the town and changes to the growing romance between the hesitant Sophie and the quiet Mr. Oto. Trobaugh's story succeeds not simply because of its two main characters but also for believability of all the individuals who inhabit the town, and readers who have not read her two previous novels are bound to want to rectify that situation. --Eileen Hardy


Publisher's Weekly Review

Part Remains of the Day, part wartime drama, this delicately written, somewhat didactic novel is set in Salty Creek, Ga., in the two years before Pearl Harbor. It focuses on Miss Anne, the moral center of the community, and on her recollection, years later, of the romance between town spinster Sophie and Grover Cleveland Oto, the California-born 50-year-old everyone thinks of as Miss Anne's "Chinese" gardener. Both Sophie and Oto harbor secrets. Sophie's is that the man she loved didn't return from WWI; Oto's is that happenstance and a Greyhound bus driver left him in Salty Creek, starved and in disgrace, far from his Japanese-American family. For two years the two are preternaturally aware of each other, but constrained from anything but brief, polite conversation. Each is a painter, and artistic imagination sustains both. In time, they fall into the habit of meeting at the riverbank on Sunday mornings with brushes and paper to work in companionable silence while the other townsfolk sing hymns at church. The requisite town snoop and the presence of Sophie and Anne's household help ensures that Oto and Sophie keep a formal distance, but as the author's lyrical flights intensify, so does the couple's suppressed passion. Then the war unleashes cruelty disguised as patriotism and forces Oto into hiding. As in her earlier novel Praise Jerusalem!, Trobaugh depicts in aching detail the isolation that racism occasions, and once again suggests the small but heartwarming triumphs made possible by human dignity and courage. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

It's 1941, and small-town spinster Sophie has fallen in love with a completely inappropriate fellow. Mr. Oto, a Japanese American gardener, years older, has captured her heart. The growth of their relationship is a gradual, tentative, even poetic event. However, the bombing of Pearl Harbor soon complicates this friendship. The townspeople of Sophie's Georgia burg are suspicious of outsiders and of any unconventional behavior. After the bombing, Mr. Oto must go into hiding while his landlady, Miss Anne, and Sophie both bravely conspire to hide and feed him. The end of the story brings the sudden disappearance of both Sophie and Mr. Oto, and it's up to readers to decide what this means for the protagonists. Trobaugh (Resting in the Bosom of the Lamb) has written another Southern novel featuring a beautiful and unusual love story. Recommended for all public libraries. Carol J. Bissett, New Braunfels P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Miss Anne said: Some folks in this town still think I know what really happened to Sophie-leastwise those folks old enough to remember Pearl Harbor and the terrible days that followed. Why, to this very day-over twenty years later-once in a while, somebody will say to me, "Miss Anne, you can tell me what really happened to Sophie, now that it's been so long." But I can't tell them. Because I was never sure. And I guess the reason they ask in the first place is that most of us still care about Sophie and want to know that she's all right. To be truthful, I guess everybody in town-leastwise those old enough to remember-always felt a little bit bad for Sophie, how she wasted all her youth and beauty-and to be perfectly truthful, there was precious little of the latter-taking care of her mama and those two old aunts. Everybody used to say that one day, Sophie would just up and run off and get married. When she was younger, I mean. But she never did. Guess you have to have a young man to do something like that, and I don't think there was anyone who was interested in her. There was a little talk about a beau, just before the Great War-World War One-but most of those boys never came home again. Boyd and Andrew and Henry and others whose names I can't remember now, so if there was ever someone who was interested in Sophie-and I doubt it-he must have been one of them. It really didn't matter, anyway, because if anyone had come around about Sophie, her mama and the aunts would have nipped that right in the bud. I'm sure of it. "Nothing lasts," her mama used to say. "So no use in Sophie getting started with it." Sophie's mama was always like that. Bitter, in general. And about men, in particular. How on earth she ever agreed to marry any man is beyond me. All I can say is that Mr. Willis must have slipped her some elderberry wine or something. Because they only kept company for about a month or so, and the whole time, everybody in town could hear her berating him in a loud voice, right there on her front porch when he came courting. But he just kept on coming. Sat right there in the swing and smiled off into space while she went into tirade after tirade. Maybe she finally wore herself out. Mr. Willis was quite elderly, and I guess he'd learned plenty of patience. Of course, Sophie's mama was certainly no spring chicken herself, by then, but she hadn't learned anything about patience. Never did, to tell the truth. But I guess one thing that kept Mr. Willis coming around was that he figured it was his last chance to get married. So-somehow or other-he got her to the church. Then he took her off on a grand honeymoon trip to New Orleans for two whole weeks, and when he brought her back, she was with child-we found out later. Only about a week after that, Mr. Willis died in his sleep. Left her a well-off widow with a nice, big house. And he left her Sophie, too, though she didn't realize that right away. And of course, that was certainly some surprise when she found that out. She sent right off to Atlanta for her two old maid sisters-Elsa and Minnie-to come and live with her. And they did. But goodness, what a time they had of it, especially right at first. Because Sophie's mama must have thought that they were going to wait on her hand and foot, and those older sisters must have thought the same thing about her waiting on them. Led to an awful lot of fussing and pouting, it did. But eventually, they learned how to get along right well, I guess. And of course, they were happy about the baby that was coming, so that settled them down a bit. Almost every single evening for months, you could see them sitting together on the porch, crocheting to beat the band-with their heads down and their crochet needles just flashing away. Went at it with a vengeance, they did. Why, by the time that baby was ready to come, they had enough clothes for a whole army of babies! Caps and sacques and booties and sweaters and blankets. But of course, not a single one of them could crochet worth a flip, so the sweaters all had one long sleeve and one short, and the caps would have fit a watermelon, they were so big. And the blankets came out shaped like triangles, for the most part. Still, they did their best, and I guess their hearts were in the right place. Well, the baby started coming on a Thursday morning-and it turned out to be the longest labor in the history of Salty Creek. By Friday night, everybody in town could hear the screaming, and around noon on Saturday, she was shrieking, "Shoot me! For God's sake, somebody shoot me!" I was hardly more than a child myself. Only twelve or thirteen, and my mama made me stay in the back part of our house so I wouldn't hear any more than she could help. Wouldn't even let me sit out on the porch. The doctor came and went at their house until Saturday afternoon, and after that, he never left until the baby finally arrived, around church-time on Sunday. Folks said that when he came out about an hour later, he looked like he'd been run over by a train, he did. Went straight home, his wife said, drank a fifth of bourbon, and slept for two whole days. Later, he told her he'd never seen anything like it. Just flat out a little baby that didn't want to be born. "I had to drag it out!" he said. "And God only knows what-all it was hanging on to!" Sophie's mama always said the birth ruined her health. And I guess all the hand-wringing and the hollering and the running into each other the elder sisters did must have taken a toll, too. Because they said the birth ruined their health as well. So that as soon as Sophie could toddle around and understand when they told her to go get their crocheting for them or another pillow to rest their feet on, or a clean hanky, they had her doing everything for them. All the time. Just like she owed them something. It must have been hard for Sophie, waiting on them hand and foot from the time she was just a little thing. And growing up under the black little bird-eyes of those women. And none of them young. In a house full of medicine bottles and hand-kerchiefs and smelling salts. And boredom. That's why I say that if there was ever a beau for Sophie, they would have nipped that right in the bud. Because they weren't about to give up the one who ran around and waited on them. Besides, Sophie would have told me if there had been someone. I'm sure of it. So she never did marry. Just took care of those old ladies and grew older and more faded---looking herself, every single year, what with them getting so elderly and so much more demanding and living for such a long time. And Sophie's mama, especially, was always hard to get along with. When she got older, she took to doing some strange things, like collecting dead birds she'd find out in the yard from time to time. Take them right inside the house and lay them out on a shelf in the pantry. Such as that. She was the first one to pass on, Sophie's mama was, and I always thought somebody ought to have put her on a shelf in the pantry, too-let her see how she liked having that done to her. But of course, they didn't. Then a few years later, Sophie's Aunt Elsa passed on. Her Aunt Minnie was the only one left after that, and she was just as senile as a coot for a long time before she finally passed away. Used to sneak out of the house almost every night and wander around in the front yard in her nightgown, calling and calling for her mama. Can you imagine? Sophie never had a whole night's sleep for all the years that went on, but she didn't complain about it. Not even to me. Afterward, when they were all gone at last-her Aunt Minnie passing on only a few months after Mr. Oto came to stay in my gardener's cottage-folks thought then maybe Sophie would do a little traveling or something like that. But she didn't. Just went about doing what she'd always done-taking care of the house and tending to her crab traps and painting some pictures down by the river. I guess by then it was too late for much of anything else. But I'll say this about Sophie: She was a real lady. One of the few left in this whole town, someone who was raised right-whatever other faults her mama and the aunts may have had. So Sophie always came calling on me-and she was the only one who still kept up that fine old tradition. I was a little bit older, of course, and I'd known Sophie all her life, knew her better than is usual in small towns like this one, where everybody knows everybody else, anyway. Because when I was a young lady-and already being courted by my late husband-Sophie was just a little girl, and even then, I thought she was very special. Maybe it had something to do with the way I'd always wanted a sister. Someone younger than me to look up to me and share her little secrets with me. Sophie was the closest I had to that. But of course, her mama didn't let her get away very often, so it didn't blossom into a real friendship-like sisters-it could have been. Still, I always thought she was a precious little thing. I remember one twilight evening when I was sitting in the porch swing, and Sophie came skipping down the road right in front of my house-she couldn't have been more than six or seven-and waved her fingers at me as she went by. Must have gotten away from her mama for a few minutes. She was wearing a white pinafore and skipping and singing right down the middle of the road, and I thought she looked so pretty that day. And, too, there was something about the way it was, right at dusk, that made me think she looked just like a little white egret, ruffling its feathers this way and that. But if her mama had seen her, she'd have had a fit. "Keep your skirt down, Sophie!" she would have admonished. "And behave like a lady! " Like I said, whatever other faults Sophie's mama had, she certainly raised Sophie to be a real lady. I don't know why that particular image of Sophie stands out like it does in my mind. But then, we never do know how it's going to be with us when we get older. Anyway, when she was just a little girl, Sophie used to come over to my house some afternoons, whenever her mama would let her, and she'd play dress-up, draping herself all over with my scarves, and sometimes, I'd let her put some of my face powder on her nose. Other times, she liked just lying across the front of my bed and watching me mending my silk stockings or making some tatted lace for the pillowcases in my hope chest. "What's a hope chest?" she asked me once. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon, I remember. "It's where you keep all the things you fix up for when you're a married lady," I told her. "Is that what you're supposed to hope for? Is that why it's called a hope chest?" "I think so. And yes, it's what every young lady hopes for." "Not me," Sophie said in a voice strong with that particular kind of certainty children have. "Yes-you, too," I assured her, enjoying the little proclamation she had made. And her absolute confidence in it. "No," she insisted. "'Cause Mama wouldn't let me." "She would if you were a grown-up young lady," I explained, and then I amended that: "She will when you're a grown-up young lady." "I don't think so," Sophie said matter-of-factly. I was really quite amused at her earnestness about it. As I said, she was such a precious little girl. Other folks may have thought that she was plain-looking, but I always thought it was just that she'd never had a chance to be free. Or happy, maybe. By the time Sophie was a young lady, I was already married and had a home of my own-this house, built by my late husband's grandfather, the one who started this whole town. And I think that one of the reasons Sophie particularly liked calling on me was because she enjoyed being with someone who really had a life of her own, if you know what I mean. Not just living right in the same house where she was born, like she did. Years later, after my husband passed on and when all Sophie's old ladies were gone at last, she just kept on coming to call on me anyway. Such a lady , she was. That's why I don't . . . Well, I'm not sure what happened. About two years after Mr. Oto first came to work for me, it was, if I'm remembering it right. Because after all, it was such a long time ago. Right around Halloween, and nobody knew what was coming to us in that terrible December. -Reprinted from Sophie and the Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright (c) 2001 by Augusta Trobaugh. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced withou permission. Excerpted from Sophie and the Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.