Summary and book reviews of Sophie and The Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh

Sophie and The Rising Sun

By Augusta Trobaugh

Sophie and The Rising Sun
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2001,
    208 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2002,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

Salty Creek is a sleepy Georgia town where everyone knows everyone else's business, along with their place in the hierarchy of color, class, and family history. Strangers rarely enter their midst, and a mysterious arrival in the spring of 1939 soon sets tongues wagging.

A quiet, unassuming man with a secret history of his own, Mr. Oto is taken in as a gardener by Miss Anne, the town's conscience-and its heart with no illusions about Salty Creek, or its inhabitants. One of these is Sophie, who lost her love during World War I and has resigned herself to a passionless existence taking care of her mother and two maiden aunts. Then one day, she and Mr. Oto speak for the first time. To Mr. Oto, whose heart has been full from the moment he saw Sophie, it is one of life's miracles--when they finally break the silence of "the beauty of words unspoken."

When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and Mr. Oto's newfound life comes under siege, it is Miss Anne who once again comes to his rescue in an act of uncommon courage and sacrifice. As for Sophie, who has fallen in love with Mr. Oto, she must decide how much she is willing to risk for a future with this man who has brought such joy into her life.

A radiant novel that gets the rhythms and cadences of small-town life exactly right, Sophie and the Rising Sun tells an unforgettable story of a time when the world lost its innocence-and of a town that finds its redemption in an extraordinary love. It is a major achievement from a novelist of rare grace and power.


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...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions
  1. Sophie does not seem to have much of a life in Salty Creek beyond her reading group and her painting. What keeps her in this town?

  2. One of Sophie's few childhood friends was Sally, a friendship Sophie's mother put to an end when she discovered it. Given that Sophie grew up in an environment that fostered prejudice and segregation, how is it that she is able to see beyond the close-mindedness she had been taught?

  3. Is Miss Ruth or Miss Anne more emblematic of the town of Salty Creek? Why?

  4. Is it a feeling of patriotism, a feeling of friendship, or some combination of both that causes Miss Anne to hide Mr. Oto?

  5. Japan is known as "The Land of the Rising Sun," but in the terms of this novel, could the image of a ...
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Media Reviews
Chattanooga Times and Free Press

Trobaugh...tells this poignant story with beautiful, yet appropriately subdued, prose, befitting its simplicity. It's a gem that lovers of Southern literature will relish.

Spartansburg Herald-Journal

Augusta Trobaugh has done it again written a sweet, savage story about the South.... Thank you, Augusta Trobaugh, for proving that love, passion, redemption and compassion continue to flourish in Southern literature.

The Sun (Baltimore)

Set in a quiet Georgia coastal town...this sweet, old fashioned story is about the loving friendship that grows between a simple Japanese-American gardener and [an] unmarried Southern lady who lives down the street.... With a gentle hand and glass-clear prose, Trobaugh explores the villagers' foibles, racism and tension after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Her memorable characters make this novel a fast and pleasurable read.

USA Today

LOVELY. Trobaugh...streamlines her rich Southern style and creates a narrative as delicate as a line drawing.

The Sunday Oklahoman

Augusta Trobaugh is an excellent storyteller who creates a narrator who feels as comfortable as our favorite easy chair. However, as easy as the story seems, we suddenly realize that we are in the midst of a powerful story.


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.

Library Journal

Poetic.... A beautiful and unusual love story.

Publishers Weekly

Part Remains of the Day, part wartime drama.... Trobaugh...once again suggests the small but heartwarming triumphs made possible by human dignity and courage.

Christian Library Journal

Haunting.... Trobaugh fans have come to expect a thought-provoking read from her, and once again she meets the mark.

Author Blurb Anne Rivers Siddons
A new voice from and for the South, as complex and resonant as the region itself.

Reader Reviews

Wonderful, waiting for the movie and sequel
I loved this book so much, I named my dogs after the two main characters. I also loved the audio book version. I read that there was suppose to be a movie; I hoped to see a sequel as the ending did leave an opening to where there could be a follow up...   Read More


Great, quick read
What a wonderful little novel! I loved this charming story. Trobaugh captures small-town life perfectly. I grew up in a town of 1,300 people, and as I read this book, I found myself thinking of actual women from my past who were similar to Ruth ...   Read More

Julie Carenduff

i thought that this book would be a traditional love story with women meets man and they fall in love and live happily ever after but i really enjoyed it and have read it several i am only 15 and still at school we have to do a book study on...   Read More

Augusta Trobaugh is the author of Sophie and the rising sun, Resting in the Bosom of the Lamb and Praise Jerusalem! She was semi-finalist in the 1993 Pirates Alley Faulkner Competition. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Georgia...   Read More

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