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Sophie and the Rising Sun

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Author  Augusta Trobaugh
Language  English
Publisher  Dutton
Country  United States
Genre  Fiction
Publication date  2001

Sophie and the Rising Sun is a novel written by American author Augusta Trobaugh. It was published in 2001 by publishing company Dutton. The novel was well received, especially throughout the southern states of America.


The novel is classified under the romance genre and primarily focuses on two main characters, Sophie and Mr. Oto, during the days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sophie and the Rising Sun was written in a narrative style, the story being told from the perspective of Sophie’s childhood best friend, Miss Anne who is the moral center of the community.

Plot summary

Sophie and the Rising Sun takes place in a small fictional town called Salty Creek, Georgia in the days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The story focuses on the main character Sophie, a single spinster who has spent the majority of her adult life caring for her aging mother and two elderly aunts, who suffer from dementia. Sophie's mother is controlling during her childhood and early adult years, refusing to allow Sophie to date, telling her "Nothing lasts, so no use in getting started with it." Some speculation over her past love affair with a man who had died during a battle in World War I has been alluded to, and is at the center of some gossip between the local housewives. Sophie spends her time painting, tending to crab traps in a nearby lake, and going to book clubs. She is seen by the local community as a "proper and polite lady" but also as a topic of some conversation by the local gossip, Ms. Ruth, because she does not attend church services every Sunday morning.

The story also focuses on another character, Mr. Oto, a Japanese-American who through a series of events ends up stuck in Salty Creek under the care of the local doctor and his wife after he was found on a bus, too weak from malnutrition and sleep loss to make his way back to California, where his father and other family members live. After his stay at the doctor’s home he moves into the backyard of Sophie’s childhood friend, Miss Anne to work as her gardener.

Mr. Oto spends two years in Salty Creek, during which he is known by the local community as "Miss Anne's Chinese gardener." After a while Mr. Oto and Sophie fall into the habit of meeting along the riverbank outside of town to paint in silence while the rest of the townsfolk gather at the church. Slowly over the course of the years they begin falling in love, and when they are beginning to realize their love news of the Pearl Harbor bombings hit Salty Creek. After the bombings Mr. Oto is viewed as suspicious for his quiet demeanor and Asian heritage. When Ms. Ruth begins to suspect and spread rumors that Mr. Oto is actually Japanese, he is forced to go into hiding in a small hunting cabin outside of town.

Themes and genre

At its core, Sophie and the Rising Sun is a romance novel about dressed-up racism in a time and place where people of a different race had a proper role and place in the community. The story relies heavily on symbolism as well, when Mr. Oto is reminded of a story from his homeland of a bride who was transformed into a crane.

Although the majority of Trobaugh's writings have been described as "Christian fiction" Dutton Publishers has told Publishers Weekly that they are reluctant to call it anything other than "good clean fiction that depicts southern life."


The film was selected by the 2016 Sundance Film Festival as its Salt Lake City Gala Premiere.


Sophie and the Rising Sun Wikipedia

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