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The Guest Room: A Novel Hardcover – January 5, 2016
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—Skip Horack, The San Francisco Chronicle
"The Guest Room [has] an edge-of-the-seat momentum that propels the reader straight to the last page... For those who value the well-researched novel, the author's 18th book will please… Promises to enlighten and entertain."
-- Anita Shreve, The Washington Post
“Within the first few pages of The Guest Room, the latest novel by prolific author Chris Bohjalian, the booze-fueled bacchanalia that began as the fulfillment of men’s fantasies turns into a Helter-Skelter-like nightmare… Bohjalian, whose books often explore the contrast between surface lightness and the darkness that lies below, takes on upper-middle class America in this novel, ripping apart any illusion of safety or moral high ground in a headlong collision between the comforting rituals of suburbia and the viciousness of the Russian mob… [Bohjalian is] at his best in The Guest Room, one of his most compelling books so far, combining an explosive premise, a timely social topic, and fast-paced storytelling with a purpose."
—Amy Driscoll, The Miami Herald
"The book's real throbbing heart is Anahit, an aspiring young dancer from Armenia... The narrative's frequent somersaults from Anahit's devastating backstory to the Chapman family's more sheltered world is a remarkable artistic feat. . .a steely exploration of the very human cost of bachelor parties and other games of male pleasure."
—Eliot Schrefer, USA Today
"A story both global and intimate… Heartbreaking."
—Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe
“Bohjalian’s deft and light-handed storytelling makes this book a compelling and captivating read. In particular, Bohjalian’s treatment of guilt and paranoia is realistic and downright scary. You will remember Richard and Alexandra long after the last page.”
—Tracy Sherlock, The Vancouver Sun
"A gripping story about suburban American lives ripped apart… It's hard to put down, or ever forget.”
—David Shaffer, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Well-written and psychologically astute... Alexandra is the conscience in this conscienceless world, a girl who manages to hold on to her innocence and compassion despite the horror of her life. Her voice, with its sometimes uncertain, quirky English, is rendered with such perfection that it’s easy to forget that the author is male. This, the book tells us, is what happens to the innocent... Enjoyable."
-- Arlene McKanic, BookPage
"Hard to put down... Chris Bohjalian keeps readers turning each page... painfully honest... compelling."
-- Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“While The Guest Room reads like a thriller, in Bohjalian's skilled hands it also reads as a stunning meditation on shame and scandal -- and on issues of trust and forgiveness that can make or break even a long-term ostensibly happy marriage… The Guest Room builds to a shattering -- and unexpected -- conclusion. This is a masterfully told, compulsively readable cautionary tale.”
— Amy Goodfellow Wagner, The Examiner
“Chris Bohjalian is a master at looking unflinchingly at morally complex human dramas and providing insights into the matrix of emotions and actions of his characters… Bohjalian does it yet again in his new novel, The Guest Room, with equal sure-footedness and compelling resonance. It is one of his most daring stories yet. He takes the reader deep into the darkest corners of illicit, international sex-slave trafficking in a riveting story about worlds in collision… Bohjalian subtly crafts reverberating echoes between the two stories…The ending comes with a shock but will also leave the reader sitting quietly for a long moment, attempting to take it all in.”
—Frank O. Smith, Portland Press Herald
"Superb...a stark reminder of the consequences when perhaps we don't listen to our better angels."
--Kelly Konrad, Chicago Now
"Suspenseful… It took all of our willpower to not bite off all of our nails as we tore through this dark thriller."
—Lynsey Eidell, Glamour
"This dramatic story is convoluted and thrilling, and nothing short of a page-turner.”
—Christina Wilkerson, Arkansas Traveler
"The Guest Room pulses quick as a page-turner, but its concerns run deep into the moral consequences following an eruption of violence in ordinary lives."
--Charles Frazier, National Book Award winning author of Cold Mountain
“A good man's momentary moral lapse plunges his happy, prosperous life into a nightmare of murderous gangsters and remorseless sex traffickers. Bohjalian's deftness as a story teller is on full display here, as he couples the urgency of a compulsively readable crime thriller with a quiet meditation on the meaning of family and relationships; the painstaking, quotidian, essential business of how we win love, and how swiftly we can lose it.”
--Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author of March
“Gripping…Venturing into crime-thriller territory familiar to fans of Harlan Coben, Bohjalian’s page-turner about an average Joe caught up in sordid events beyond his control resonates with chilling plausibility.”
"Bohjalian catches a key social moment with a book that's fresh and different... a tale of scandal, shame, and escalating suspense."
--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“Reads like a thriller...I did not see the end coming. Chris does a terrific job of exploring the very dark side of trafficking and the women who are preyed on...Lots to discuss, and book clubs should take note."
--Carol Fitzgerald, The Book Reporter
"The Guest Room is a page-turner in every sense of the word. From its very first page to an emotionally charged surprise ending, Bohjalian's fast-paced plot draws readers in and makes the book truly 'hard to put down'...Remarkable... A captivating and insightful read."
--Rupen Janbazian, The Armenian Weekly
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Guest Room is Bohjalian's newest book, released earlier this week. When I first read the description, I was a little skeptical. A book about an Armenian girl working as a sex slave? It's not like I'm not aware that this type of thing occurs, but I wasn't sure how this was going to work in the story.
The answer is, it worked very well. Despite a premise that I wasn't sure I could believe, I was totally engaged and drawn into this story.
Richard's brother Phillip is getting married, and as a good older brother, he has agreed to hold the bachelor party, hosting it at his house. Phillip's friend, Spencer has arranged the entertainment - some strippers will be coming to the party.
In what is a bizarre turn of events, the two strippers (who do a lot more than stripping) manage to escape from the two men that bring them (and have been holding them captive) and kill them.
Now Richard and his wife Kristin are left dealing with the aftermath of these events. A murder has occurred in their home, leaving them unable to live there while investigators try to determine what occurred. Richard's employers put him on administrative leave. Kristin is left to determine what her husband has done in a moment of bad judgement.Read more ›
The plot is fast-paced and the characters are realistic. Chapters alternate between those told by Alexandra, one of the sex slaves, and numbered chapters that tell other characters’ points-of-view. This gives the reader intimate glimpses into each character.
This is a very sad story. Not only is it about the very real issue of sex slavery and the Russian mob, but it is also about the fragility of families. In addition, this story deals with the importance of self-respect and the difficulty to repair it once it is damaged. It is about a good man who makes one mistake. This one really makes the reader think.
Told in multiple points of view (one in the third person, the first person narration from Alexandra, one of the strippers), Chris Bohjalian’s THE GUEST HOUSE is an examination of what follows when the improbable happens. One bad decision cascades into a spiral of despair. Richard and the bachelor party guests are questioned by the police, his house is a blood-spattered crime scene, his company places him on leave and he is estranged from his wife and daughter.
Richard is a decent man. He steps back from the abyss, yet faces doubt and the repercussions of a momentary moral lapse.
Bohjalian examines the sordid world of sex slaves, the Russian mob, the shifting morals of a world awash in porn and moral relativism, and entitlement. What is most interesting is the first inclination of nearly every character in the book is to shroud themselves in the mantle of victimhood. Yet there are only a few true victims in the book.
The novel is fast-paced. Bohjalian does not preach or offer his own point of view, leaving the reader to make his own determinations and judgments.
Kristin, Richard’s wife, is a good sport and agrees to spend the weekend at her mother’s Manhattan apartment with their 9-year-old daughter, Melissa. She is sleeping in a bedroom in the apartment with Melissa when the dreaded late night (or actually early morning) phone call awakens her mother. Kristin has turned off her cell phone so her mother answers her landline and then all hell breaks loose.
Richard, expecting a stripper, provided by Philip’s friends, has terrible consequences. No stripper appears. Two underage Russian girls arrive at the party scene accompanied by bodyguards. The party turns into an orgy and chaos reigns reversing a typical bachelor party into a murder scene.
Mired with a backdrop of human trafficking, the plot becomes encumbered with blackmail, human resources violations and a marital collapse. Alexandra, the Russian “slave” and her friend, Sonja, escape the scene but not before Richard has taken Alexandra to the guest room.
Richard’s life falls apart and he continues to have zero judgment; one wonders how he became a successful businessman. Character development is actually sparse in the story and this book turns into an expose of human trafficking. I wasn’t sure if Bohjalian intense study was of voyeurism or he was providing a passionate argument of the subject matter.
I liked all of Bohjalian’s books, but not this one. I was somewhat bored and lost patience with Richard. His life fell apart and yet he compounded the problems again and again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love a story where characters make a few poor choices and everything goes to hell . . . :-)Published 2 days ago by Candy
Fascinating view into the sex industry where everyone it touches is diminishedPublished 5 days ago by Mark Arbogast
I was so very excited to see that there was a new book by Bojalian and I waited months for it even tho I was 'next in line' for about 10 weeks? Weird, huh?. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Annie Conry
The book kept me reading but I hated the ending. Kristin was unrealistically understanding and, really, Richard just left the couch in the living room until they could get it... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Peggy Simpson
Although I didn't think this was a typical Bohjalian and it had a sad theme, I couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Lynne Foerster
Very good book until the last twenty pages. Disappointing and drawn out end that didn't merit that. I don't recommend it unless you can read it free. Check it out at your library. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Sarah
Thought provoking story about a bachelor party gone really wrong. Beautiful character development and even though it isn't meant to be a thriller, this book is hard to put down.Published 8 days ago
If you liked Skeletons at the Feast you will have a hard time putting this book down. The two narrators are equally compelling and authentic. Great read.Published 8 days ago by Diane B.
I had to stop midway, ask the friend who recommended the book a few questions, read a few other books, and then pick this one back up. The beginning is rough. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Maggie Rogers