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The Guest Room: A Novel Hardcover – January 5, 2016

4.0 out of 5 stars 586 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Heartbreaking… Unexpected and refreshing… I won't give away of the surprising twists and turns that The Guest Room takes on the path to Bohjalian's daring conclusion; I'll only note that much of the pleasure that comes from reading any well-constructed narrative lies in trying to anticipate how the author will write himself out of seemingly inescapable corners. But here, for a change, we also have a novelist who seems more concerned with examining and dramatizing a much more universal question: whether, in the end, any amount of love or compassion, retreat or nobility or forgiveness, can overcome the remorseless workings of evil."
—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

CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the author of eighteen books, including Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, The Sandcastle Girls, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, andMidwives. His novel Midwives was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three of his novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). He lives in Vermont. Visit him at www.chrisbohjalian.com or on Facebook.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (January 5, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385538898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385538893
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (586 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tina Says VINE VOICE on November 25, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've been a huge fan of Chris Bohjalian's work since I first read Midwives, an Oprah Book Club pick. I have recommended that book to countless people, and have read everything Bohjalian has published since. His work is always something I am anxious to read, and although I enjoy some books more than others, am always happy I have taken the time to read everything by this author.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richard Chapman decides to allow his brother’s bachelor party to take place in his own home. What could be the harm? However, after everyone is drunk and the hired strippers turn out to be much more than strippers, things take turn for the worse. Even he almost oversteps his moral limits. Before the evening is over, the girls’ bodyguards are killed right inside his house, and the hired girls fled. How was he to tell his wife, face his neighbors, and answer his little girl’s questions when his house becomes an off-limits crime scene? Worst of all, will he ever feel good about himself, again? Will he ever redeem himself and regain his self-respect?

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richard Chapman hosts his brother’s bachelor party at his tony Bronxville house. The investment banker’s younger brother, Philip, an “hotelier”, is an amoral, oblivious, insensitive lout, as are a few of his friends. Russian bodyguards accompany the strippers hired for the party and before the night is over, there are dead bodies and everyone’s world changes.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bohjalian’s new book has a predictable premise. Richard Chapman, family man and investment banker, hosts a bachelor party for his younger brother, Philip. This was not a well-planned party, which is probably an understatement.

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.
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