Books by Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of ten novels, including his most recent New York Times bestseller, Before You Know Kindness, and his collection of columns and essays, Idyll Banter. He won the New England Book Award in 2002. His novel Midwives was a number

Released: March 13, 2018

"The moral overcomes the mystery in this sobering cautionary tale."
A hard-partying flight attendant runs afoul of Russian conspirators. Read full book review >
THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian
Released: Oct. 10, 2016

"Sensational subject matter aside, this thriller is a sleeper."
Bohjalian's latest considers the impact of a sleepwalker's disappearance on her husband and children. Read full book review >
THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

"A compulsively readable train wreck."
Bohjalian's latest ripped-from-the-headlines cautionary tale concerns a very poorly planned bachelor party. Read full book review >
Released: July 8, 2014

"Readers hoping for a futuristic novel imagining the aftermath of a Fukushima-type disaster in the United States may be disappointed—Bohjalian's primary focus is on examining, in wrenching detail, the dystopia wrought by today's economy. Emily's voice is a compelling one, however, and hers is a journey readers will avidly follow."
After a nuclear meltdown, a Vermont teen flees to the mean streets of Burlington. Read full book review >
THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS by Chris Bohjalian
Released: July 9, 2013

"A soulful why-done-it."
In post-World War II Tuscany, a serial killer targets the remnants of a noble family. Read full book review >
Released: July 17, 2012

"A gruesome, unforgettable exposition of the still too-little-known facts of the Armenian genocide and its multigenerational consequences."
The granddaughter of an Armenian and a Bostonian investigates the Armenian genocide, discovering that her grandmother took a guilty secret to her grave. Read full book review >
THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian
Released: Oct. 4, 2011

Bohjalian's (Secrets of Eden, 2010, etc.) latest effort finds its dark magick in a coven of herbalists, ghosts from an air crash and the troubled history of a derelict Victorian house.

Chip Linton was an experienced pilot for a regional airline, but the aircraft he was flying one sunny August day hit a flock of geese upon takeoff. Chip's chance to duplicate the heroic flying skills of Sully Sullenberger and the miracle landing on the Hudson River are lost to a rogue wave in the middle of Lake Champlain. Thirty-nine people died during the emergency landing. Until that day, Chip's life had been the American dream: a profession he loved; a beautiful wife with a successful law practice; adored 10-year-old twin daughters. Now Chip fights posttraumatic stress and has crashed into clinical depression. Emily Linton decides the family needs a new start. She persuades Chip to move to the White Mountains of New Hampshire where she's found a gingerbread-trimmed house crying for restoration. Emily joins a local law firm. The twins, Hallie and Garnet, try to fit in at school. And Chip goes to work remodeling the house, right down to obsessing over a door in the basement sealed by 39 carriage bolts. Chip, haunted by victims of the crash, wonders if the bolts are macabre symbols for the 39 dead. Like the Lintons, numerous houses around the small town have greenhouses, each owned and lovingly maintained by one of the herbalists. And the herbalists are especially interested in the Lintons' twin daughters. The narrative develops an aura of malevolence early on, but perhaps too slowly for some horror fans. Many characters, especially all but one of the herbalists, seem one-dimensional. Some plot points are unresolved or take odd turns, perhaps in anticipation of a sequel. Chip's story is the most compelling. It's presented in the second person and closely parallels the fugue state that sometimes haunts those with depression.

A practical magick horror story with a not-entirely-satisfying resolution. Read full book review >
SECRETS OF EDEN by Chris Bohjalian
Released: Feb. 2, 2010

"A schematic tale of battered wives, murderous husbands and the consequences for their traumatized daughters."
Bohjalian (Skeletons at the Feast, 2008, etc.) returns with a story of violence. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2008

"From harrowing to inspiring."
Love in a time of war, 1945-1948. Read full book review >
THE DOUBLE BIND by Chris Bohjalian
Released: Feb. 13, 2007

"Ultra-clever, and moving, too."
Psychological thriller, crime novel and "what-if" sequel to The Great Gatsby—with significant twists. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

"The finely drawn scenes and characters here will suck in all but the hardest-hearted. Pretty much irresistible."
The privileged summer of a prosperous family is shortened by a bullet in the night. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2003

"Little style or substance."
Ten years of insubstantial newspaper columns about life in small-town Vermont. Read full book review >
THE BUFFALO SOLDIER by Chris Bohjalian
Released: March 1, 2001

"Another that may be in the Oprah mode, a tale of family torment. But Oprah's picks as a rule have literary merit, and this is no exception. Despite a conventional plot, Bohjalian's characters ring true, and he writes with insight and feeling."
It sounds like a TV movie of the week, but Bohjalian's eighth novel, among them the Oprah-picked Midwives (1997), works hard and pretty successfully to transcend the hackneyed scenario of parents adopting a child after losing their own. Read full book review >
TRANS-SISTER RADIO by Chris Bohjalian
Released: May 1, 2000

"Shallow people and a sluggish narrative fail to illuminate a difficult and painful dilemma. "
Best-selling Bohjalian (the Oprah-blessed Midwives, 1997, etc.) explores the fluid nature of love, gender, and identity in a graphically detailed story about a transsexual man's medical and psychological journey. Read full book review >
THE LAW OF SIMILARS by Chris Bohjalian
Released: Jan. 13, 1999

Bohjalian (Midwives, 1997, etc.) returns to small-town Vermont for a meditation on grief and healing. But what begins with a strong voice and slow pace loses its center, becoming by the end fraught with strained dialogue and inconceivable plot. The reader meets Leland Fowler, Deputy State's Attorney in the village of Bartlett, two years after his wife's death. He is single father to six-year-old Abby, and he's developed a gut and a chronic soar throat. Carissa Lake, the homeopath he goes to see, informs him of homeopathy's basic tenet, that like cures like, and prescribes a remedy of arsenic that instantly cures his two-year cold. Leland becomes obsessed with Carissa and the two have a night of love beneath the Christmas tree. But where Leland's grief starts to end is where the couple's trouble begins—one of Carissa's patients falls into a coma that his wife believes is the homeopath's fault, and Leland is the first lawyer to hear her story. Things speed up as Carissa and Leland perform a series of random acts designed to cover up their acquaintance and Carissa's potential guilt. From the night the two of them doctor documents that would chronicle their reckless meetings, the reader is expected to accept the idea that Leland would jeopardize his career, his position in the church and community, and Abby's stability, to help a woman he's slept with once. Meanwhile, the lovers— downward spiral is paralleled by Leland's sketchily told addiction to homeopathic arsenic. That he makes no connection between the "remedy" and his body's Emma Bovaryesque response, and that no character suffers the consequences of their actions, strains belief. A two-dimensional take on morality through formulaically good characters whose bad behavior is a bit of a stretch. (Author tour) Read full book review >
MIDWIVES by Chris Bohjalian
Released: April 1, 1997

Bohjalian (Water Witches, 1995, etc.) blends some provocative moral, medical, and political issues into a classic coming-of-age story in this To Kill a Mockingbirdlike reminiscence of the murder trial of a midwife, as witnessed by her teenaged daughter. From the day back in the '60s when Sibyl Danforth stepped forward in an emergency to help a pregnant friend give birth, she fell in love with the birthing process and dedicated herself to a calling as a lay midwife in rural Vermont. But as her obstetrician daughter, Connie, points out, Sibyl never bothered to obtain certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Still, neighbors who wanted to have their babies at home felt comfortable calling on her. Among Sibyl's patients in 1981, the year Connie turned 14, was a minister's wife named Charlotte Bedford, a fragile woman whose incredibly difficult labor led to a stroke and what appeared to be Charlotte's death. Prevented by a heavy snowstorm from getting Charlotte to a hospital, Sibyl frantically tried to save the baby's life by performing an emergency cesarean on the presumably dead woman. Only after Charlotte is carted away does the question arise: Was the woman actually dead when Sibyl cut her open? In a strong, ruminative voice, Connie re-creates that terrible year when the state's attorney, Charlotte Bedford's family, the local medical community, and even members of the Danforths' small hometown seemed to conspire to put not just Sibyl but the entire practice of home birthing on trial. Connie, fearing witch-huntstyle reprisals, eventually broke the law to protect her beloved mother's freedom. But the question remains: Did Sibyl kill Charlotte for the sake of her baby? Rich in moral ambiguity, informative to a fault on the methods and politics of childbirth, and perceptive regarding the whipsawing desires and loyalties of a perfectly normal teenaged girl: a compelling, complex novel and the strongest yet from the talented Bohjalian. (Film rights to Columbia-Tristar; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection) Read full book review >
WATER WITCHES by Chris Bohjalian
Released: March 24, 1995

The many different elements in this novel—including environmentalists, dowsing, and family loyalty—converge in a smooth and natural flow. Narrator Scottie—who notes that his childhood nickname has stuck long past appropriateness—is an attorney who lives in Landaff, Vt., with his wife, Laura, whose family is known for being strange, and for being able to locate water. Laura's confrontational sister, Patience, has particularly strong abilities and has also located oil, lost children, and missing valuables. Scottie and Laura have a young daughter, Miranda, who appears to be developing as quite a dowser as well, and Patience is eager, perhaps too eager, to take over her education. Scottie is representing a ski resort called Powder Peak in its bid for expansion, a project which has brought him into opposition with a local environmentalist state senator, who also happens to be engaged to Patience. This family connection might seem too facile, but Bohjalian does an impressive job painting Landaff as ``the sort of town where everyone is indeed related to everyone, and the town meeting that occurs on the first Tuesday of every March is as much a family reunion as it is an exercise in legislative self- determination.'' In the past, Bohjalian (Past the Bleachers, 1992, etc.) has faltered on plot points, relying on clichÇ to bring things together, but here his tempered voice finds its narrative niche, whether describing the peaceful setting with rumblings of discontent just under the surface, the circus-like arena of environmental politics (those opposing expansion form a group called ``Citizens Opposed to the Powder Peak Environmental Rape''), or Scottie's own internal struggles. Subtlety is key. When Scottie and fourth-grader Miranda spot catamounts on the mountain, he knows that expansion must be stopped and abruptly switches sides. Bohjalian slips in information about catamounts, dowsing, Y rods and the like without ever sounding preachy or falling out of Scottie's cohesive voice. Buoyant and brilliant. Read full book review >