“When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She brings their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, her husband sharing a dangerously intimate moment in the guest room, and two women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night.
In the aftermath, Kristin and Richard’s life rapidly spirals into nightmare. The police throw them out of their home, now a crime scene, Richard’s investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave, and Kristin is unsure if she can forgive her husband for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.”
My Thoughts: Just when you think Chris Bohjalian cannot possibly write another story that is just as good, if not better, than all of his other works, he produces The Guest Room. In this latest novel, he creates an atmosphere of shock and awe, not only with his sentences but also with the plot of this intricately layered story.
Bohjalian does not shy away from difficult topics or uncomfortable situations, and The Guest Room is the type of novel that will push readers to the edge of squirminess. From the disheartening glimpse into the male mind to Alexandra’s gut-wrenching story, there is much to disturb. Shame is a recurring theme, as it is what imprisons all of the characters mentally and, in some instances, physically. The fact that some of this shame in misguided only adds to the intensity of the novel.
As in Bohjalian’s other novels, his characters are not necessarily admirable or very likeable. What they are is real. Who wouldn’t be furious and highly doubtful of Richard’s fidelity after the sordid details of the bachelor party come to light? Just what options did Alexandra have other than to do as she was told, no matter how sleazy the request? You may not like their actions or their rationale but you cannot argue that their actions and rationale are not genuine.
The Guest Room is a sensational novel that will gut you emotionally while raising awareness of the very real and too frequent sex slave trade that exists around the globe. It will make you rethink the idea of innocence and make you feel guilty for every time you judged someone based on their profession. It is a stellar story written by one of today’s best writers. In other words, it is a book you must read as soon as possible because it is just that good.