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For ten summers, the Seton family--all three generations--met at their country home in New England to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton, and golf, and savoring gin and tonics on the wraparound porch to celebrate the end of the season. In the eleventh summer, everything changed. A hunting rifle with a single cartridge left in the chamber wound up in exactly the wrong hands at exactly the wrong time, and led to a nightmarish accident that put to the test the values that unite the family--and the convictions that just may pull it apart. Before You Know Kindness is a family saga that is timely in its examination of some of the most important issues of our era, and timeless in its exploration of the strange and unexpected places where we find love. As he did with his earlier masterpiece,Midwives, Chris Bohjalian has written a novel that is rich with unforgettable characters--and absolutely riveting in its page-turning intensity. "Few writers can manipulate a plot with Bohjalian's grace and power."--The New York Times Book Review. "Chris Bohjalian's many fans will be glad to know he's back on the high wire, expertly balancing topical issues with the more timeless concerns of the human heart. His well-drawn, sympathetic characters deepen and intensify the novel's gripping plot rather than simply serving it. Before You Know Kindness is smart, first-rate storytelling."--Richard Russo, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls. "Once again, Chris Bohjalian dares to tackle the complexities--and complacencies--of modern society at its most vulnerable spot, where the personal clashes with the political, where the private is forced to go public. And once again, he forges a drama that will keep his readers on the edge of their seats... perhaps their conscience as well."--Julia Glass, winner of the National Book Award for Three Junes. "Chris Bohjalian's magnificent new novel, Before You Know Kindness, is the best work of fiction I've read about an American family since Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. It is one of the funniest, best-written, most compassionate, most engaging, and flat-out most enjoyable novels I've ever read."--Howard Frank Mosher, winner of the New England Book Award for A Stranger in the Kingdom. "Elegant, refined... a triumph." --Booklist (starred review).
From the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Midwives andTrans-Sister Radio comes a hauntingly beautiful story of the ties that bind families--and the strains that pull them apart. In northern Vermont, a raging river overflows its banks and sweeps the nine-year-old twin daughters of Terry and Laura Sheldon to their deaths. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the highway patrolman and his wife, unable to have more children, take in a foster child: a ten-year-old African-American boy who has been shuttled for years between foster families and group homes. Young Alfred cautiously enters the Sheldon family circle, barely willing to hope that he might find a permanent home among these kind people still distracted by grief. Across the street from the Sheldons live an older couple who take Alfred under their wing, and it is they who introduce him to the history of the buffalo soldiers--African-American cavalry troopers whose reputation for integrity, honor, and personal responsibility inspires the child. Before life has a chance to settle down, however, Terry, who has never been unfaithful to Laura, finds himself attracted to the solace offered by another woman. Their encounter, brief as it is, leaves her pregnant with his baby--a child Terry suddenly realizes he urgently wants. From these fitful lives emerges a lyrical and richly textured story, one that explores the meaning of marriage, the bonds between parents and children, and the relationships that cause a community to become a family. But The Buffalo Soldier is also a tale of breathtaking power and profound moral complexity--and exactly the sort of novel readers have come to expect from Chris Bohjalian.
A heartbreaking and wildly inventive new novel from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington, Vermont. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a meltdown and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault--was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to leave their homes; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily knows that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates to safety after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever--and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.
A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself -- an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn't know she had. But she still can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever--and so she comes up with the only plan that she can. A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian's finest novels to date--breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.
When Laurel Estabrook is attacked while out riding her bike one Sunday afternoon, her life is changed forever. She begins work at a shelter for the homeless and there meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box full of photos he won't let anyone see. When Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel discovers that he was once a successful photographer, and her fascination with his former life begins to merge into obsession, not least because some of the photos are of the very same forest trail where she was attacked and nearly killed. Laurel becomes convinced that his photos reveal a deeply hidden, dark family secret. Her search for the truth leads her further from her own life and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her.
In March 1986, while living in Brooklyn, Chris Bohjalian and his wife were cab-napped on a Saturday night and taken on a forty-five-minute joy ride in which the driver ignored all traffic lights and stop signs. Around midnight he deposited the young couple on a near-deserted street, where police officers were about to storm a crack house. Bohjalian and his wife were told to hit the ground for their own protection. While lying on the pavement, Bohjalian's wife suggested that perhaps it was time to move to New England. Months later they traded in their co-op in Brooklyn for a century-old Victorian house in Lincoln, Vermont (population 975), and Bohjalian began chronicling life in that town in a wide variety of magazine essays and in his newspaper column, "Idyll Banter. " These pieces, written weekly for twelve years and collected here for the first time, serve as a diary of both this writer's life and how America has been transformed in the last decade. Rich with idiosyncratic universals that come with being a parent, a child, and a spouse, Chris Bohjalian's personal observations are a reflection of our own common experience. "Chris Bohjalian is a terrific columnist--thoughtful and thought-provoking. Just like me! No, really, this guy is good. " --Dave Barry, author ofBoogers Are My Beat "The best book I've ever read about life in a contemporary village. There's no doubt that Chris Bohjalian has established himself as one of America's finest, most thoughtful, and most humane writers. " --Howard Frank Mosher From the Hardcover edition.
From the best-selling author of Midwives comes a startlingly powerful story of three people whose lives are irrevocably changed by illness, healing, and love. Two years after his wife's sudden, accidental death, a Vermont deputy state prosecutor, Leland Fowler, finds that the stress of raising their small daughter alone has left him with a chronic sore throat. Desperate to rid himself of a malady that has somehow managed to elude conventional medicine, Leland turns to homeopath Carissa Lake--who cures both his sore throat and the aching loneliness at the root of his symptoms. Just days after Leland realizes he has fallen in love with the first woman who has mattered to him since his wife, one of Carissa's asthma patients falls into an allergy-induced coma. When Carissa comes under investigation, straight-arrow Leland is faced with a moral and ethical dilemma of enormous proportions. Set against the ongoing clash between conventional and alternative medicine--between what we know science can offer and the miracles that always seem to be just beyond our reach--The Law of Similars is a haunting and deeply atmospheric tale. Chris Bohjalian is known for the compassion and grace that mark his characters as well as for the sheer storytelling power that propels his fiction. With The Law of Similars, he has offered something more: a page-turning examination of the fragile threads that hold people together when the worst that can happen really does ... and the unexpected and luminous ways we are made well. It is a remarkable achievement.
Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean--the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread--Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope--an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart. This Signet Classics edition is the ONLY completely unabridged paperback edition available today. Translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman Macafee, based on the classic nineteenth-century Charles E. Wilbour translation With an Introduction by Lee Fahnestock and a New Afterword
From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge--set in war-ravaged Tuscany. 1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis' bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison. 1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case--a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood--Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history. Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.
With a suspense, lyricism, and moral complexity that recall To Kill a Mockingbird and Presumed Innocent, this compulsively readable novel explores what happens when a woman who has devoted herself to ushering life into the world finds herself charged with responsibility in a patient's tragic death.<P><P> The time is 1981, and Sibyl Danforth has been a dedicated midwife in the rural community of Reddington, Vermont, for fifteen years. But one treacherous winter night, in a house isolated by icy roads and failed telephone lines, Sibyl takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency Caesarean section on its mother, who appears to have died in labor. But what if--as Sibyl's assistant later charges--the patient wasn't already dead, and it was Sibyl who inadvertently killed her?<P> As recounted by Sibyl's precocious fourteen-year-old daughter, Connie, the ensuing trial bears the earmarks of a witch hunt except for the fact that all its participants are acting from the highest motives--and the defendant increasingly appears to be guilty. As Sibyl Danforth faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.
From the bestselling author of The Double Bind, Skeletons at the Feast, and Secrets of Eden, comes a riveting and dramatic ghost story. In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts. The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 die on impact or drown. The body count? Thirty-nine - a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village - self-proclaimed herbalists - and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous? The result is a poignant and powerful ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian: a palpable sense of place, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply. The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead.From the Hardcover edition.
Over the course of his career, New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on a spectacular array of journeys. Midwives brought us to an isolated Vermont farmhouse on an icy winter's night and a home birth gone tragically wrong. The Double Bind perfectly conjured the Roaring Twenties on Long Island--and a young social worker's descent into madness. And Skeletons at the Feast chronicled the last six months of World War Two in Poland and Germany with nail-biting authenticity. As The Washington Post Book World has noted, Bohjalian writes "the sorts of books people stay awake all night to finish."In his fifteenth book, The Sandcastle Girls, he brings us on a very different kind of journey. This spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012--a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author's Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The First World War is spreading across Europe, and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There, Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo to join the British Army in Egypt, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.Flash forward to the present, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents' ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed the "Ottoman Annex," Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura's grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family's history that reveals love, loss--and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.
'There' says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, when she come up out of the water after her baptism. Just a few short hours later, Alice is dead, shot by her abusive husband who turned the gun on himself soon after. Tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, Reverend Drew feels his faith in God slipping away as he tries to unearth the truth behind Alice's death. Only new arrival Heather Laurent -- the enigmatic author of wildly successful books about angels -- seems able to save him from slipping into the depths of despair. Heather has her own story. She survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents' murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice's daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen. But then the state's attorney begins to suspect that Alice's husband may not have killed himself . . . and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew. Related through the eyes of four different narrators, Secrets of Eden is both a haunting literary thriller and a deeply evocative testament to the inner complexities that mark all of our lives. Once again, Chris Bohjalian has given us a riveting page-turner in which nothing is precisely what it seems.
In January 1945, in the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives: an attempt to cross the remnants of the Third Reich to reach the British and American lines. Among the group is 18-year-old Anna Emmerich, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats. There is her lover, Callum Finnella, a young Scottish prisoner of war who has been brought from the stalag to her family's farm as forced labour. And there is the intriguing Wehrmacht corporal whom the pair know as Manfred - who is, in reality, Uri Singer, a Jew from Germany who managed a daring escape from a train bound for Auschwitz. As they work their way west, they encounter a countryside ravaged by war. Their flight will test both Anna's and Callum's love, as well as their friendship with Manfred - assuming any of them even survive. Skilfully capturing the flesh and blood of history, Bohjalian has crafted a rich tapestry that puts a face on one of the 20th century's greatest tragedies - while creating a masterpiece that will, perhaps, haunt readers for generations.
With Trans-Sister Radio, Chris Bohjalian, author of the bestseller Midwives, again confronts his very human characters with issues larger than themselves, here tackling the explosive issue of gender.<P><P> When Allison Banks develops a crush on Dana Stevens, she knows that he will give her what she needs most: attention, gentleness, kindness, passion. Her daughter, Carly, enthusiastically witnesses the change in her mother. But then a few months into their relationship, Dana tells Allison his secret: he has always been certain that he is a woman born into the wrong skin, and soon he will have a sex-change operation. Allison, overwhelmed by the depth of her passion, and finds herself unable to leave Dana. By deciding to stay, she finds she must confront questions most people never even consider. Not only will her own life and Carly' s be irrevocably changed, she will have to contend with the outrage of a small Vermont community and come to terms with her lover's new body-hoping against hope that her love will transcend the physical.
Set in the Vermont countryside, Water Witches is a tale of the clash between progress and tradition, science and magic. In the midst of a nightmarish New England drought, cynical ski industry lobbyist Scottie Winston is trying to get a large ski resort the permits it needs to tap already beleaguered rivers for snow. His wife, his little girl, and his sister-in-law -- dowsers or "water witches" all -- hope to stop him, however, in this gentle, comic, life-affirming novel.
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