The Guest Room

The Guest Room

by Chris Bohjalian


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes the spellbinding tale of a party gone horribly wrong: two men lie dead in a suburban living room, two women are on the run from police, and a marriage is ripping apart at the seams.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594792673
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 30,695
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the author of twenty books, including The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; The Double Bind; and Midwives which was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club. Chris's work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). Chris lives in Vermont and can be found at or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads.


Lincoln, Vermont

Date of Birth:

August 12, 1961

Place of Birth:

White Plains, New York


Amherst College

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Excerpted from "The Guest Room"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Chris Bohjalian.
Excerpted by permission of Diversified Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The following guide has been designed to aid your discussion of Chris Bohjalian's newest novel of domestic suspense, The Guest Room.

When his calendar permits, Chris Bohjalian is available to meet with reading groups via Skype or speakerphone. Visit for details.

1. When Anahit is forced to become Alexandra, what happens to her sense of self? How is she able to secretly retain many aspects of her true identity—particularly her sense of humor and her intellect? How does she navigate the multitude of cultures beyond her Armenian homeland? How would you fare in her situation?

2. If you were Kristin, how would you have reacted to Richard’s story? If you were Nicole, would you have broken off the engagement to Philip?

3. If the bachelor party had featured strippers or prostitutes who had freely chosen their line of work, would you call the debauchery harmless? Is a career in the sex trade ever freely chosen?

4. Discuss the psychological tactics Alexandra’s captors use against her. Is there anything she and her beloved grandmother could have done to see through Vasily’s promises?

5. How will Melissa be affected by the aftermath of her uncle’s party? How will these memories shape her understanding of a woman’s role in the world, and the nature of suffering?

6. Is Spencer simply motivated by money, or does he also crave power? How much does he have in common with Kirill and Pavel?

7. At the end of chapter 5, Alexandra says she never had faith in hatred, like Sonja did. What accounts for the differences between Sonja and Alexandra? What is the source of Alexandra’s resilience and her inability to become “good at hatred”?

8. Are most of the men you know similar to Richard, or are they more like his brother, Philip? Are Alexandra’s images from The Bachelor totally unrealistic?

9. How were you affected by the story Alexandra tells Richard about the crates of Barbie dolls? How do her memories of the dolls compare to Melissa and Kristin’s visit to FAO Schwarz?

10. As Alexandra and Richard struggled to be free of their separate turmoil, what outcomes were you envisioning for them? How did the ending compare to your predictions?

11. How did The Guest Room enhance your experience of other novels by Chris Bohjalian? What’s special about the worlds he brings to life in his storylines?

12. Although it’s a work of fiction, The Guest Room opens our eyes to the tragic reality of human trafficking. How can a novel spur change? How is a novelist’s approach different from that of journalists?

13. What should we teach our daughters and sons about sexuality and exploitation? Does sex appeal make a woman powerful, or does it make her vulnerable?

To learn more and become part of the solution, visit, the site for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. CAST is one of the many important organizations that work to assist persons trafficked for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, and other instances of appalling human rights violations.

Facts About Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery

• According to the U.S. State Department, perhaps three-quarters of a million people are trafficked across international borders every year—and then there are the millions trafficked within their own countries.
• The International Labor Organization estimates that 14.2 million people are victims of forced labor exploitation in economic activities, such as agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing. The ILO also estimates 4.5 million people were forced into sexual exploitation globally in 2014.
• About two million children every year are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.
• The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimates that one out of every six runaways is a likely sex trafficking victim.

If you are in an emergency situation or have a credible tip, call the CAST 24-hour hotline to speak to an emergency responder: 1 (888) KEY-2-FREEDOM.

Customer Reviews

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The Guest Room 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Realistic dialogue and fast moving plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast paced like Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. Great story development and characters that you want to love and root for. Reminded me of books by Jodie Piccoult. A story that i will think about for a long time.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
As always, an informative and spellbinding tale by Chris Bohjalian. I had just finished Petrocelli, and this is another frank examination of the sex slave and trafficking trade, again involving girls from Armenia and Russia. These girls are so well defined and fleshed out that you feel like they are family. Every adult American should read this book.
bookworm1954DB More than 1 year ago
I don't know what to say about this book except: Riveting! I will probably write better review later, however, I wanted everyone to know what a page turner this book is. It is based on sex slaves and abduction. It has murder and mayhem. It has love and caring. It encompasses everything into one amazing, incredible ride of a read! Chris Bohjalian is a very gifted and amazing storyteller. This was my first book by him and it isn't for sale yet, but write down the name, you need to read it. It is vividly descriptive with a cast of characters that are complex and so well developed that you will feel their fear, pain and love. It encompasses the moral consequences of our actions and how what we do and how we handle things can lead us down roads we can not fathom. Sex slavery is a real problem, with real children and teens. It ruins lives. Read this book for them and for yourself. Be aware, it happens right here in the USA! I hope I have done this book justice, there is so much more to say, but I don't want to give it all away. Read this book when it comes out. I know I will be reading all of Chris Bohjalian's books after this one. Unbelievable read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I simply couldn't put this book down but then again, when it comes to Mr. Bohjalians books I can never get enough.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to author Chris Bohjalian through his book The Sandcastle Girls. I enjoyed that book, so when offered the chance to read his new book The Guest Room, I jumped at the chance. Richard somewhat begrudgingly throws his younger brother Philip a bachelor party. He finds the home he shares with his wife and little girl filled with men he doesn't particularly care for, and seeing things he didn't plan on seeing. He knew that there would probably be strippers, but he gets way more than he bargained for when the girls begin having sex with his brother and other attendees, and even doing so right in front of him and the other party goers. Then before he knows it, he finds himself in an upstairs guest room with one of the strippers lying naked on the bed. Fast forward a short while later, and Richard is left standing in a living room splattered with blood and two dead men. The strippers have killed their "bodyguards", and run off armed and with money lifted off the bodies. In the days to follow, Richard learns that the "strippers" are actually believed to have been victims of human trafficking-- possibly Russian sex slaves. And his life soon begins to spiral out of his control as he must suffer the consequences of his poor decisions that night, and must answer to more than just his wife. My final word: This was an interesting book. I'm feeling a wee bit ambivalent about it. I liked it okay, but it felt a little light. It sort of felt like a short story-- a little abbreviated, not too much depth to most of the characters (other than Alexandra). It was "okay". It was good enough to recommend for consideration for my book club, but it just wasn't a really exciting or deep read.
Old_Dog More than 1 year ago
I read this book after it was positively reviewed in our local Sunday newspaper. I found the premise intriguing and the story shines a new light on men and and their fascination with sex, women, prostitution and pornography. The author is not "preachy" in his approach, but nevertheless provides and interesting perspective on the participants (both purveyors and consumers) in the sex-as-entertainment milieu. What are their motivations and backgrounds; who are the victims and what are the potential consequences?
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bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
What I like about a new Chris Bohjalian book is that you know it's always going to be an intriguing story that tackles an important issue. He's dealt with such topics as mental illness (The Double Bind), domestic abuse (Secrets of Eden), the Armenian genocide (The Sandcastle Girls) and now the global sex slave trade in his gripping novel The Guest Room. Kristine takes her eight-year-old daughter to visit her mother overnight in New York City while her husband Richard hosts a bachelor party for his n'er-do-well brother in their suburban home. She's not crazy about her immature brother-in-law Phillip and his friends, but Richard doesn't have many friends or go out much, so she hopes this will be a fun night for him. Phillip's best friend Spencer arranges for two strippers to come to the house, but when they arrive, it's clear that these are the not the kind of women Richard envisioned. The two young women are more than strippers, they are prostitutes. Things get way out of hand, and Richard ends up in the guest room with one of the young women, Alexandra, about to make a very bad mistake. It turns out that these two women were kidnapped and forced into sex slavery and when the women kill their bodyguards/captors in his house, Richard's life turns upside down. He has to tell his wife, who has to tell their young daughter. The lurid story is all over the news, Richard is forced to take a leave of absence from his lucrative job and they can't go back into their house as it is a crime scene. It is a nightmare. The story is also told from Alexandra's viewpoint. After losing her father, she is tricked into leaving her mother, believing she is going to study dance in Russia. The man who was her benefactor became her nightmare. At the age of fourteen she was forced into prostitution. She was beaten and raped repeatedly until she realized there was no way out. Bohjalian describes in graphic detail the brutality these young women are subjected to. It is horrifying to read on the page, I can't imagine the actual reality of it. For five long years Alex is locked away, forced to service men. At the age of nineteen, she and three other young women are sent to New York where they can make more money for the Russian mobsters. One of them is killed by their captors, and then they go to the party at Richard's, where Alexandra's friend decides to change her fate. The story is riveting, and The Guest Room is definitely a page-turning nail-biter. As Alexandra is on the run, trying to avoid the Russian mobsters and police looking for her, and Richard tries to put his life back together, their stories collide. The ending is shocking and will send you for a loop. The Guest Room is just heartbreaking, and the fact that this goes on right here is mind-numbing. I highly recommend The Guest Room, it combines a sad story with a thriller's pace and you'll race through it. And if your husband asks to host a bachelor party in your home, just say no.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a page turner. It's interesting how your entire life can change instantly. That is what happens in this book. A bachelor party gone wrong and the damage it does to those involved. I could not put it down and I look forward to reading more by this writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all of Bohjalian's work, but this one was especially powerful and timely. At once suspenseful and beautifully written.
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
I would like to thank Doubleday Books & NetGalley for giving me a copy of this e-ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Once again Mr. Bohjalian knocks it out of the park. His most recent book is an incredible blend of horror, heartbreak, and redemption. His prose sings like a Stradivarius when played by a virtuoso, bringing you so deep into the story that you lose track of where you end and the story begins. Tackling themes of sex trafficking, infidelity, and murder should look difficult, yet it is crystal clear that Bohjalian is in his comfort zone even with issues as challenging as these. He deftly managed to craft a story that could easily have gone over into the realm of sensationalism, or voyeurism, yet in his skilled hands retained balance, and a real sense of humanity. Richard Chapman should be reviled according to those outside of the events of that fatal evening. Even his own wife no longer knows what to believe. Yet throughout the story he remains true to his character, even during moments of inner dialogue. Watching as he tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered life is riveting, which is a testament to Bohjalian's skill, since Richard's story is up against the sensational story of a young, beautiful sex slave. Somehow the arc of this story, the very pacing, is near perfect. Everything seems to unfurl at just the right time and place, nothing feeling remotely forced to fit where it shouldn't. Alexandra shares her history as the current debacle unfolds around everyone, bouncing between the past and present. Through her we learn of the many intimate horrors visited upon girls taken into the sex trade by force. The very dispassion with which she shares her story serves to underscore the terror these girls live in. Without ever preaching Bohjalian manages to make this a lesson into the realities of the human sex trade couched in a fictional story, leaving it palatable for readers while educating them nonetheless. It is going to be a tough act for him to follow, and I eagerly look forward to what amazing story he next elects to share with us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, suspenseful to the end with great storytelling!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really liked this book. It was an easy read and didn’t go into gory details and that helped me connect to the character more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So well written
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
I usually do not like books by Chris Bohjalian, so this was a surprise. The book centers on two characters: a sex slave and an upscale man. Richard Chapman allows his younger brother to conduct his bachelor party at his house. Richard's wife and daughter go to his mother-in-law's house to escape the party. What follows plummets Richard into despair and frustration. The two sex slave girls kill their captors and flee, after leaving the house sprayed with blood and evidence. The story switches perspective from Richard and Alexandra as the story unwinds. The reader sees all the angles of the story, except for the Russian men holding these girls as sex slaves. A disturbing story.
IREAD4ME More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a very decent man who gives his younger brother a bachelor party, before his wedding. This event changes his life forever. Even though this is about a seedy world that this man is not accustomed to, it isn't a seedy book. I found it to be well- written and entertaining to read.