5 Sep 2019, 5:27am

Comments Off on Kate’s 2¢: “The Flight Attendant”, “the sleepwalker”, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands”, “The Water Witches”, “Before You Know Kindness”, “,”The Sandcastle Girls”, “The Night Strangers”, “Secrets of Eden”, and “The Guest Room” by Chris Bohjalian

Kate’s 2¢: “The Flight Attendant”, “the sleepwalker”, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands”, “The Water Witches”, “Before You Know Kindness”, “,”The Sandcastle Girls”, “The Night Strangers”, “Secrets of Eden”, and “The Guest Room” by Chris Bohjalian

Kate’s 2¢: “The Flight Attendant”, “the sleepwalker”, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands”, “The Water Witches”, “Before You Know Kindness”, “,”The Sandcastle Girls”, “The Night Strangers”,  “Secrets of Eden”, and “The Guest Room” by Chris Bohjalian


Kate’s 2¢: There is a plethora of in-depth biographies of authors and reviews of their books, that state the title, author, published date, and genre; as well as,     describing what the book is about, setting, and character(s), so, Kate’s 2¢ merely shares my thoughts about what I read. I’m just saying…


I listened to Jordan Rich’s PODcast “Books In Three Bytes: when he interviewed Chris Bohjalian about his new book “The Flight Attendant”. I read it and then read “the sleepwalker”, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands”, “The Water Witches”, “Before You Know Kindness”, “,”The Sandcastle Girls”, “The Night Strangers”, and “Secrets of Eden”.

Bohjalian states that although is novels are works of imagination,  He tries to ground his novels in the historical particulars to convey the feel of the time, place, and culture.

While it is true that writers write when they are alone, perhaps in a seemingly vacuum, the acknowledgement list for “The Night Strangers” prove that it really is a group effort.

His technique in several books seems to start with a shocking prologue, then, has the youth narrate the story and, in the epilogue, the adult child wrap up any loose ends.

In ”The Sandcastle Girls”, however, I found the jumping from grown child back to grandparents, to parents, to grandchild a bit confusing. Perhaps, in the print copy, there are little symbols to indicate the back-flash or current time. It is a story full of tragedy, desolation, and man’s inhumanity to man (and woman), but, weaves in an enduring love story  of her Armenian grandfather and Boston bred Grandmother.

I like that “Secrets of Eden” has a study guide at the end of the story, but, be sure to read the story first.

In “The Guest Room”, Bohjalian refers to the Armenian massacre by featuring an Armenian girl forced to be a sex slave. While I thought of a number of other endings for this story, I suppose having the good guy die was better for everyone all around.

I’m going to read more of Chris Bohjalian’s books.




Chris Bohjalian graduated from Amherst College Summa Cum Laude, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. In the mid-1980s, he worked as an account representative for J. Walter Thompson, an ad agency, in New York.[2] He moved with his wife to Lincoln, Vermont, in 1988.

In Lincoln, Bohjalian began writing weekly columns for local newspaper and magazine about living in the small town, which had a population of about 975 residents. The column ran in the Burlington Free Press from 1992 through 2015 and won a Best Lifestyle Column from the Vermont Press Association. Bohjalian has also written for such magazines as Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.

Bohjalian’s first novel, A Killing in the Real World, was released in 1988. His third novel, Past the Bleachers, was released in 1992 and was adapted to a Hallmark Channel television movie in 1995.

In 1998, Bohjalian wrote his fifth book, Midwives, a novel focusing on rural Vermont midwife Sibyl Danforth, who becomes embroiled in a legal battle after one of her patients died following an emergency Caesarean section. The novel was critically acclaimed and was selected by Oprah Winfrey as the October 1998 selection of her Oprah’s Book Club. It became a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestseller. In 2001, the novel was adapted into a Lifetime Movie Network television film starring Sissy Spacek in the lead role. Spacek said the Danforth character appealed to her because “the heart of the story is my character’s inner struggle with self-doubt, the solo road you travel when you have a secret”.

Later career

Bohjalian followed Midwives with the 1999 novel The Law of Similars, about a widower attorney suffering from nameless anxieties who starts dating a woman who practices alternative medicine. The novel was inspired by Bohjalian’s real-life visit to a homeopath in an attempt to cure frequent colds he was catching from his daughter’s day care center. Bohjalian said of the visit, “I don’t think I imagined there was a novel in homeopathy, however, until I met the homeopath and she explained to me the protocols of healing. There was a poetry to the language that a patient doesn’t hear when visiting a conventional doctor.” The protagonist, a father, is based in part on Bohjalian himself, and his four-year-old daughter is based largely on Bohjalian’s daughter, who was three when he was writing the book. Liz Rosenberg of The New York Times said in her review, “Few writers can manipulate a plot with Bohjalian’s grace and power.” But she felt that the novel shared too many similarities with Midwives; Rosenberg said, “Unlike its predecessor, it fails to take advantage of Bohjalian’s great gift for creating thoughtful fiction featuring characters in whom the reader sustains a lively interest.” Megan Harlan of The Boston Phoenix described it as “formulaic fiction” and said Bohjalian focused too much on creating a complex plot and not enough of complex characterizations. The Law of Similars, like Midwives, made the New York Times bestsellers list.

He won the New England Book Award in 2002.

The Double Bind was a Barnes & Noble Recommends Selection in 2007 and debuted at #3 on the “New York Times” bestseller list.

In 2008, Bohjalian released Skeletons at the Feast, a love story set in the last six months of World War II in Poland and Germany. The novel was inspired by an unpublished diary written by German citizen Eva Henatsch from 1920 to 1945. The diary was given to Bohjalian in 1998 by Henatsch’s grandson Gerd Krahn, a friend of Bohjalian, who had a daughter in the same kindergarten class as Bohjalian’s daughter. Bohjalian was particularly fascinated by Henatsch’s account of her family’s trek west ahead of the Soviet Army, but he was not inspired to write a novel from it until 2006, when he read Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, Max Hastings’ history of the final years of World War II. Bohjalian was struck not only by how often Henatsch’s story mirrored real-life experiences, but also the common “moments of idiosyncratic human connection” found in both. Skeletons at the Feast was considered a departure for Bohjalian because it was not only set outside of Vermont, but set in a particular historical moment. The novel was an enormous commercial and critical success: It was Bohjalian’s fifth New York Times bestseller and was selected a “Best Book of the Year” by the “Washington Post” and the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch.” It was also an NBC Today Show “Top Ten” summer pick in 2008.

His 2010 novel, Secrets of Eden, was also a critical success, receiving starred reviews from three of the four trade journals (Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly), as well as many newspapers and magazines. It debuted at # 6 on the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. It premiered as a Lifetime Television movie on February 4, 2012, starring John Stamos, Dorsa Giyahi and Anna Gunn. This was the third time one of Bohjalian’s novels was adapted for a movie, following Past the Bleachers in 1995 and Midwives in 2001.

His thirteenth novel, The Night Strangers, was published in 2011. It’s a ghost story and received excellent critical reviews and drew comparisons to the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Atwood, Alice Sebold, Stephen King, and Ira Levin. But reader response was mixed, with some readers frustrated with the ending and Bohjalian’s use of the second person for parts of the narration. The book won the New England Society Book Award for fiction in April 2012.

His The Sandcastle Girls (2012) is about the Armenian Genocide and its century-long denial by Turkey. The novel includes two stories in one: the story of Elizabeth Endicott and Armen Petrosian, lovers who meet in Syria during the genocide; and the story of Laura Petrosian, their granddaughter, who after a century tries to understand why they were so silent about their youth, while her suburban existence is quite different from the violent setting in which her grandparents fell in love. According to USA Today, Bohjalian makes “a near-century-old event come to life in a way that will make readers gasp with shock that such a terrible event — Turkey’s determination to kill all the Armenians in their country — is such a small part of our knowledge of world history”. Oprah Winfrey chose it as a Book of the Week: “This rendering of one of history’s greatest (and least known) tragedies is a nuanced, sophisticated portrayal of what it means not only to endure but also to insist on hope”.

Since then he has written such other New York Times bestsellers as The Light in the Ruins; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Guest Room; The Sleepwalker; and the forthcoming, The Flight Attendant.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.

On September 1, 2017, Bohjalian spoke a Vardanants Day Armenian Lecture at the Library of Congress.

Writing style

Bohjalian novels often focus on a specific issue, such as homelessness, animal rights and environmentalism, and tend to be character-driven, revolving around complex and flawed protagonists and secondary characters. Bohjalian uses characteristics from his real life in his writings; in particular, many of his novels take place in fictional Vermont towns, and the names of real New Hampshire towns are often used throughout his stories. Bohjalian said, “Writers can talk with agonizing hubris about finding their voices, but for me, it was in Vermont that I discovered issues, things that matter to me.” His novels also tend to focus on ordinary people facing extraordinarily difficult situations resulting from unforeseen circumstances, often triggered by other parties.

Personal life

Chris Bohjalian was born to an Armenian father and Swedish mother. His Armenian grandparents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. On October 13, 1984, Bohjalian married Victoria Schaeffer Blewer during a ceremony at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City; his brother, Andrew Peter Bohjalian, served as his best man. Chris and Victoria live in Vermont. Their daughter, Grace Experience, is an actor based in Manhattan.[10]



The flight attendant DB90518

Bohjalian, Chris. Reading time: 11 hours, 40 minutes.

Read by Erin Spencer.


Mystery and Detective Stories


Binge-drinking flight attendant Cassandra Bowden has the occasional blackout. Waking up in a Dubai hotel room trying to piece together the previous night, she looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his utter stillness and still wet blood, and begins to lie. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2018.


Before you know kindness DBC05525

Bohjalian, Chris. Reading time: 14 hours, 53 minutes.

Read by Barbara Plude. A production of Connecticut State Library, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.


Suspense Fiction



At a family reunion in New Hampshire, twelve-year-old Charlotte mistakes her father for a deer while hunting with her uncle’s rifle. Her father’s animal rights activist group brings the divisive issues of gun control and animal rights to the forefront in this spellbinding page-turner. Some violence.


Close your eyes, hold hands: a novel DB78965

Bohjalian, Chris. Reading time: 8 hours, 17 minutes.

Read by Grace Blewer.




Living in an igloo of ice and trash bags half a year after a cataclysmic nuclear disaster, Emily is convinced that she will be hated as the daughter of the drunken father who caused the meltdown. She assumes a fictional identity while protecting a homeless boy. Violence, strong language, and descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2014.


The night strangers: a novel DB75918

Bohjalian, Chris. Reading time: 15 hours, 34 minutes.

Read by Erik Sandvold.


Supernatural and Horror Fiction


After pilot Chip Linton crash lands his plane into Lake Champlain, killing thirty-nine passengers, he, his wife, and their ten-year-old twin daughters escape to a small New Hampshire town. But their Victorian house is haunted, and the town is full of witches, who focus on the twins. Some violence, some strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2011.


The sandcastle girls: a novel DB75215

Bohjalian, Chris. Reading time: 11 hours, 29 minutes.

Read by J. Michael McCullough.


Historical Fiction



Syria, 1915. American Elizabeth Endicott is helping Armenian refugees from Turkey when she meets Armen Petrosian, whose family has been wiped out by genocide. Years later Armen and Elizabeth’s granddaughter Laura learns of her forebears’ history–and a buried secret. Some violence and some descriptions of sex. 2012.


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