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Before You Know Kindness

by

Before You Know Kindness Cover

ISBN13: 9781400031658
ISBN10: 1400031656
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Bohjalian's new novel begins with a literal bang: a bullet from a hunting rifle accidentally strikes Spencer McCullough, an extreme advocate for animal rights, leaving him seriously wounded. The weapon — owned by his brother-in-law, John, and shot by his 12-year-old daughter, Charlotte — becomes the center of a lawsuit and media circus led by Spencer's employer, FERAL (Federation for Animal Liberation), a dead ringer for PETA. The many-faceted satire Bohjalian (Midwives, etc.) crafts out of these events revolves around Spencer and Jon's families, but also involves a host of secondary figures. Bohjalian excels at getting inside each character's head with shifts of diction and perspective, though he makes it difficult for readers to connect with any one in particular. This is in part because his portraits are often unsympathetic; the characters are allowed to hoist themselves on their own petards. While some are credibly flawed — Spencer is both a loving father and an obnoxious activist — others are cartoonishly mocked with their own thoughts, like high-powered attorney Paige, who mourns the loss of her leather chairs and briefcases, hidden away for as long as FERAL is a lucrative client. If there is a grounded center to this work, it is 10-year-old Willow, Spencer's niece, who distinguishes herself from this baggy ensemble by always trying to do the right thing. She alone is spared the narrator's irony, and it is Willow, years after the accident, who has the last word. Bohjalian's skewering of the animal rights movement gets the better of his domestic drama, but his skillful storytelling will engage readers. Agent, Yellow Barn Books. (Oct.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Bohjalian's elegant, refined writing makes even the most ordinary details of family life fascinating, and his characters leap off the pages as very real, flawed, but completely sympathetic human beings....A triumph." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"The finely drawn scenes and characters here will suck in all but the hardest-hearted. Pretty much irresistible." Kirkus Reviews

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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"Bohjalian has had much success in the past, including a selection as an Oprah Book Club author. Before You Know Kindness is better than anything he's written before." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Review:

"Bohjalian elegantly guides readers through a labyrinth of opposing viewpoints in a purposeful narrative that seamlessly blends the personal and the political." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"[A]bsorbing....Bohjalian effectively draws the reader into the inner lives of every family member, each of whom is dealing with the tragic event in his or her own unique way." BookPage

Review:

"Before You Know Kindness may very well be his best....Masterly...timely [and] well-wrought." The Boston Globe

Review:

"An irresistible read. Moving from quiet domestic drama to legal thriller." The Washington Post

Review:

"A dark psychological dance of family estrangements, lies and self-righteousness...plenty of finely wrought characters and thought-provoking personal and political drama." The Seattle Times

Synopsis:

Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of Midwives, presents his most ambitious and multi-layered novel to date — examining wildly divisive issues in today's America with his trademark emotional heft and spellbinding storytelling skill.

On a balmy July night in New Hampshire a shot rings out in a garden, and a man falls to the ground, terribly wounded. The wounded man is Spencer McCullough, the shot that hit him was fired?accidentally? — by his adolescent daughter Charlotte. With this shattering moment of violence, Chris Bohjalian launches the best kind of literate page-turner: suspenseful, wryly funny, and humane.

About the Author

Chris Bohjalian is the bestselling author of nine novels, including Midwives (a Publishers Weekly Best Book and an Oprah's Book Club selection), The Buffalo Soldier, and Trans-Sister Radio, as well as Idyll Banter, a collection of his magazine essays and newspaper columns. His work has been translated into seventeen languages and published in twenty countries. He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Krista Smith-Moroziuk, June 16, 2009 (view all comments by Krista Smith-Moroziuk)
Chris Bohjalian has written a great family saga. The characters and place come to life under his pen. You will not want to put it down.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Wendy Robards, May 31, 2008 (view all comments by Wendy Robards)
The Seton and McCullough families are close…and every year they meet in New Hampshire at matriarch Nan Seton’s summer home to spend Memorial Day weekend together. Nan is in her seventies but “vigorous,” and her constant activity (whether it be swimming, golfing or mowing the lawn) drives these family reunions. But when thirteen year old Charlotte finds her Uncle John’s deer hunting rifle and discharges it into the garden on the last day of July, everything changes.

In the opening paragraphs of Chris Bohjalian’s novel Before You Know Kindness, the reader learns that Charlotte’s father, Spencer McCullough - a fanatical vegan animal rights activist - is on the receiving end of his daughter’s shot into the dark. Seriously injured with a crippling arm injury, he is forced to re-examine his life and priorities…and the repercussions of that night will reverberate throughout the family.

Bohjalian is one of my favorite writers because he is skilled at creating gripping story lines and delving deep into his characters’ psyches. In Before You Know Kindness, Bohjalian examines the cracks which lie beneath the surface of a family, and how those cracks can become deep fissures on the heels of one tragic event. Thematically, the novel explores the political argument of gun control and animal rights…and on a more personal level, deals with the ideas of secrets, narcissism, and family relationships.

As a physical therapist, I was pulled into the psychological tension of the novel which develops as a result of a physically devastating accident - how does a person deal with a life-altering disability which has the power to either strengthen or destroy relationships? All of us have the choice to be angry or forgiving in the face of tragedy - what is it that makes us chose one over the other?

Bohjalian’s prose is honest, searing and compelling. Before You Know Kindness is ultimately a story of redemption and the power of forgiveness.

Recommended.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(11 of 22 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400031658
Author:
Bohjalian, Chris
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Author:
Bohjalian, Chris A.
Author:
Chris Bohjalian
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Parent and child
Subject:
Sagas
Subject:
Hunters
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries
Publication Date:
20050831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
7.96x5.30x.94 in. .71 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Before You Know Kindness Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400031658 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Bohjalian's new novel begins with a literal bang: a bullet from a hunting rifle accidentally strikes Spencer McCullough, an extreme advocate for animal rights, leaving him seriously wounded. The weapon — owned by his brother-in-law, John, and shot by his 12-year-old daughter, Charlotte — becomes the center of a lawsuit and media circus led by Spencer's employer, FERAL (Federation for Animal Liberation), a dead ringer for PETA. The many-faceted satire Bohjalian (Midwives, etc.) crafts out of these events revolves around Spencer and Jon's families, but also involves a host of secondary figures. Bohjalian excels at getting inside each character's head with shifts of diction and perspective, though he makes it difficult for readers to connect with any one in particular. This is in part because his portraits are often unsympathetic; the characters are allowed to hoist themselves on their own petards. While some are credibly flawed — Spencer is both a loving father and an obnoxious activist — others are cartoonishly mocked with their own thoughts, like high-powered attorney Paige, who mourns the loss of her leather chairs and briefcases, hidden away for as long as FERAL is a lucrative client. If there is a grounded center to this work, it is 10-year-old Willow, Spencer's niece, who distinguishes herself from this baggy ensemble by always trying to do the right thing. She alone is spared the narrator's irony, and it is Willow, years after the accident, who has the last word. Bohjalian's skewering of the animal rights movement gets the better of his domestic drama, but his skillful storytelling will engage readers. Agent, Yellow Barn Books. (Oct.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Bohjalian's elegant, refined writing makes even the most ordinary details of family life fascinating, and his characters leap off the pages as very real, flawed, but completely sympathetic human beings....A triumph."
"Review" by , "The finely drawn scenes and characters here will suck in all but the hardest-hearted. Pretty much irresistible."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Bohjalian has had much success in the past, including a selection as an Oprah Book Club author. Before You Know Kindness is better than anything he's written before."
"Review" by , "Bohjalian elegantly guides readers through a labyrinth of opposing viewpoints in a purposeful narrative that seamlessly blends the personal and the political."
"Review" by , "[A]bsorbing....Bohjalian effectively draws the reader into the inner lives of every family member, each of whom is dealing with the tragic event in his or her own unique way."
"Review" by , "Before You Know Kindness may very well be his best....Masterly...timely [and] well-wrought."
"Review" by , "An irresistible read. Moving from quiet domestic drama to legal thriller."
"Review" by , "A dark psychological dance of family estrangements, lies and self-righteousness...plenty of finely wrought characters and thought-provoking personal and political drama."
"Synopsis" by , Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of Midwives, presents his most ambitious and multi-layered novel to date — examining wildly divisive issues in today's America with his trademark emotional heft and spellbinding storytelling skill.

On a balmy July night in New Hampshire a shot rings out in a garden, and a man falls to the ground, terribly wounded. The wounded man is Spencer McCullough, the shot that hit him was fired?accidentally? — by his adolescent daughter Charlotte. With this shattering moment of violence, Chris Bohjalian launches the best kind of literate page-turner: suspenseful, wryly funny, and humane.

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