Audiobook Review: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

The Guest Room
Chris Bohjalian


Kristin Chapman has agreed to let her husband, Richard host a bachelor party for his younger brother, Philip. She’s sure there will be hired entertainment, but she trusts Richard, even though Philip and his friends are a bit on the wild side. After all, Richard and Kristin are settled, in the prime of their lives and enjoying the comforts of wealth and success. Philip is a managing partner of a New York investment banking firm, Kristin is a respected high school teacher and they live with their young daughter in an upscale neighborhood in Westchester.

But wild is not the word. Before long, the burly and intimidating bodyguards who accompanied the “dancers” are dead and the girls, Sonja and Alexandra, have fled the house, leaving Richard, Philip and the rest of the guys in a wrecked house with the two dead men.

When morning comes, Richard begins to grasp how much trouble he’s in. Shame and horror fill him when Kristin learns of her husband’s transgressions and their young daughter is exposed to a sordid and dangerous world.

The repercussions of these events are endless. The story explodes on the internet, news reporters hound him and friends keep their distance. Richard is put on leave at work, Kristin shuns him and their daughter worries her parents will divorce. And it’s soon revealed that the Russian girls, possibly underage, had been kidnapped and were brought to New York as sex workers. Richard also faces lawsuits and a blackmail scheme, but the worst is the damage to his family. Or maybe the worst is that Richard is haunted by his encounter with Alexandra.

As detectives chase down the Russians behind the girls’ kidnappers, as well as the girls, Richard, now understands Alexandra and Sonja’s situation, tries to do what’s right and fix his marriage, leading to the inevitable confrontation between the story’s players. Throughout the story, both Richard and Kristin, whose voice is strong in the story, struggle with their decisions as they face their losses.

I enjoyed the audiobook version of The Guest Room, narrated by Grace Experience and Mozhan Marno, who switch between Alexandra’s story and the third person voices in the alternate chapters. I was especially drawn into the story by Experience, the voice of Alexandra. Through the author’s story and Experience’s voice, the audiobook provides a sobering look into brutal sex trafficking crimes. Marno has great range and deftly manages the other characters’ personalities, with subtle changes in her voice. Through both voices, I felt I knew the characters well.

I also enjoyed the author’s smart descriptions of the Chapman’s home and their lives. The fact that many of their things are ruined is a great reflection on how their lives may also be wrecked. Bohjalian is also great at presenting different points of view and showing his characters’ weaknesses. I felt the dread of each of the characters, even the ones I didn’t like.

I listened to The Guest Room during my many walks this week and recommend it to listeners who like stories with characters who make bad decisions.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


15 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

    1. Hi Jan – same here. I read The Flight Attendant a couple years ago and thought it was excellent. Thanks for stopping by – hope you are doing well 🙂

  1. Woah, that’s some party. This sounds like an interesting read. I do enjoy characters who make poor decisions…I’ve certainly made my share. Thanks for the review, Barbara!

    1. HI Jill. Yes, there is something about watching characters go down the wrong path that keeps us interested. Like you, I’ve been on some of those roads! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    1. I had to look up a couple words along the way, though! Great plot – I really got into it. Thanks for stopping by, Dee. Hope you are doing alright during this strange time.

      1. Thank you 🙂 I’m doing alright. It is a very strange time that’s for sure. It’s nice when I can distract myself with a good book or movie but it comes back quickly. I hope you and your family stay safe!! ❤

      2. Hi Dee – yes I find reading and watching something are good distractions. I’m very lucky – we have most of my family here right now and a son close by. Thanks for stopping by – stay healthy 🙂

    1. Hi Robbie – I especially enjoyed this audiobook version. More and more, it seems the audiobooks are major productions, so polished and professional. This is one example. Thanks for reading 🙂

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