Vintage Contemporaries

Before You Know Kindness

Publisher: Vintage

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.


The sun was up over Washington, Lafayette, and the trio of nearby cannonball-shaped mountains that were called the Three Graces, and Nan Seton—elderly but far from frail—sat sipping her morning coffee on a chaise lounge on the Victorian house's wraparound porch. She noted how the sun was rising much later now...
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Every summer the extended Setons family gathers at the family homestead in New Hampshire, where Nan Seton, age seventy, presides over what her children and grandchildren jokingly call “The Seton New England Boot Camp.” The hectic schedule of golf and tennis and swimming at the club, nature hikes before dinner...
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"Before You Know Kindness may very well be his best. . . . Masterly . . . timely [and] well-wrought." –The Boston Globe

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

"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

"Extraordinary. . . . 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