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Extended Audio Sample The Double Bind: A Novel, by Chris Bohjalian Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (14,020 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chris Bohjalian Narrator: Susan Denaker Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2007 ISBN: 9780739341339
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As the New York Times has said, “Few writers can manipulate a plot with [Chris] Bohjalian’s grace and power.” Now he is back with an ambitious new novel that travels between Jay Gatsby’s Long Island and rural New England, between the Roaring Twenties and the twenty-first century.
When college sophomore Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography and begins to work at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs that he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel discovers that before he was homeless, Bobbie Crocker was a successful photographer.
As Laurel’s fascination with Bobbie’s former life begins to merge into obsession, she becomes convinced that some of his photographs reveal a deeply hidden, dark family secret and falls into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her.
In this spellbinding literary thriller, rich with complex and compelling characters, Chris Bohjalian takes listeners on his most intriguing, most haunting, and most unforgettable journey yet. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Laurel Estabrook, a young social worker living in Vermont, becomes obsessed with a box of photographs that belonged to a deceased homeless man, Bobbie Crocker. An amateur photographer herself, Laurel wonders how someone as destitute as Crocker came to possess such high-quality photos, many of them featuring famous people and, bizarrely, Laurel's childhood town. As she devotes more and more time to researching Crocker's past, her friends and family become concerned for her mental well-being. Six years previously, Laurel was attacked by two men in the woods while riding her bike, and though she recovered enough to finish college and get a job, she remains fragile. Bohjalian, whose Midwives was an Oprah Book Club selection, adds original and creative elements to this tale by blending the story of The Great Gatsby with Laurel's story and including photographs by a real-life homeless man named Bob Campbell. Far from being simply a mystery story, this is a complex exploration of the human psyche and its efforts to heal and survive in whatever manner possible. Recommended for all fiction collections.
    -Library Journal, Starred Review
  • Psychological thriller, crime novel and “what-if” sequel to The Great Gatsby—with significant twists. Schizophrenic, yes, and alcoholic—but Bobbie Crocker isn’t your stereotypical street person. Bohjalian (Before You Know Kindness, 2004, etc.) invests him with mystery; when he dies in Burlington, Vt., he leaves behind photographs from 1960s issues of Life magazine. Eartha Kitt, Dick Van Dyke, Muddy Waters—they’re celebrity shots he took, combined with elegant evocations of Jazz Age Long Island. Laurel Estabrook, social worker at Crocker’s shelter, discovers something else among them: a snapshot of herself riding a bike, just as she had, seven years before, when savaged by two thugs. The attack scarring her, she’d retreated into PTSD therapy, affairs with comforting, if noncommittal, father figures and a life less of ambition than service. Crocker’s photos provide Laurel clues to their strangely interconnected pasts—and she sets out to decode them. Had the homeless man actually been to the manor born, son of Tom and Daisy Buchanan of fabled West Egg? His sister denies it, having spent most of her 70 years trying to whitewash her parents’reputation—Tom’s brutality and Daisy’s suspicious involvement in the car crash that killed one of his lovers. Had those wealthy, morally bankrupt parents caused Bobbie’s “double bind,” provoking schizophrenia by instilling in an unwanted child love/hate mixed messages? Or could Bobbie’s father be someone yet more notorious, the darkly glamorous star of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece? And why was Laurel’s own likeness found in Crocker’s cache? Sleuthing obsessively, she discovers that Bobbie had a son himself, a boy who grew up to terrify his father. And terrify her. Conflating literary lore, photographic analysis and meditations on homelessness and mental illness, Bohjalian produces his best and most complex fiction yet. Ultra-clever, and moving, too.
    - Kirkus, Starred Review
  • The Double Bind races toward a conclusion that boasts a shocking twist. . .This elegantly crafted tale is well worth delving into. Booklist
  • "Chris Bohjalian's The Double Bind is simply one of the best written, most compelling, artfully woven novels to grace bookshelves in years. AP review
  • Bohjalian is a master of literary suspense. Washington Post Book World
  • Critics are giving Bohjalian…high marks for The Double Bind. USA Today
  • [An] imaginatively crafted novel. Newsweek
  • Great fiction…un-put-downable. People
  • This is top-notch Bohjalian fiction. Entertainment Weekly
  • A literate thriller about homelessness, random brutality and an obsession with characters from Fitzgerald's ‘Great Gatsby.’ -New York Post
    “[Bohjalian writes] the sorts of books people stay awake all night to finish, and The Double Bind exerts that same hypnotic tug.
  • Clearly the most viscerally exciting of Bohjalian's normally cerebral books. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • This psychological thriller…offers a chilling depiction of the ways we choose to remember as well as what we forget. Daily News
  • An intriguing mix of fact and fiction. . .powerful. . .a shocker The Courant
  • Bohjalian fills The Double Bind with gripping twists and turns. Redbook
  • Part mystery and part psychological exploration…will certainly be interesting book-group fodder. The Denver Post
  • Part psychological mystery and part literary puzzle. The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
  • The suspense takes a twist at the end, which flips the story upside down. Vermont Today
  • A page-turner with a wicked twist at the end. LIFE
  • [An] artfully crafted, terrifying new novel.... Bohjalian has written a literary thriller. LA Times
  • Truth may be stranger than fiction, but this book makes the case that truth is also more valuable as a source of inspiration. Daily News

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 2/9/2014

    " Well written and has a very interesting twist. Not sure if it was obvious or if it was clever. A very good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn | 2/8/2014

    " This is a very engrossing but creepy read. I didn't figure out what was going on until near the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kara | 2/6/2014

    " If I could give half stars, this book would get 3.5 stars instead of 3. But I'm rounding down b/c I thought it was just ok. A twist at the end is surprising, but doesn't quite make sense or pull everything together. Overall though, and interesting read with an unexpected ending. I would recommend it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maritza | 2/4/2014

    " wow........... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly | 1/30/2014

    " I never read a book that made me so mad at the end. Great book and I didn't see the end coming at all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen Kiernan | 1/19/2014

    " harrowing, compelling opening, then a strange and wonderful mix of Gatsby and contemporary society. an impressively compassionate view toward people who are homeless (including powerful photos by a photographer who became homeless). and then a complete surprise ending that makes total sense and requires the reader to rethink assumptions made for the entire book. clever and rewarding. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judith Guyot | 1/14/2014

    " Interesting story weaving real and imagined. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nancy | 1/13/2014

    " Having a hard time with this one I can't seem to get into it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joan | 1/7/2014

    " Loved this and what an ending! Didn't see it coming and recommended to my Book Club which led to a great discussion! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mitzi | 12/15/2013

    " Fascinating book! Shocking ending! I was totally captivated. Would recommend reading The Great Gatsby before this or at least refreshing your memory about it. Highly recommend this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 11/10/2013

    " enjoyed it very much...until the end. in so many ways it doesn't make sense, but it still kept me turning pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pattie | 11/8/2013

    " Interesting twist at the end ... but a little depressing for my taste. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katie | 10/31/2013

    " I don't know if it's fair to review this, as I found the rape scene so disturbing that I stopped reading it - if I had known it was going to be so graphic, I never would have picked it up! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joie | 10/14/2013

    " I gave this book an only ok review because I figured out the big twist early on and it made the rest of the book somewhat boring. The story was creative and interesting though, but I just wasn't in love with it. I'm eager to read some more of Bohjalian's books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynne | 9/28/2013

    " My least favorite of Bohjalian's books "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleen | 9/23/2013

    " I gave this book 5 stars! I couldn't put it down. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ric | 8/5/2013

    " Incredibly depressing and disturbing....almost soul-suckingly so. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janis | 5/19/2013

    " Nothing is what it seems...a very captivating story. I wanted to start it all over once I read it. Highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Jo | 4/25/2013

    " Wow, I read this book twice!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin Jones | 3/16/2013

    " I liked how the author paced the story line. It was a steady build-up that was respectful of the book's delicate topics of mental health, homelessness and sexual violence. And I loved how it used The Great Gatsby. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shauna | 12/16/2012

    " This book was interesting. I could relate to the frustration and kept wondering about the truth of the Gatsby story. I had a hard time keeping with it towards the end...but the end turned in some crazy directions that made me think. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grammygoodson | 11/29/2012

    " A very good book that had a surprise ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy Flint | 11/2/2012

    " This book was interesting. In parts it was predicable, however, it made me want to read The Great Gatsby, which, I can't believe I haven't read. I think if I had read Gatsby first I would have understood the characters more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 8/22/2012

    " I got into this book and was enjoying it until the very ending. It made the whole book seem like a waste of time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 5/13/2012

    " Really enjoyed this one - my first read of this author's books so now getting some more on my TBR. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pat | 10/20/2011

    " Boy, this had a surprise ending! I love his books, and they are all different from one another. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 9/8/2011

    " Great twist at the end!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 6/23/2011

    " I really enjoyed the story overall, but the ending really made me mad! The ending ruined it for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debie | 6/9/2011

    " Interesting tale of a young social worker who fights her personal demons as she seaches to find answers in a box of photos left behind by a homeless client. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diana | 6/4/2011

    " It started me wondering about Nick Gatsby, so I had to read more about him. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristin | 6/1/2011

    " I couldn't decide if the end was a fantasy, a brilliant piece of writing, or if I'd been had. On further reflection, I believe I was had. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 5/23/2011

    " Interesting story that initially had me confused. Jay Gatsby was real? But, of course, this is but one of the mysteries that kept me reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 5/22/2011

    " Very disturbing book. Well written but the kind of unsettling story that just stays with you. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 5/19/2011

    " three stars isn't entirely accurate. i think 3.75 stars would be better. perhaps the "ta-da! she had a psychotic break" finale was a bit cliche as literary fiction goes. however, i still really enjoy the author, and will continue to read his work. "

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