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Before You Know Kindness | [Chris Bohjalian]

Before You Know Kindness

For 10 summers, the extended Seton family met at their country home in New Hampshire to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton, and golf, and drinking gin and tonic on the homestead porch to celebrate the end of the season. But during the 11th summer, everything changes.
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Publisher's Summary

For 10 summers, the extended Seton family met at their country home in New Hampshire to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton, and golf, and drinking gin and tonic on the homestead porch to celebrate the end of the season. But during the 11th summer, everything changes. A hidden, partially loaded hunting rifle winds up in exactly the wrong hands at precisely the wrong time, leading to an inadvertent but terrible accident that tests the values uniting the family and the convictions that might pull it apart.

Rich with unforgettable characters and great depth of feeling, Before You Know Kindness also adds a warmly human dimension to some of the most controversial issues of our time.

©2004 Chris Bohjalian; (P)2004 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"Few writers can manipulate a plot with Bohjalian's grace and power." (The New York Times Book 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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (100 )
5 star
 (26)
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 (36)
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 (27)
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 (7)
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3.8 (30 )
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4.0 (32 )
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Performance
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  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 10-30-04
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 10-30-04 Member Since 2003

    glam

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4360
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    483
    310
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    3757
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    Overall
    "Awesome Read"

    This is Chris Bohjalian as his best. It's like "Midwives" and "The Law of Similars" and "Buffalo Soldier" were just a warmup. He explores numerous aspects of an issue as seen through the characters and their history, their attitudes and their (often conflicting) situations. Such writing could easily become an intellectual exercise but Bohjalian's perceptive insights and dedicated, consistent character development makes this book a joy to read. I couldn't put it down.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn Laguna Beach, CA, USA 02-14-05
    Dawn Laguna Beach, CA, USA 02-14-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book, well-read and produced"

    This is a wonderful novel that stayed with me for a long time afterward. It lent itself (as I think all of Bohjalian's books do) to audio quite well. Bravo to audible for making an unabridged version available!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurene Kingwood, TX, USA 11-15-04
    Laurene Kingwood, TX, USA 11-15-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    173
    5
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    "Give it an hour or two to get rolling..."

    This book started off real slow, but got better after 1 - 2 hours... I am glad I hung in there, it was pretty good. A little too much detail in some spots, but overall a great "read".

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daved Baker San Francisco 01-12-06
    Daved Baker San Francisco 01-12-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    16
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    "Engrossing!"

    This is a very rewarding novel that tackles the issues of gun control and animal rights so deftly and from so many points of view that you'll lose yourself in the inner workings of the characters and the plot, and not realize till you've finished reading it what the book is really about. The author leads you on a detailed journey through each characters inner and outer desires and motivations, interweaving story lines and perspectives seamlessly. If you liked "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" (Kate Atkinson) and "On Beauty" (Zadie Smith) you'll probably like this too.

    Much like "The Kite Runner" (Khaled Hosseini) and "A Changed Man" (Francine Proset) there is also the theme of it never being to late to find redemtion, no matter the sins (real or imagined) commited.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Speer OHIO 01-04-08
    J. Speer OHIO 01-04-08 Member Since 2007

    discerning shopper

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    "Surprisingly Mediocre"

    Mediocre is probably being kind... And let me say right off that I am a Chris Bohjalian fan. Midwives was a fabulous read. I enjoyed The Buffalo Soldier and The Double Bind. I was looking forward to "Before you know..." However I felt the prose was basic, the plot was linear with nothing surprising or out of the ordinary. This could easily have been told as a short story. He overused too many phrases, many times in the same paragraph. It was difficult to finish and I do not recommend it. Steer yourself to the other Bohjalian joys of reading and don't waste time with this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherrie Colorado Springs, CO, United States 07-18-10
    Sherrie Colorado Springs, CO, United States 07-18-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    14
    4
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    "Before you know boredom......."

    Wow. I can't believe I spent 2 credits for this book. I should have gotten the abridged version because this book was too long by half. The characters were not well-drawn and very dull. Patrick was probably my favorite character and that was because he was a baby and didn't do anything or say anything. The author went into excruciating detail on things that I just didn't care about. I kept wanting to tell him to get on with it! I finished it because it was for a book club. Even conversations with my fellow members didn't bring much clarity to this book. I don't think there was anything to clear up, it was just boring. I do know I'll steer clear of this author from now on.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Humphreys Montana, USA 04-28-14
    Martha Humphreys Montana, USA 04-28-14 Member Since 2009

    coachwrite

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
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    73
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    Performance
    Story
    "When Accident Meets Establishment"

    Hardly a page turner, rather an interesting character study of a privileged segment of our culture when a near-miss challenges comfortable assumptions and the integrity of the characters who are committed to various degrees of politically correct fanaticism.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelly Olathe, KS, United States 10-01-13
    Shelly Olathe, KS, United States 10-01-13
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    "Interesting character study"
    If you could sum up Before You Know Kindness in three words, what would they be?

    Insightful, encouraging and at times, maddening


    What did you like best about this story?

    The attention to detail in explaining events that shape the character's response to events.


    What about Susan Denaker’s performance did you like?

    She did a great job of making the many characters come to life through her fluctuation in her voice.


    Who was the most memorable character of Before You Know Kindness and why?

    Charlotte because she essentially grew up in the span of a few months.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy BELLINGEN, Australia 03-26-09
    Wendy BELLINGEN, Australia 03-26-09 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    2
    Overall
    "before you know kindness"

    Fabulous. i love Chris Bohjalians' stories, the complexities and the compassion and detail. Wonderfully narrated. You won't be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherry Londonderry, NH, United States 10-31-04
    Sherry Londonderry, NH, United States 10-31-04 Member Since 2004

    echomeier

    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Too much exposition."

    Chris Bohjalian doesn't trust her readers to "get it." Every move her characters makes is followed by explaining and explaining and explaining. Tiresome. Sorry I bought it.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
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