When I reached the end of The Double Bind, I realized that Chris Bohjalian had not just written a book that described mental illness, he found a way for me to experience a small taste of what it must be like to be mentally ill: I entered one world, puzzled over and summarily dismissed any threats to my sense of that world, and then had it shatter as I closed the book. I am still haunted by how tightly I held onto my preconceived notions about the reality in the novel and how devastated I was when the truth was revealed. It is a brilliant piece of writing. I highly recommend that anyone reading this novel first familiarize himself with The Great Gatsby. It had been twenty-five years since I read Gatsby, and I needed a complete refresher course before I could truly appreciate Mr. Bohjalian's work.
About This Item
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 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.
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When I reached the end...
This book blew me away...
This book blew me away! It starts off interestingly enough with a social worker assisting in a homeless shelter. She suffered a severe assault about 7 years before and is still mending psychologically, but is doing ok. Suddenly, the death of one of the men at the shelter brings her into contact with his former life as a photographer and memories of her own as well. The pace quickens and intensifies as the book races to its shocking conclusion. No, I won't tell you what. I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise, but it took me totally unawares. Recommended.
This book is the story...
This book is the story of Laurel Eastabrook who at the start of the novel is working at a shelter for the homeless. Laurel has never completely recovered from a vicious attack that occurred while she was out bike riding. An 82 year old homeless man (Bobby)is brought into the shelter and it seems that he was once a famous photographer. After his death Laurel is given the task of collating a box of photographs found amongst his things in preparation for a possible exhibition and it is then that she is surprised to find a photograph of a girl on a bike that she believes was her taken just before the attack. Laurel becomes obsessed with these photographs as she tries to put together the details of Bobby's life. The story also includes continual references to the characters from the Great Gatsby and develops their lives further. It would have helped to have known this story a little better. I had to check it out after reading the book. The character of Bobby Crocker was inspired by an actual homeless photographer and his photographs appear throughout the book. I felt that Bobby's story was really well told, and one could see how a talented and gifted person such as Bobby, who also suffered from a metal illness, could end up on the streets but at the same time when things were under control he could be a likeable man, capable of great work. I found the plot to be riveting and I always felt there would be something of a twist at the end although I never worked it our completely and the ending was a surprise (no more can be said here) It kept me interested. It is well worth a read..
The first thing I did ...
The first thing I did before I started this book was head to Wikipedia and read a summary of The Great Gatsby, since it's been 12 years since I read it, and it's really an integral part of this book. I recommend that to anyone who picks this up. I often start thinking about what I'm going to say about a book before I finish it. As I neared the end of this, my thoughts were "this wasn't as good as Midwives or Water Witches". Then, Bohjalian gives you a very M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist that completely redeems the story and made me go back and reread parts, to see if I should have seen it coming. Laurel's behavior throughout the book is very strange, but by the end, it all makes sense. All in all, this is a slow starter, but it's worth it in the end.
I was delighted to fin...
I was delighted to find a copy of this having read the excellent "Midwives". Like that earlier novel, 'The Double Bind' is well written with no pockets of inactivity. I always found it good company even in the shortest of reading sessions. The author has a noticeable way of introducing characters - they will remain just names, to be casually referred to, until such time as they matter to the plot, and at that point they will be given the full back-story treatment. It's workmanlike and very effective. The whole thing is tied up with the classic novel "The Great Gatsby", and it came as a jolt to discover in the early stages that this novel takes place in a 'reality' where the events of The Great Gatsby are as real as, say, the shooting of JFK, and in which living breathing descendants of the characters are wandering about. It took a bit of getting my head round. It's worth noting that if you haven't read 'Gatsby' but plan to, don't read this first as there are spoilers everywhere. My main problem with this book was the end. I guessed the main thrust of it, mainly because I had read the extracts of reviews included at the beginning of the book and on the back cover. They didn't mean to give it away, but because they all focussed on one particular theme they pointed me in the right direction. I'm having the same difficulty now - explaining what I didn't like about the novel without leaving spoilers. I hope it won't spoil it for anyone if I say it reminded me of a stick of candy floss - enormous until you get it in your mouth then it shrinks to nothing. Suffice it to say the critic quoted on the back page was right: "It packs a twist at the end that will leave you speechless". It probably will, but not necessarily in a good way.
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