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The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

The Sandcastle Girls (2012)

by Chris Bohjalian

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84010410,738 (3.92)43
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» See also 43 mentions

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Read a long time ago - Girl convinces father to take her to help refugees in Aleppo, Syria during the Armenian genocide during WWI - she falls in love with a soldier (?) who believes his wife and child are dead. ( )
  MariaMigs | Nov 7, 2015 |
I am more than a little embarrassed to admit that I was unaware of the genocide of the Armenian people, until this year. I could have learned about it three years sooner, had I read this book when it was first published.

This is the story of Armen, from Armenia, and Elizabeth, from Boston, as told by their granddaughter. Though she was slightly more aware of the genocide than I was, she really had no idea of its absolute horrors, the atrocious things that had happened to her grandfather and his first family, and the experiences of her grandmother in traveling to Syria to render aid. When a 1915 photograph of a woman with her last name appears in a newspaper, she begins to explore her Armenian past.

Bohjalian is such an excellent writer, and The Sandcastle Girls is no exception. ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Jul 13, 2015 |
The story of the least know genocide of all time - the Armenian Genocide that took place during the first world war. This novel is told through two strong female characters: the young Bostonian who finds herself in the desert confronting horrors she could not have imagined, and her grand daughter many years later who is researching her family's history. This is a story about helplessness before massive cruelty and secrets that must be taken to the grave. ( )
  Juva | Apr 11, 2015 |
This was an interesting story that switched between 1915 and the present within the context of the genocide of the Armenian people in Turkey. In 1915, American Elizabeth Endicott goes to Syria to provide assistance to the Armenians driven out of Turkey and falls in love with Armenian engineer Armen Petrosian, whose wife and daughter had already been killed. Then in present day, Laura Petrosian is researching and writing the story of her grandparents, Elizabeth and Armen, during that time and discovering things that her grandparents never talked about.

There was a lot of sadness in the story because of all the atrocities that were committed. Fortunately, Elizabeth and Armend survive and go to America but there is a bittersweet twist near the end which is not fortunate. This was a solid story but I didn’t like it as much as some of his others. ( )
  gaylebutz | Mar 25, 2015 |
I loved this book in spite of a bit too much coincidence at the ending. The Armenian genocide is surely one of the world's most horrible crimes and yet it is hardly recognized. It is said that history is told by the victors and in this case, there really weren't any victors: the Ottoman Empire disintegrated and the Armenians scattered.

This story is actually set in Aleppo Syria where thousands of Armenians are driven into resettlement camps after being forced out of Turkey by the Turks. WWI finds the Germans fighting on the side of the Turks. An American doctor of Armenian descent and his daughter Elizabeth, a recent graduate of Mt. Holyoke, go to Aleppo to help provide medical relief to the refugees. They stay in the American consulate, a palace compared to the dwellings of Aleppo. Elizabeth soon hardens herself to the harsh surroundings and meets Armen Petrosian, an Armenian engineer. Elizabeth and Armen eventually become the great grandparents of the narrator. Switching from contemporary times and the narrator's search for information and the early 1900's, the story gradually unfolds set in the midst of the horrid circumstances of the Armenian refugees. Central to the story is a series of photographs of the refugees taken by German engineers which are eventually smuggled out of the country making the world aware of the atrocities.

I love Bohjalian's historical fiction (wasn't as fond of his contemporary stories), and this was compelling and interesting leading me to read much more about Armenia and the genocide. The Turks feared the Armenians were conspiring with the Russians during the war; thus their fear. Most of the Armenians are Christian, the Turks Muslims; however, very little is made of the religious issues. The background of WWI provides the setting.

I did feel as if Bohjalian's purpose was really to tell the story of the genocide and he created characters to make it personal. The ending involves a scene where Elizabeth meets Armen's first wife, Karine, who supposedly died in the dreadful march across the desert from Armenia to Allepo. The ending is just a bit too pat, but minor weakness in a powerful story of a dreadful time in history that is virtually unknown. ( )
  maryreinert | Feb 1, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385534795, Hardcover)

The Sandcastle Girls is a sweeping historical love story steeped in Chris Bohjalian's Armenian heritage.
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing,  and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language.  The year is 1915 and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide.  There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter.  When Armen leaves Aleppo and travels south into Egypt to join the British army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.
Fast forward to the present day, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York.  Although her grandparents' ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed "The Ottoman Annex," Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura's grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family's history that reveals love, loss - and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:36 -0400)

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"Parallel stories of a woman who falls in love with an Armenian soldier during the Armenian Genocide and a modern-day New Yorker prompted to rediscover her Armenian past"--

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Average: (3.92)
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1.5 1
2 12
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3 44
3.5 19
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