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The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
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The Sandcastle Girls (2012)

by Chris Bohjalian

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9581129,051 (3.92)46
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Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
I did not enjoy this book at all. Perhaps the subject matter was too dark- the Armenian Genocide. Or perhaps it was the flipping back and forth from Syria in 1915 to New York in 2012. It was definitely too heavy for reading in this beautiful spring weather. ( )
  bettyroche | Jun 2, 2016 |
The Sandcastle Girls – Chris Bohjalian
3 stars

Once again, a story with two timelines; contemporary and historical. A twenty-first century novelist begins to explore her Armenian ancestry. Her research leads her to her grandparent’s courtship and the Armenian genocide. The story line shifts between the actual events of 1915 and the contemporary discoveries of Laura Petrosian.

The 1915 story line was by far the most interesting. I liked Elizabeth Endicott and the other American characters. Bohjalian approaches the horror of the catastrophe from the perspective of these American relief workers who clearly don’t know the extent of the disaster. I could feel their desperation when they began to realize the futility of their efforts. This was a very effective way to disclose the enormity of this crime.

It was so effective that I could not connect to any if the more trivial concerns of the characters. The love story seemed unlikely. The tragic coincidences and devastating secrets added drama to an overdramatic situation. The modern story just annoyed me as it interrupted the wartime narrative.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It did hold my interest and I learned more about the extent of the Armenian genocide. Unfortunately, I thought the storytelling was choppy. The two plot lines never came together coherently for me. I suspect that my impression of this book suffered because I’d recently read The Garden of Evening Mists. Both books deal with similar themes and situations. Tan Twan Eng did a far better job with multiple time lines and the themes of war and survival.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Profoundly moving book about family history and the Armenian genocide of 1915. I can't quit thinking about it. The book taught me things I didn't know, took me places I haven't been, and just felt very personal. I have a new author to add to my list (he isn't new, I just haven't read his books). There is one image that the author uses over and over to express the anguish of a little girl's soul that deeply moved me, and -from a literary sense- it was just perfect in its devastating simplicity. Also liked his note at the end, and the author interview (I listened to the book). It sealed the deal on him for me when he mentioned that he was highly anticipating Toni Morrison's book Home that was published after his interview. I love the true melting pot vastness of American writers. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Read this for my local library fiction book group and I love books that share history. Although this is a work of fiction, it is based on a little known history of the Armenian genocide that took place in Aleppo Syria in 1915. The novel covers this history and present day of a woman trying to decipher the story of her grandparents and her journey to find the truth.

I enjoyed the story and look to learn more about the history of the story. The author did not disappoint! ( )
1 vote yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
Although basically a love story, this book is richly seeped in historical fact exposing the atrocities that the Armenians had to endure at the hands of the Turks. While there are hundreds of books about the Jewish Holocaust, this is the first book I've read about the Armenian genocide of 1915. At times this book is extremely violent and brutal, it is also a poignant, compelling story about a period in time that is not widely known. ( )
1 vote HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
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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)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"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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