The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Elizabeth Endicott accompanies her father to Aleppo, Syria. They have
volunteered on behalf of the Friends of Armenia to deliver food and
medical aid to Armenian refugees. The year is 1915 and Turkey is
systematically killing all the Armenians. Elizabeth has only basic
nursing skills and knows little of the language.
becomes friendly with Armen, an Armenian engineer protected by the
Germans. Armen has lost his wife and infant daughter to the genocide.
This is WWI and once the Germans leave for the front Armen has to leave
to save his own life. He ends up in Egypt and goes to Gallipoli to
fight for the British. He and Elizabeth start a correspondence and so
begins a romance.
As a parallel story, Laura Petrosian is a novelist who wants to know more about her Armenian heritage.
A lot of historical fictions use parallel story lines but in this case
it just didn't work well. I think it would have been better to write
just the truly remarkable story about the Armenian genocide. Elizabeth
is quite 'forward' for her times and is quite the strong woman. She
does help the refugees even to the point of rescuing some.
While I did not know about the genocide I did know about the horrors of Gallipoli. A lot of horrific things happened.
A great read!
First Line: "When my twin brother and I were small children, we would take turns sitting on our grandfather's lap."