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The Sandcastle Girls

The Sandcastle Girls - Chris Bohjalian The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian is a powerful and unforgettable historical novel depicting the Armenian Genocide. It is an epic story of love and war that will leave you pondering on the facts long after you have finished this novel.

This Novel is set in two timeframes. The past 1915 to 1916 and the present.

The book takes us back to a time when the First World War and the Armenian genocide of 1915-16 . Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria along with her father, they have volunteered on behalf of the Boston based friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees from the Armenian Genocide. Elizabeth has only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language and a crash course in nursing but she is equipped with a will and determination to help in any way she can. Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen an Armenian man who has just lost his wife and child . Armen joins the British Army in Egypt and he and Elizabeth corresponds in the form of letters and their friendship develops.

When we move to the present in the novel we meet Laura Petrosian who is a novelist and is researching her family history and learns of the love and the secrets buried for years.

I first came across this novel in a newspaper review and knew immediately this was my kind of book and ordered it. I was ignorant to the atrocities that took place in during the Armenian Genocide but after reading the account here I was saddened to realise that I had not been made aware of this through history classes at school or in previous books. But thanks to Mr Bohjalian I have learned so much from this book. This is one of those historical novels that while you are reading you are also back and forth to your computer to check on places and details described in the story.

This is one of those novels not for the faint hearted and while there is a love story running alongside the horrors of Genocide, it’s the horrors of what happens to the Armenian people that will make you shudder and weep.

I found this a powerful, insightful, touching and unforgettable novel and the only reason I did not give it five stars was the fact that the novel jumps back and forth between time frames way too much and I found this very distracting especially in the first half of the novel.
I wish the author had included a map of the regions he wrote about as I think it would have been so helpful.
Overall a 4 star read for me and a book I will be recommending for a long time to come.