“The Sandcastle Girls” is the first book I have read by author Christ Bohjalian. This book stunned me in such a way that I can’t get it out of my head. One striking point to make about this book is that it is not a happy story to read. I am glad that I listened to this book as an audible instead of reading it myself. The different readers help separate the past from the present and the change in voice helped me get through the terrible details. I cried quite a bit while listening and would have to stop the audio and walk away to compose myself. The Armenian genocide of 1915 is a part of history that I knew nothing about. This fact shamed me as I love history and thought that I knew a great deal about the historical world that surrounded World War One. This genocide was never in anything I have read. I actually stopped the audio at one point and went on-line to do a little research and study some historical maps of the areas the book describes. What I found absolutely horrified me and broke my heart to read about – once again – humans treating other humans as if they were nothing.
The characters in “The Sandcastle Girls” were so well developed for the reader that one seems to actually know them. The modern story of a woman seeking and finding out about her grandparents past was alive with childhood memories that made me smile. The story of Laura’s grandmother, Elizabeth, broke my heart but also filled me with admiration for her courage and selflessness in a world so foreign to what she was accustomed.
I am giving “The Sandcastle Girls” five stars because I believe that the writing was “beyond” excellent along with the research to be historically accurate. The character creation was just about perfect. I recommend that people read this fictionalized version to open their minds to a real part of history that they may have missed while learning in school. Also, for those us audio books, the production of this book was the best I have listened to thus far. I am going to pick up some other books written by Chris Bohjalian because I am a now a fan of this excellent author.
Bohjalian's vivid descriptions are timeless and the reader learns about the outrageous horrors of 1915 through the relatable dialogues of his compelling characters. It is challenging to learn about the inhumane personal accounts of Armenians. This book was fast moving and oral telling was great.
I have learned so much fascinating history through my 500+ audiobooks! One book leads me to another and then ties in with something I listened to 40 books a Good! Soon I'll be able to pass high school history at age 60!
I am just getting to Know Bohjalian as an author. I am not overly enthused with this book or Midwives that I read previously but not willing to give up further books by him. As an Armenian my family is always on the lookout for stories of our heritage. The Armenian genocide has been kept silent, as noted in this story. So maybe one has to be Armenian to connect to this tale. My grandparents were already in this country when the events of this book occurred. But they left knowing it was coming. Other family members and certainly friends did not escape as they had.
The characters develop well. The premise of a "crash course" in nursing doesn't ring true (especially as I teach nursing) for today, but it may have in 1915. But that is not an essential part of the story. The essential part is the love story. Two people meet and have an instant attraction. They are separated, struggle to get back together, and have horrific experiences during that time. In modern times, the granddaughter struggles to find the truth. And what a truth she discovers. Altogether, it is a beautiful story.
Did I stay up all night to finish it? No. Is this book one of my absolute overall favorites? No. Is it a worthwhile purchase? Yes. The story is important to be told. The narration was well done. The mini-stories of the minor characters definitely add to it all.
I love Historical fiction and this book covers a horrific little known story. Breaking the book between current time and historical time makes the book easier to read.
The story line of the Historical events of 1915
No, but I thought her performance was excellent.
The history lesson was great. I love books that, after I finish, have me researching more about the topic. With The Sandcastle Girls I walked away feeling like I had learned something new.
There were parts where I was a little lost as to who was who, exactly. There were some characters who had potential, but were never fully developed and others that were developed more than they needed to be.
I purchased this book since I enjoyed "Midwives" so much, but I don't think this one had the same punch. I felt like nothing ever "new" really happened. The story was told, but the fictional characters weren't overly interesting. The ending was anti-climatic.
Wow! I winced through a part of this story which describes a brutal killing on a train but it just doesn't compare to the overall story of the Armenian Genocide, largely unknown to me. This historical fiction novel is well done and enlightens the reader about the Ottoman Empire's murder of more than 1.5 million Armenians by forcing them to march into the Syrian desert without food and water.
The story is told in two time settings:
A love story unfolds between Elizabeth an American who goes to Syria to provide medical attention to the Armenians. She meets Armen, an Armenian engineer who has lost his wife and child.
The current day Laura, a novelist who comes upon her grandparents letters and diaries in an Armenian History Museum in MA and begins to research the story of her family.
This is a fascinating story about a genocide that I had never heard of - the Armenians by the Turks during World War I - as seen through the eyes of 2 generations of women in a single family. The first is a young woman from Boston who accompanies her father to Aleppo, Syria, to deliver food and medical aid to the victims of the Armenian genocide and the second is her granddaughter who is just discovering the story as she reaches middle age. There are two narrators for each woman's voice which really adds to the sense of intimacy to how the two women react. As is typical with good historical fiction you learn a lot about history while engrossed in the lives of the characters.
I had never heard of the Armenian genocide and it made me wonder about other genocides that I have never heard of.
Viewing this story from two different perspectives, that of the one living through the experience and that of the grandchild learning something new about her grandparents really fleshes out the impact of the horror of the genocide.
Laura Petrosian, a novelist, begins to research her Armenian heritage and the story takes her back to 1915 when her grandmother, Elizabeth Endicott, traveled with a group of nurses from Boston, Mass. to provide aid to the refugees of Armenian genocide. Amid the horrors of the treatment and deaths of the Armenian women she falls in love with Arman, an engineer who travels to Egypt to join the British army. Amidst the chaos their love is kept alive through letters.
The rapes and starvation of the women are hard to read about and may be depressing for some. I wanted to love this novel like I loved Skeletons at the Feast , my favorite of Bohjalian's novels. I did like it but something was missing. It just did not come together like I think it should have. The story was simple and there was not much plot since it was obvious to me from the start how the story would turn out. Also the transitions from past to present were awkward. I think it would have been a better novel if it had been told totally in the past… but that's just me. The only other novel that I have read about the Armenian genocide was The Gendarme . I enjoyed it more because it was shocking and the story, as horrible as it was, was smoothly written and very believable.
Realistic Historical Fiction
When Armen's first wife saw him with Elizabeth.
Their narration caught me up in the story.
Description of the horrific treatment of the Syrian women.
After reading this novel I was so enthusiastic, my book group chose it for our November book discussion.