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4 reviews

The Sandcastle Girls: A Novel
by Chris Bohjalian

Published: 2012-07-17
Kindle Edition : 0 pages
9 members reading this now
8 clubs reading this now
2 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 4 members
Over the course of his career, New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on a spectacular array of journeys. Midwives brought us to an isolated Vermont farmhouse on an icy winter’s night and a home birth gone tragically wrong. The Double Bind perfectly ...
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Introduction

Over the course of his career, New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on a spectacular array of journeys. Midwives brought us to an isolated Vermont farmhouse on an icy winter’s night and a home birth gone tragically wrong. The Double Bind perfectly conjured the Roaring Twenties on Long Island—and a young social worker’s descent into madness. And Skeletons at the Feast chronicled the last six months of World War Two in Poland and Germany with nail-biting authenticity. As The Washington Post Book World has noted, Bohjalian writes “the sorts of books people stay awake all night to finish.”
In his fifteenth book, The Sandcastle Girls, he brings us on a very different kind of journey. This spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012—a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The First World War is spreading across Europe, and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to 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 to join the British Army in Egypt, 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.Flash forward to the present, 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.

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Using maps helps with the educational aspect.
by rickimcm (see profile) 04/19/13

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Print maps for members, outline history of region
by marthalawlor (see profile) 04/19/13
Try to find maps that show the Ottoman Empire around 1915, and a modern map to figure out where things happened. It might also be helpful to have a brief history of the region, including the religions favored by the various groups that controlled it.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Sandcastle Girls, Chris Bohjalian"by thewanderingjew (see profile) 05/01/13

Although, at first, the book might appear to be a love story between an Armenian engineer, Armen, and an American woman, Elizabeth Endicott, of French and Armenian heritage, it is much more ... (read more)

 
  "Who Knew?"by marthalawlor (see profile) 04/19/13

The Armenian genocide is not widely known of in the USA. I'd heard references on occasion, but didn't know if it was a real thing or not. Now I know. It was real. This book forced me to go to maps... (read more)

 
  "The Sandcastle Girls"by rickimcm (see profile) 04/19/13

An interesting read that is a bit confusing in the beginning until you sort out the characters. The club found the book enlightening into 'the genocide that no one knows about".

 
  "Powerful love story set during the Armenian genocide"by vnesting (see profile) 08/07/12

I loved this book but it was very hard to read sometimes because the author did such an effective job of conveying what was happening to the Armenian people at that time.

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