I finished book number 86, The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. This novel is set in both modern day America and 1915 Syria as an American woman does research into her Armenian grandfather and his American wife. She is doing her research in Boston and Watertown, MA where the letters and journals of her American grandmother are kept, as well as German photos that document the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks in 1915.
The rest of the book concerns her grandmother, Elizabeth, who with her father, Silas, travel to Syria on behave of the Friends of Armenia to help the refugees from Armenia who have escaped to Syria from the slaughter of the Turks of the Armenian people. Here Elizabeth meets Armen, an Armenian engineer, whose wife and child have been killed by the Turks. He is going to Egypt to enlist with the British in the war against the Turks (this is World War I) and they fall in love. Elizabeth and her father helped in the hospital in Syria and in the orphanage in Aleppo. They say at the American consulate and “adopt” a woman named Nevert and a child named Hartoun who stay with them at the consulate. Silas returns to American eventually but Elizabeth is determined to wait until Armen returns to Aleppo to her.
This is a moving story of the terrible genocide that occurred by the Turks of the Armenians in 1915, the slaughter of 1.5 million people that no one knows about. Our own Congress voted not to recognize this atrocity as genocide and teach about it in schools. It is a novel based on facts that will horrify those who have never heard of this terrible atrocity. Eighty-six down, 39 to go.