I sent a preview email to book members with these thoughts:
If you haven't been able to access the book, please consider coming anyway, since we will mostly likely talk about general knowledge of genocides (the theme of Sandcastle Girls is Armenian genocide) or other works by Bohjalian. This story is also about trauma, allies, survivors, the role of religion, the role of aid workers, and how folks keep their culture alive.
SYNOPSIS from The Sandcastle Girls
A spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012.
Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, with her 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.
From the book group questions packet, we considered these questions from ReadingGroupGuides.com
ABOUT THE STYLE
ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
ABOUT CULTURE/HISTORY – We didn’t get to discuss these questions