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The Sandcastle Girls > Discussion Questions

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message 1: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
I'm nearly halfway through the book, and already I have loads of thoughts. Firstly, there really is a Friends of Armenia Society in Boston. There really were photos taken by a German soldier that were smuggled out of Syria. There was and continues to be a huge debate over legitimizing what happened in Armenia as a "genocide."

There is a miniseries called "Anzac Girls" about nurses in Egypt during the whole Gallipoli campaign during WWI. If you are interested in watching it, you can do so at

Still working on the book, and though it is a very sad subject matter, it is very well written. Honestly, it's no more difficult than reading about the Holocaust, and we've all read plenty of books set in that era. If you are feeling squeamish, I would recommend that you at least give it a try.

message 2: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
We had a family in our church in St. Louis that were Armenian. Being the detective/snoop that I am, I looked them up on The man we knew, Edward Korkoian, lost his grandfather and uncle in the 1915 genocide. This already personalizes this book for me. I remember being in the car when my parents drove his elderly mother home from some activity. She was tiny. Now I know that she immigrated to the US in 1909 at the age of 23 without her parents. Her father and brother were killed in 1915, and in 1921 her mother and two surviving sisters joined her in America.

As distant as these events might seem when you read a book jacket, it's still recent enough that the "degrees of separation" are few in number in many cases. The woman that seemed like just some little old lady my parents gave a ride to, is now very brave and heroic in my eyes.

message 3: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
Okay, some corrections to the above post. The lady we drove home was actually Ed Korkoian's cousin, not mother. Her name was Vartuhe Berberian. She was born in 1911, and we know she was in Aleppo, Syria in 1924 from a newsletter article about an LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints--Mormon) church meeting there. I was amazed that there was an LDS presence in Syria then (no idea if there still is). At some point she moved to Salt Lake City, and then on to St. Louis. She was not an easy person to feel affection for, according to those that knew her. But it's an interesting footnote to the story, since it takes place in Aleppo.

message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
As an added "bonus", here is a commercial about the Christmas Eve ceasefire in 1914. For those of you reading "Regeneration" or fans of Downton Abbey, you might find this particularly poignant.

message 5: by Sally (new)

Sally (sallyjosto) | 5 comments Thank you, Diane, for always posting things here! The personal connections you have add so much to the reality of what the stories tell. I don't get to the group stories very often, but when I do I always enjoy everyone's comments! Thanks!

message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
I'm glad you read them, Sally! Sometimes I wonder if I'm just talking to myself! Thanks so much for the book suggestion. The subject matter would have made me put it back on the shelf instead of reading it, and I'm glad I learned something new.

message 7: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments Well, I tried and tried and have finally decided I'm going to let this one go. I LOVED what I read from the perspective of writing and style. But having basically grown up with WWII books as 'coffee table books', I can't let go of the pictures in my mind this book is evoking, both from 45 years ago (from our coffee table) and from reading this now. Some how I knew of the Armenian genocide, so I guess, for me, whilst the detail is new, the awful story is not.

It was a great choice, and I wish I had the stomach for it, but I just can't do it. Just when I think it will get better, some else vile happens.

I'm looking forward to another brilliant choice by you all, I am enjoying this book group loads. And, Diane, I have to agree with Sally, I LOVE your comments and hearing the connections! Thanks for it all!!!

message 8: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
Sorry you didn't like it! I think because I knew Armenians growing up, it pushed me to finish it. Made it a bit more personal. Hard to believe what their families endured, and how we never even hear about it anymore.

message 9: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments My brother in law is Armenian, and I think his mother mentioned something once, but in fact I think I read something, like a NYT magazine spread about 20 years ago. Like I said, the details are different, but the result is depressingly the same - brutality and lack of humanity on an epic scale. It's not that I didn't like it - I appreciate it, and honestly, I found the writing excellent - I just couldn't stomach it. Or maybe the correct word is didn't want to. And I find that depressing too as I WANT to read this stuff, I WANT to know more, but I just can't do it. Hope you find another such brilliant book!!! I'll keep on until I do it!

message 10: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments I'm wondering if there is a space for something traditional like Agatha Christie in this group? Just once, maybe? I see from Emily's update that she added one. I've never read them (I know, how odd!). Would anyone be interested in something like that or have you all read them already? Just a vague thought....

message 11: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
Fine with me! I've read Cassandra Chan's books and really liked them. I've been watching all the old Poirot episodes on Netflix, so no arguments here!

message 12: by Emily (new)

Emily | 39 comments I am always up for reading Agatha Christie!!

message 13: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments Yippee. I don't know any of the Agatha Christie's at all, so any one you pick woould be perfect. I did read one Cassandra Chan, but I think when I went o get the next one, I coldn't find it or it wasn't available on Kindle or something. But I'm good for that too - please just direct me!!! (Imagine a blind person needing to be led!)

message 14: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
Doing a tiny bit of research (emphasis on tiny), it seems that "And Then There Were None" is the best of all of her books. Used to be called "Ten Little Indians". Do you want to go for the pinnacle first, or start out less well written so you're not disappointed with other books?

message 15: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments That sounds perfect for me. But has everyone else already read it (have you?)? I seem to think maybe Emily has read a lot of her books, so would this be annoying to her? Anyone else?!

message 16: by Emily (new)

Emily | 39 comments Um, no. Not annoying at all! I will gladly ready And Then There Were None again. I think I remember the ending, but then again I thought I remembered the who-done-it part in A Murder Is Announced, and I was wrong.

Have you seen any Agatha Christie movies that you liked? Those could be a fun read, too. Murder on the Orient Express comes to mind for me.

message 17: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
Death on the Nile is good, both the Mia Farrow and Emily Blunt versions. I've been watching a lot of Poirot, but I'm not familiar with the Miss Marple stories.

message 18: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
I'll tell you what, I love the digital age! Already downloaded it onto my Kindle free from my library. I'm already 22% through "The Circular Staircase" that Emily recommended, too.

message 19: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments OK, I'll download it now and I can start it on the train this morning. Yippee!!! I'm SURE I can get through this one without nightmares!! Thank you!!!!!

message 20: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments LOVED IT!!! Let me know when I'm allowed to comment for real!

message 21: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianders1) | 136 comments Mod
I opened a new thread to discuss it. I'm a little over halfway done, so I can talk about it in another day or so!

message 22: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 80 comments Fab, I won't write until you say you're done. Thanks for the new thread thingamy!!!

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