Sunday 30 November 2014

Anyush by Martine Madden

It is 1915 and the magnificence of the Ottoman Empire is fading. The country has barely recovered from the disastrous Balkan war when it is plunged into the Great War on the side of the Germans. In a small village in Trebizond state, the Armenian community is removed from world events. A young Armenian village girl, Anyush Charcoudian, has been educated by an American missionary doctor, Charles Stewart and his wife, and works as an assistant nurse at the mission hospital. Through the Stewarts’ influence she begins to understand there is a wider world beyond Trebizond. Her life changes when a company of soldiers come to the area. The handsome Turkish Captain Jahan Orfalea falls in love with Anyush, and they begin a secret affair, crossing religious and cultural divides.

As the war moves on, events in Constantinople take a brutal turn. On April 24th all educated Armenian males in the city are shot. The subsequent deportation of Armenians from towns and villages across the Ottoman Empire extends its reach to the small Trebizond village. Charles Stewart’s friend and old Empire hand, Dr Paul Trowbridge, tries to alert Charles to the growing atrocities, but the doctor dismisses his concerns as warmongering gossip.

Charles Stewart realises when it's too late what has been happening. He tries to intervene on the villagers’ behalf, and risks everything he has worked for in the last fifteen years. But events are moving beyond his control. The evacuation of the Armenians from Trebizond has started.

I don't want to really give too much of this story away but this is a beautiful and heart breaking story told with great passion & feeling, based on factual events during the First World War and the terrible events that affect the Armenian people.  Martine Madden has written a tense but beautiful and gripping story, which has been well-researched and developed, as the author lived in UAE and returned to Ireland in 1990.  If you've read Khaled Houssini's A Thousand Splendid Suns or The Kite Runner then this book is definitely for you, I'd highly recommend it.  I found I had tears in my eyes at the end along with shedding a few along the way, so grab this book, curl up on the couch and prepare to have a few lump in your throat moments too.  I know that this book would stay with me long after I'd turned the last page, you have to read it to appreciate this beautiful story.

This book is available on Kindle & from all good bookstores.

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