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Extended Audio Sample The Sandcastle Girls: A Novel Audiobook, by Chris Bohjalian Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.9997447025785 out of 52.9997447025785 out of 52.9997447025785 out of 52.9997447025785 out of 52.9997447025785 out of 5 3.00 (7,834 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chris Bohjalian Narrator: Cassandra Campbell, Alison Fraser Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2012 ISBN: 9780307917386
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When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria in 1915, 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 2012, 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “A beautiful, frightening, and unforgettable read.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An unforgettable exposition of the still too-little-known facts of the Armenian genocide and its multigenerational consequences.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

  • “[Bohjalian’s] characters are as real as our own relatives. The well-researched history that forms the background informs, intrigues, and enchants—even as recollections of horror mount.”

    Florida Times-Union

  • “A tender love story.”

    The Plain Dealer

  • “Remarkably supple…Bohjalian keeps his eyes on the personal, the little moments that illuminate broader social movements…Moment by moment, and passage by passage, the novel lights up a disturbing period of history.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “A deeply moving story of survival and enduring love.”

    USA Today 

  • “Bohjalian deftly weaves the many threads of this story back and forth, from past to present, from abuse to humanity, from devastation to redemption…Utterly riveting.”

    Washington Post

  • “Chris Bohjalian is at his very finest in this searing story of love and war. I was mesmerized from page one. Bravo!”

    Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

  • “Bohjalian—the grandson of Armenian survivors—pours passion, pride, and sadness into his tale of ethnic destruction and endurance.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Dead-solid perfect. Bohjalian is a literary novelist unafraid to reference Proust’s madeleine and expect readers to get it. But his books are also filled with artfully drawn characters and great, passionate storytelling. The Sandcastle Girls is all that, but different, more powerful.”

    Seattle Times

  • “In his latest novel, master storyteller Chris Bohjalian explores the ways in which our ancestral past informs our contemporary lives—in ways we understand and ways that remain mysteriously out of reach. The Sandcastle Girls is deft, layered, eye-opening, and riveting. I was deeply moved.”

    Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed

  • “A searing, tightly woven tale of war and the legacy it leaves behind…A nuanced, sophisticated portrayal of what it means not only to endure, but to insist on hope.”

    Oprah.com

  • “It takes a talented novelist to combine fully ripened characters, an engrossing storyline, exquisite prose and set it against a horrific historical backdrop—in this case, the Armenian Genocide—and completely enchant readers. The prolific and captivating Chris Bohjalian has done it all with The Sandcastle Girls.”

    Associated Press

  • “The scope of The Sandcastle Girls is almost epic…While there are the rich personal stories that his readers connect to, what he has achieved is much larger. Bohjalian has written a compelling and powerful novel that will bring the history of the genocide to a wide audience. The Sandcastle Girls will remain ingrained in your consciousness.”

    Armenian Weekly 

  •  “A great read…Affecting.”

    People 

  • “This book is a masterfully written story of war and love and is especially meaningful as we approach the centennial observance of the 1915 Armenian genocide.”

    Louisville Courier-Journal

  • “A compelling new novel that is part love story, part history lesson…An eye-opening tale of longing and discovery…A bittersweet reflection on hope even in the darkest circumstances…[The Sandcastle Girls] is about the ways the past informs the present, about the pain but also the richness of heritage.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Bohjalian succeeds in depicting the horror, without sentimentalizing it…He has fulfilled the duty of anyone seeking to document a genocide—he ensures that we don’t look away.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Touching and believable, adding a softer dimension to what is at times a brutal story.”

    Vancouver Sun

  • “Bohjalian powerfully narrates an intricately nuanced romance with a complicated historical event at the forefront. With the centennial of the Armenian genocide fast approaching, this is not to be missed. Simply astounding.”

    Library Journal (starred review) 

  • “So poignant…Passion comes through clearly in The Sandcastle Girls, with Bohjalian’s carefully chosen words, his flesh and blood characters, and his vivid descriptions…It is a story of death and the triumph of life and quite possibly the best thing Bohjalian has written.”

    Salisbury Post

  • “I was completely mesmerized by The Sandcastle Girls. Bohjalian pulls his readers into this fictional yet historical setting by educating, entertaining and enthralling them with beautifully written prose…Truly enchanting.”

    Times Record News

  • “So filled is it with the suspense of life and death that The Sandcastle Girls is difficult to categorize. The story is fiction, but it is true. It’s history, but it’s also art.”

    The Weekly Standard

  • “A moving multi-generational saga…A sober, elegiac, and touching novel.”

    Bookreporter.com

  • “Bohjalian powerfully narrates an intricately nuanced romance with a complicated historical event at the forefront. With the centennial of the Armenian genocide fast approaching, this is not to be missed. Simply astounding. Julie Kane, Library Journal (starred)
  • An unforgettable exposition of the still too-little-known facts of the Armenian genocide and its multigenerational consequences.  Kirkus Reviews (starred)
  • A powerful and moving story based on real events seldom discussed. It will leave you reeling.  Elizabeth Dickie, Booklist
  • Telescopic . . . Because of Bohjalian’s writing style, which never rings a false note as it moves from present-day New York to the tragedy of World War I, his characters are as real as our own relatives. The well-researched history that forms the background informs, intrigues and enchants—even as recollections of horror mount . . . [A] story of love, world history and the human condition. Brandy Hilboldt Allport, The Florida Times-Union
  • A compelling new novel that is part love story, part history lesson . . . An eye-opening tale of longing and discovery [and] bittersweet reflection on hope even in the darkest circumstances. . . . Bohjalian’s book is about the ways the past informs the present, about the pain but also the richness of heritage. . . . Remarkable. Amy Driscoll, The Miami Herald
  • Bohjalian deftly weaves the many threads of this story back and forth from past to present, from abuse to humanity, from devastation to redemption. His ability to add irony and wit makes the contrasting horrors even more intense. . . . Staggering [and] utterly riveting . . . [A] valuable and powerful piece of evidence pointing to the undeniable. Eugenia Zukerman, The Washington Post
     
  • A sweeping love story . . . Toggling between two eras, Bohjalian paints a vivid portrayal of love and pain and the strength to survive each. At once heartbreaking and hopeful, The Sandcastle Girls is a mesmerizing work of historical fiction influenced by the author’s heritage and driven by a romance so beautiful and believable it hurts. Nicholas Addison Thomas, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
  • Bohjalian is a literary novelist unafraid to reference Proust's madeleine and expect readers to get it. But his books are also filled with artfully drawn characters and great, passionate storytelling. The Sandcastle Girls is all that, but different, more powerful. . . . Handled with such skill that it seems perfect. Curt Schleier, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  • A searing, tautly woven tale of war and the legacy it leaves behind. . . . A nuanced, sophisticated portrayal of what it means not only to endure, but to insist on hope. Nathalie Gorman, Oprah.com  
  • Remarkably supple . . . Moment by moment, and passage by passage, the novel lights up a disturbing period of history. Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
  • “A romance so beautiful and believable it hurts.”

    Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg)

  • Masterful . . . a near-perfect work of historical fiction. . . . The contemporary and historical sections each have a different flavor, but both are well written and engaging with interesting, three-dimensional characters. . . . Enlightening. Book Browse
  • Compelling . . . Deftly mixing fact and fiction . . . Bohjalian weaves the story like threads in a rug, each thread adding color and shadow to a scene. . . . [S]o filled is it with the suspense of life and death that The Sandcastle Girls is difficult to categorize. The story is fiction, but is true. It's history, but it's also art. Diane Scharper, The Weekly Standard
  • It takes a talented novelist to combine fully ripened characters, an engrossing storyline, exquisite prose and set it against a horrific historical backdrop—in this case, the Armenian Genocide—and completely enchant readers. The prolific and captivating Chris Bohjalian has done it all—again—with The Sandcastle Girls. . . . Seamless . . . A fascinating journey through time and history. Kim Curtis, The Associated Press
     
  • Sober, elegiac, and respectful. . . . A fiction like Bohjalian's [has the] power to reach legions of readers. Margot Harrison, Seven Days
  • Stirring . . . The Sandcastle Girls wraps the threads of a significant historic event around a deeply moving story of survival and enduring love. Carol Memmott, USA Today
  • Cool and lucid . . . With Armen and Elizabeth, Bohjalian has fulfilled the duty of anyone seeking to document a genocide—he ensures that we don’t look away. Julie Wittes Schlack, The Boston Globe
  • Dead-solid perfect. Bohjalian is a literary novelist unafraid to reference Proust's madeleine and expect readers to get it. But his books are also filled with artfully drawn characters and great, passionate storytelling. The Sandcastle Girls is all that, but different, more powerful. Curt Schleier, The Seattle Times
  • Bohjalian—the grandson of Armenian survivors—pours passion, pride, and sadness into his tale of ethnic destruction and endurance. Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
  • [A] great read . . . An affecting tale set at the time of a lesser-known holocaust, 1915’s Armenian genocide. People
  • Chris Bohjalian is at his very finest in this searing story of love and war. I was mesmerized from page one. Bravo! Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
  • In his latest novel, master storyteller Chris Bohjalian explores the ways in which our ancestral past informs our contemporary lives—in ways we understand and ways that remain mysteriously out of reach. The Sandcastle Girls is deft, layered, eye-opening, and riveting. I was deeply moved. Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed 
  • Bohjalian's powerful novel . . . depicts the Armenian genocide and one contemporary novelist's quest to uncover her heritage. . . . His storytelling makes this a beautiful, frightening, and unforgettable read. Publishers Weekly
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A 2012 Library Journal Book of the Year
  • Selected for the August 2012 Indie Next List
  • A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, July 2012
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction
  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dianne Gowder | 2/19/2014

    " Difficult subject matter and quite shocking for those that don't know the details of the Armenian holocaust. Well worth reading "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marnie | 2/8/2014

    " I stopped reading the book at chapter 5 because the author used the "f" word. Until that point, the book was very interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 2/7/2014

    " Wow! The author did a great job of weaving stories, keeping me interested in every story line, and putting together a great work of fiction with historical perspective. Bravo! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sona Aslanian | 2/4/2014

    " An accurate account of the Turkish genocide of the Armenian's.i. A must read for everyone. Wonderfully written. Poignant "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi | 2/3/2014

    " I have never read the author before and really enjoyed this book. I will need to go and search out some of his other titles. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elaine Morse | 1/22/2014

    " I wanted to love this book and this is a great author but I didn't love it. The story gives the reader a good insight into the genocide and the atrocities but I didn't feel emotionally connected to the story. I felt I was ready non-fiction at times although I like the Armenian girl and her adoptive mother best "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth Tirapelli | 1/20/2014

    " The Sandcastle Girls- Bohjalian uses some of his own family history to help in influencing the movement of the story and dives into a tale of the Armenian genocide that occured in 1916-1917 . All is told against the background of a love story. This was a fantastic story! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lee Ann | 1/20/2014

    " What a powerful and well written story about another profound historic time. The characters were real and the naration made you believe that everything in the story was real. It was based on actual events and times, but fiction nonetheless. It made me want to explore this time more and I found myself going to the map several times to find places talked about. This is a must read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marie | 1/20/2014

    " I did not know anything about the Armenian genocide and had to look up Armenia on a map. I liked the way the narratives was from several viewpoints, past and present. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 1/19/2014

    " This book was loosely based on the author's grandfather and is about the genocide in Armenia in 1915. I really liked it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristin | 1/7/2014

    " This is a book everyone should read to learn about this horrific time in history. This lead me to googling pictures and asking my friends if they had ever even heard of this genocide. It is not a feel good book, but very emotional. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara Smith | 1/2/2014

    " Heart-wrenching story that pulls you in to the horrors of genocide. Not a walk on the beach as you might think from the cover. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susie Stieren | 12/15/2013

    " I enjoy books that take me to my computer to google a time, place, or historic event. In this case, Sandcastle Girls had me searching for information about the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The story was captivating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pamela House | 11/29/2013

    " Highly recommend this novel -- a window on the horror of the Armenian genocide. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 9/28/2013

    " Although the subject was depressing, I got so involved in this book and could not put it down. Even though the story jumped from timeframe to timeframe, the storyline moved nicely. I would definitely recommend this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jeani | 8/11/2013

    " I am normally a fan of Bohjalian, but I found this confusing and boring. Bummer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Starr | 7/8/2013

    " It was a slow start but an interesting story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 4/24/2013

    " Absolutely loved this book. Loves the switch between the present and the past. Well written. Such a tragic topic but incredible story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 April | 4/18/2013

    " Mr. B is one of my top fave authors. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anne-marie | 1/31/2013

    " Great book, but a tough read only for the subject matter. Lots of great history. I could have done without the modern day aspect to the story, I don't feel like it added much to the story itself, and I found myself skimming over some of these parts. Overall though, 5 stars. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie | 12/1/2012

    " Excellent story about the WWI genocide in Syria/Turkey. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 11/7/2012

    " Historical fiction like Skeletons at the Feast. Absolutely one of my favorites "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Greggmccormac | 9/12/2012

    " I really enjoyed this book. I wanted it to be non fiction instead if historical fiction! I wanted the person telling the story to be real! I know sounds crazy. But I learned so much from this book. It will stick with me a long time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 7/22/2012

    " I've had this book on my shelf for months. I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it. A woman tells her grandparent's story of surviving the Armenian genocide of the early 1900s. Such a good story and such a sad and beautiful ending. I definitely want to read more of Bohjalian's books now. "

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About the Author
Author Chris BohjalianChris Bohjalian is the critically acclaimed author of ten novels, including Midwives (a Publishers Weekly Best Book and an Oprah’s Book Club selection) and his most recent New York Times bestseller, Before You Know Kindness. His work has been translated into eighteen languages and published in twenty-one countries. He lives with his wife and daughter in Vermont.
About the Narrator

Cassandra Campbell, Audie Award–nominated narrator and winner of several Earphones Awards, has performed in regional theaters across the country and in several off-Broadway shows at the Public Theater and the Mint Theater. In addition to narrating audiobooks, acting, and directing, she is a commercial and documentary voice-over artist.