Saturday, August 14, 2010

104 - The Gendarme; Mark Mustian



















The haunting cover art, portraying a lovely young girl with two different colored eyes, is what first attracted me to this debut novel, The Gendarme. Trust me, once you finish this story it will stay with you for days to come.

In 1990, Emmett Conn is a 92 year old Turkish-American man, who is recovering from surgery for a brain tumor.  In Georgia, to his family and friends he seems confused or senile. However, what has happened to Emmett is that after his surgery he is experiencing vivid dreams of World War I events he had previously or purposely forgotten. Memories that were lost, perhaps due to a war injury, have now returned some 70 years later.

The novel goes back and forth in time to when Emmett was a Turkish Gendarme who brought Armenians from Turkey in a death march to Syria.
"The original two thousand deportees have dwindled now to three hundred, many of these suffering from dysentery. A number of the guards are gone, too, leaving only three gendarmes, including myself to prod our group on its way. Our progress has been slower than before, maybe six or seven miles per day. At this pace it will take four or five days to reach our destination. Food is scarce, water even scarcer. The dead and dying increase daily. At the current rate of loss, only fifty or so of the deportees might actually make it to Aleppo."

Araxie is a lovely Armenian girl that Emmett becomes obsessed with and tries to protect. In his dreams he is reunited with his captive who he thought of as the love of his life. He is desperate to find her, and to beg her forgiveness for his sins of the past.

MY THOUGHTS - Even though this story is a work of fiction, I feel like I was given a painful lesson in history. Sadly, Armenian Genocide is a subject that I knew nothing about. The story is sad and haunting and tough to read in parts, but it is so well done that most readers will find themselves effortless and eagerly finishing the novel quicker than anticipated. It is clearly a story that demonstrates the evil that good people are capable of. The ending is not what I anticipated, but in some ways that was a good thing. I think this story would make an excellent movie.
RECOMMENDED - 4.5/5 stars
 (review copy)

22 comments:

  1. I'm dying to read this. My book club is reading it for October, though, so I'm waiting a little while so it will be more fresh in my mind. I'm so glad to see you loved it.

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  2. This is one on the list of course -- I've had my eye on this for a bit, and I'm so excited to read that you really enjoyed this!

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  3. I too am dying to read this. I initially fell in love with the cover. I love the storyline too.

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  4. Your work has been plagiarised:

    http://abooksblog.com/2010/08/14/104-the-gendarme-mark-mustian/

    Just thought you should know.

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  5. This sounds terrific! I've been hearing great buzz about this one and it sounds like it stands up to the buzz.

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  6. I hope to read Gendarme soon. Thanks for your recommendation and thoughts. I hope you feel perkier soon. It's no fun not having energy. ((hugs))

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  7. Yes, that cover is very interesting but it sounds like you did good judging a book by its cover!

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  8. I've been dying to read this as well. I agree that the cover ia absolutely haunting, and I would like to learn more about the Armenian genocide. I read One Day the Soldiers Came two years ago, which touched on it, but that was my first introduction. Amazing what history classes skip over...

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  9. Beautiful review. I am totally adding to my wish list!

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  10. Great review Diane. If you want to read another book about the topic I highly recommend Black Dog of Fate which is a memoir. Very powerful.

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  11. I will definitely have to add this to my TBR list: this sounds like a book that just should not be missed. Great review.

    Jennifer @ www.justicejennifer.com

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  12. I have heard a lot of good things about this book and hope I can get the chance to read it. I am so glad that you loved it, and you wrote a really enticing review! Thanks!

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  13. This sounds like an amazing book! I've heard a lot of good things about it, and I hope to find it at my library.

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  14. I am so happy to hear that you really enjoyed this book! That cover is so haunting and it really called out to me.

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  15. This book sounds amazing! I instantly had to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing your review!

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  16. I want this one! I have never read anything on The American Genocide

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  17. I just got this one and am looking forward to it!

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  18. This one sounds really good. I'll have to try snag a copy of it soon.

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  19. The cover shakes me to the core for some reason. This sounds like an extremely powerful read and one that I want to find time for in the future.

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  20. I have the ARC of this one and am looking forward to it. Hooray that you really liked it. :)

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  21. I'll have to see if I can find this here. If not, I'll order it online. That cover looks great but what's better is the storyline.

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  22. This one is definitely being added to my list.

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