Please welcome a dear friend M. Gunter, to Babbette’s Book Blog today as a guest reviewer. M. is an avid reader who recently has been privileged with a couple of ARCs. The Gendarme by Mark Mustian is scheduled to be released on September 2. Thank you M., for taking the time to write for BBB!
As I returned from the neighborhood pool, I found a copy of The Gendarme on my doorstep. It was Christmas in July at the Gunter household that day! Elisabeth was informed of my advanced copy from Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. I wanted to read it before our next book club meeting to give my review and get the word out about this book.
The Gendarme is a story based on the Armenian exile from Turkey. The main character is Ahmet Khan. Change, faith and love are ever present themes in this work. We see Ahmet Khan through changes over the twentieth century. First, the reader gets a glimpse of what the Ottoman Empire was like for the Armenians who lived there. Mustian shows change not only in geography but change in the human experience when faced with war and genocide. On the journey, Ahmet, is a gendarme and is in charge of the deportees. Araxie is a beautiful Armenian girl. Part of her beauty is having one blue eye and one green eye. She is a strong woman who never comprises her Christian faith despite her circumstances. Ahmet Khan is injured and thought to be a British solider. He is sent to a British hospital where he meets his future wife Carol. Carol is a U.S. Citizen. The two live in New York City for a while but eventually settle down in Carol’s hometown of Wadesboro, Georgia.
The theme of faith is carefully sewn into the plot with equal respect given to the Muslim and Christian faiths. I felt that each set of beliefs were carefully examined by Mustian, not only to develop the characters, but to provide details of the different cultures within the story.
Love is a theme that transcends time and place. I felt that love was explored on many levels through family, friends and lovers. Relationships play a major part in this book to examine how the characters relate to Ahmet and he to the world. Some relationships are life long and some are short lived. Each character plays a vital role to the plot, and they are not forgotten through out the book. I don’t want to give the ending of story away, but I also don’t want to give the impression that this book is only a cheesy love story.
This book has opened my eyes to an event in history that I knew nothing about. I found myself staying up late and getting up early just to devour this book. It was a satisfying read, and I can’t wait to read more from this new author!
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