I wasn’t fortunate enough to read the first of Cathy’s
semi-biographical “Destiny” trilogy, but with no idea to support my belief, I
can’t help thinking that I really got lucky with Book Two – it is wonderful,
just a lovely book, on so many levels.
Telling the story of four generations of Cathy’s (“Cassie’s”) family following
their emigration from Armenia to the United States at the dawn of the twentieth
century, with a part fictionalized slant, there is a fair amount of European history
in this informative and heart-tugging book.
But, more than anything else, it is a book about love and togetherness,
and this shows throughout.
Cassie’s ancestors were a determined, principled
and truly dignified bunch. Fleeing horrific
persecution and genocide at the hands of barbaric oppressors, they fought hard
to start a new life as sometimes unwelcome outsiders, with nothing but each
other and their untiring work ethic.
From the precipice of destruction (both physical and emotional), this
awe-inspiring family – motivated in no small part by their tremendous matriarch
and then her son Hrant – clawed their way to success and stability in
America. I have no doubt they are a
solvent and professional family now, in stark contrast to the abuses suffered
back in their homeland by the Ottoman Turks.
The connecting, underlying token which the book employs to metaphorically
connect the present to the not-so-distant past is a traditional Armenian
wedding ring, passed down the generations.
I don’t know how much of this book is true and how much is fictionalized,
but I do very much hope that the ring falls into the former category; it would
be, and indeed is, a lovely, romantic story.
Obviously there is a lot of loss and sadness toward the end, as the years
move on and younger generations become the focus, but the common thread never
really changes: it is always about hope for the future. And, of course, the love which is always
Coming from a family of refugee ancestors myself,
this epic saga struck a little bit of a chord with me, and gave me a little
insight as to what my now-departed relatives might have endured at the hands of
those same geographical enemies. Reading
about it in real-time narrative, by someone so informed and clearly so conscientious
in her research, put a new light into the stories my own grandmother chose to
tell me – and more so those she did not.
Perhaps more importantly, though, is the fact that this is simply a very
good book, and Cathy is a beautiful writer, who paces the years and events perfectly. I enjoyed it immensely, and was actually
quite disappointed when it reached its end.
Not for long, however, because then Cathy includes some very unexpected
and welcome additions to the story, including a timeline of the recent history of
Europe, in the context of her ancestors, and even a collection of traditional Armenian
recipes, which I must say got my mouth watering. I was particularly delighted at learning the
recipe for baklava! Thank you, Cathy,
for the holistic experience of this book; I look forward eagerly to reading more.
In : Book Reviews