What would you do if the love of your life, and all your memories, were lost - only to reappear, but with such shocking revelations that you wish you had never remembered...
Emmett Conn is an old man, near the end of his life. A World War I veteran, he's been affected by memory loss since being injured during the war. To those around him, he's simply a confused man, fading in and out of senility. But what they don't know is that Emmett has been beset by memories, of events he and others have denied or purposely forgotten.
In Emmett's dreams he's a gendarme, escorting Armenians from Turkey. A young woman among them, Araxie, captivates and enthralls him. But then the trek ends, the war separates them. He is injured. Seven decades later, as his grasp on the boundaries between past and present begins to break down, Emmett sets out on a final journey, to find Araxie and beg her forgiveness.
Mark Mustian has written a remarkable novel about the power of memory - and the ability of people, individually and collectively, to forget. Depicting how love can transcend nationalities, politics, and religion, how racism creates divisions where none truly exist, and how the human spirit fights to survive even in the face of hopelessness, The Gendarme is a transcendent novel.
"Starred Review. First novelist Mustian writes relentlessly, telling his haunting story in brief bursts of luminous yet entirely unsentimental prose and reminding us that, when life gets bloody, we had better watch out for our own humanity." - Library Journal
"Mustian's staccato prose, an attempt to emulate Emmett's skittish and elusive dreams, works sometimes better than others, but the novel effectively captures the human capacity for survival and redemption." - Publishers Weekly
"An honorable failure. The cruelty of a callow youth is an inadequate distillation of man's inhumanity to man." - Kirkus
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Rated of 5
We read this as our book club selection for November. I found it haunting. One of our members has Armenian heritage and I learn a lot from her and so this was a further education.
Mark T. Mustian is an author, attorney, and city commissioner. He lives with his wife and three children in Tallahassee, Florida.
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