Who She Left Behind
Victoria Atamian Waterman
“Who She Left Behind” is a captivating historical fiction novel that spans generations and delves into the emotional lives of its characters. Set in various time periods, from the declining days of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey in 1915 to the Armenian neighborhoods of Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the 1990s, the novel completely immerses its reader in a lesser-known era and the untold stories of the brave and resilient women who became the pillars of reconstructed communities after the Armenian Genocide.
It is a story of survival, motherhood, love, and redemption based on the recounted stories from the author’s own family history. The narrative is framed by a mysterious discovery made almost six decades later of a pair of Armenian dolls left at a gravesite.
Enjoy an Excerpt:
The village slept uneasily if it slept at all. Even the dogs were quiet, tails and ears low as they slunk along the sidewalks, hoping for scraps from the Turkish soldiers.
Further from the village center, the Karadelian house stood pale in the moonlight. The night was mild, the scent of light rain in the air, but Victoria’s palms were clammy where they lay flat against her sheets. Her next-youngest sister Yegsabet had crawled into bed with her an hour before, but Victoria was sure she wasn’t sleeping, either. She heard nine-year-old Mariam crying, her middle sister likely woken by baby Shenorig wailing in the night, and their mother’s steps in the hallway to comfort her. Mariam had already cried herself to sleep once that night. Two-year-old Lucine would sleep through it all, as she always did. She was too little even to be frightened.
Earlier that day, when the soldiers came to draft the men and boys for a special project, they’d pushed their way inside to scour the house for anything the family might have used to defend themselves.
Victoria heard warnings from the soldiers of insurgents and enemies of the state, but she didn’t understand how it applied to a prosperous cloth merchant whose shawls were the envy of every nearby village. She couldn’t understand why her family would need to defend themselves.
Victoria Atamian Waterman is an Armenian-American storyteller and speaker who draws inspiration from the quirky multigenerational, multilingual home in which she was raised with her grandparents, survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
Her empowerment of today’s women and girls makes her voice ideal for telling the little-known stories of yesterday’s women leaders. Her TED Talk, “Today’s Girls are Tomorrow’s Leaders” has been seen by thousands of viewers. When she is not writing and speaking, she is reading, puzzle-making and volunteering.
Victoria lives in Rhode Island and is enjoying this next chapter of life with her husband, children, and grandchildren. “Who She Left Behind” is her first novel.
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