Marriage For Aghavni
by Elaine Cornell
PageTurner Press and Media

"As soon as she started screaming the alligators and other meat eating animals turned in her direction and started for her."

Towards the end of WWI, as Lenin came to power and Muslim leaders declared jihad on their Christian neighbors and countries, the citizens of Armenia were left in a terrible predicament. Aghavni, or Avi, hid under a cabinet while Muslim soldiers attacked and raped her mother. Her father had been missing for months, likely taken by Russian forces because he was an intellectual and may not have written history the way Lenin sympathizers would appreciate. Avi's mother becomes pregnant because of the attack. She decides to leave Avi in the care of her neighbors who are planning an escape from Armenia. They hope to travel to America. The group is worried about Avi's safety as she is traveling with no family ties. Although she is only eight, the group decides to engage her to one of their own, a young man named Arman.

Cornell has picked a fascinating and lesser-known group of people and historical situation in which to set her story. This novel is well-researched and includes lots of background information. The importance of the characters' religious beliefs and the hope it gives them is ingrained in the story. The discussion of the marriage night and sexual expectations gets a bit repetitive and, despite the historical context, may prove disturbing due to the age of the characters, especially Avi. The book focuses more on the characters and their marriages than the tense situations and hardships the group will face. However, those interested in the plight of the Armenian people, particularly the devout Christians, could find this book piques their curiosity and may discover themselves hungry for more content about this fascinating group of people.

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