Skylark Farm is the Arslanian family’s country retreat. The life of this prosperous Armenian family is touchingly centered on the brothers, sisters, and children, all of whom live together in a loving, caring environment. We see the family in Anatolia preparing for a visit from Yerwant, the oldest brother who, as a teenager, left home to study medicine. He has become a well-respected, prosperous doctor in his adopted country of Italy. His brother, Sempad, became a pharmacist and returned home. Much of the story revolves around the happy preparations and joyous anticipation for a long overdue reunion with Yerwant and his family. This visit does not come about, unfortunately, because Italy has joined in the war and travel into the Ottoman Empire is no longer possible. This is a beautiful account of Armenian life cut short by the horrible slaughter of most of the men and boys by the Turks in 1915, and the enforced march of the remaining elderly, women and children across the Syrian desert. These people suffered starvation, robbery, constant violent attacks, rape, and mindless slaughter; very few survived.
Despite the horror that ends the story, Dr. Arslan has written a poetically beautiful account of her family’s travail. Their deep affection, generosity, the enduring tragedy and the miracle of survival by a few are uplifting. Translated too literally, there are some awkward sentences as well as some abrupt switching points of view, but they do not detract from the suspense and drama of the narrative.