Emmett Conn was a gendarme during World War I and escorted Armenians from Turkey to Syria. The “escort” was in fact part of the Armenian genocide, which few people survived. While there, he met a woman named Araxie and became fascinated with her. As the war came to an end, they were separated and Emmett was injured.
Emmett is now an elderly man near the end of his life and is experiencing memory loss due to his war injury. He begins to have seizures and dreams of not being able to escape. Due to his age and veteran status, people believe him to be senile and confused. What they don’t understand is that he has become overwhelmed with his memories of the events that took place during the war that others have intentionally overlooked.
Seven decades later, with his confusion and memory loss at its peak, he loses his grasp on reality. And although his daughter, whom he was somewhat estranged from, cares for him and tries to help him overcome the difficulties of his health, he doesn’t know the difference between the past and the present. Because of this he longs for absolution and decides to begin looking for Araxie so that he can ask for her forgiveness.
The Gendarme is written in the first person, and Mark Mustain’s prose in this book is expressed so beautifully that it’s nearly poetic. He speaks of love in such a way that we start to see how it rises above race, religion, and matters of the government. The Gendarme is a story of hope and survival; one that will have readers thinking about it even after turning the last page. It is a story of memories, denial, and reparation; it is a story of the human spirit.
The most important lesson I learned from The Gendarme is that nothing can divide us as human beings in the face of love.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Amy Einhorn Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.