Zabelle begins in a suburb of Boston with the quiet death of Zabelle Chahasbanian, an elderly widow and grandmother whose history remains vastly unknown to her family. But as the story shifts back in time to Zabelle’s childhood in the waning days of Ottoman Turkey, where she survives the 1915 Armenian genocide and near starvation in the Syrian desert, an unforgettable character begins to emerge. Zabelle’s journey encompasses years in an Istanbul orphanage, a fortuitous adoption by a rich Armenian family, and an arranged marriage to an Armenian grocer who brings her to America where the often comic interactions and battles she wages are forever coloured by shadows from the long-lost world of her past.
"A mother is never truly known to those she loves most – because she does not reveal her secret sorrows and her dreams to her own babies… But the full and dramatic details of Zabelle Chahasbanian's life… are a treasure to discover in this elegant novel." – Redbook
"Zabelle's story is richly and convincingly rendered… Zabelle poignantly renders the generational differences, the pull of America, the slow fading of the old culture, the prejudices encountered and hardships overcome." – San Francisco Chronicle