Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I really hope you’re ready for this extra long post! Read on to discover more about this book, its author and to read her interview – enjoy!
Information about the Book
Author: Nataly Restokian
Release Date: 8th March 2018
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Tellwent Talents
Masks is a dark fictional tale, based on true-life events. It narrates the adventures of a young Armenian girl born in Lebanon in the seventies. She dreams of fame and power in Lebanon and the Arab world and shows resilience and motivation beyond her years. The novel delves into the world of the protagonist, Anna, who is surrounded by social, religious, and sexual taboos. She fiercely breaks the chains to enter the world she has strived to reach, in a seemingly conservative society barely emerging from a civil war. She builds her success on her remaining values, challenging her fate and sparing no way means to attain her goals.
As a disappointment to her parents, she walks the challenging paths alone, making her way toward fame and fortune despite lacking the support system to do so. Doors begin to open for her, and she enters the world of Arab celebrities. She is now a public figure in the Middle East, living an immoral married life in a materialistic world surrounded by influential business people and royal family members. She tries, in vain, to fill the void in her soul with sexual adventures and controversy by taking a wide variety of lovers. Her adventures invariably end in misery, doing nothing to awaken her from her numbness. Still, her vivid, out-of-control personality helps her move forward while simultaneously getting her in trouble. In the early stages of her life, she has suffered the unthinkable, being bullied and raped, with the civil war a constant backdrop throughout most of her childhood. The novel delves deep into Anna’s mind as she has flashbacks of the trauma she has suffered, offering the reader a hint of an explanation for her behavior.
In a society in which men dominate women, she is one of the few who realize that fashion, social status, plastic surgeries, and bright smiles are not the answer to happiness. She lives in a world where a girl is only worth as much as her virginity, where women do not dare to ask for a divorce, where the fear of retribution keeps them locked in a cage that is very rarely gilded.
As fame, money, and power slowly eat at her soul, the arrogant Anna falls in love with a total stranger—a young, single bachelor from Canada—after a night of secret passion. That is where the story begins to unravel as she returns home with a scandal in her back pocket, her eyes and ears and heart tuned to this man instead of her husband. Anna realizes that neither her marriage nor her achievements have ever made her happy, so she decides to throw it all away. The lies and deceit that fill the so-called glamorous life she has been leading are floating up to the surface, including her husband’s infidelity and the critical steps she has taken to reach the top.
Marriage, family, career—all destroyed to be united with the stranger. She starts a new battle, this time struggling to change her destiny for someone she barely knows, who lives oceans apart and offers her nothing except his heart.
She risks everything, turning her whole life upside down. Anna realizes that her happiness, inner peace, and love are found worlds away from her own, with someone she would never have expected to be her soul mate. Still, Anna’s sacrifices are not behind her, and the struggle has not yet ended, although she has found what she has needed all her life: redemption and unconditional love.
The stranger enigmatically hints at emotions in Anna that have been hidden for a long time behind the masks of her dark and shallow lifestyle.
The characters in the story are the voices of so many who do not dare to speak up in a world where social and religious standards openly chastise the very actions that behind closed doors have become the ultimate paradigmatic way of life.
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39805939-masks
I am a grand-daughter of Armenian genocide survivors, born and raised in Lebanon. Eight years ago, I remarried and settled down in Montreal with my loving Canadian husband. I spent the past year gathering data and recollections to undertake the writing of my first novel.
My experience includes nearly two decades of journalism and television as an actress and a live T.V, show host and a radio host in the Lebanese and Arabic society. Eventually, I rose through the ranks, living the unspeakable until I gave it all up for a chance at happiness and true love. Through Anna, the protagonist, I am revealing the taboos and stories that unfold behind closed doors, the hidden traps found within the glamorous circles of fame and fortune.
I experienced the downfalls of the show-business industry, and through Masks, exposing its’ uncensored reality. Today – besides being a housewife, reading and watching movies – I am in the process of writing my second novel.
I always loved writing since I was very young, as I even won many awards in Armenian language compositions since I was a student and as a couple of them were published in the Lebanese Armenian national newspaper named Aztag at the time. I always wanted to be an author. However, I never thought It would be possible for me to become an author.
My impetus was my new husband in Canada, his true love, honesty, care, and sacrifice a rarity among men gave me the persistence to start writing my novel Masks.
However, the inspiration of my novel is the pain that I had seen, lived, and known for years as most of it is my personal experience. I transformed my pain into energy that inspired me to write rather than sitting down in a corner and feel sorry for myself as a victim. My life and the life of so many other women inspired me, I have lived for so long-suffering and had witnessed other women cry alone in the dark and hide just like I did once because they are unable to fight for their happiness stuck in a dominant male world.
I decided to write this book so that no more women be misled anymore, no more sexual harassment or verbal abuse, and no more persecution to any women.
So, the memories of my dark days, the battles with my demons in my head, and the agony of my past decisions and adventures motivated me to write Masks.
Be brave, remove your Mask, and speak up for a chance at absolute happiness.
I recently signed an exclusive agreement with Amazon ACX for the audiobook of my novel “Masks,” I decided and signed a contract with the fantastic producer in the USA; E.L.Beckett,(Rene Nicole, Fonda Lee)who will be narrating and producing Masks Audiobook through ACX Amazon. I am so grateful to Amazon, to my producer and audiobook narrator, and for their faith in me. I am thrilled.
I am currently working on my second novel.
I became a Toastmaster, and I hope I will be given chances to share, inspire, and speak to women in different communities.
I will be a guest speaker as an author on the 3rd of August in Ontario, Cornwall, at a fundraising event.
The Lebanese community in Canada is organizing a book launch event for Masks on September 10 in Quebec Laval as the book had become one of the 11 finalists among 2200 other worldwide contestants of Forward Indies Awards in Washington, the USA in March 2019.
I am working and doing everything I can in order to make this story be adapted into a movie or a TV series. People need to watch and understand that all Women deserve second chances, we all make mistakes, but we all deserve to be loved and happy. Masks should be on the screen not because it is the first novel of its kind but because it will show the viewers that women suffer based on outdated and cruel institutional and social obligations.
I am unable t say I have one inspiration though my husband, Nidal, is my purest inspiration of all, many other people inspired me in different ways, mostly enemies, people who hurt me.it is odd that I was so much more influenced by the bad done to me like many other women than the good I had seen and experienced.
Of course, this expression does not mean that I am a heavenly angel or a victim but a survivor, a woman who never gives up, believes in other women, and carrying the burdens of my own choices all the insult, ignorance, envy, deceit and even assault inspired me to become an author and start writing rather than being destroyed and hide behind my Masks and cry alone in the dark.
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Many thanks to Faye Rogers and Authoright for the content of this post and organising the tour it is part of.