“And three apples fell from heaven. One for the storyteller, one for the listener, and one for the eavesdropper.” This old Armenian fable, Three Apples fell From The Sky, is the basis of this rich story. It is set in the tiny, remote village of Maran, in the mountains of Armenia. Most of the young people have left the village and moved to the valley for more amenities and work. Maran is connected to the outside world by an aging telegraph wire and a treacherous, winding mountain path. The villagers are bound to each other by proximity and loyalty.
The author so richly describes everyday life, that the reader feels they are actually in the village. You get to know the characters and their foibles, the acts of kindness, their wit and charm, and customs. The story begins with Anatolia, who believes she is going to die. She puts on her funeral clothes, then opens the window so her soul can escape. She has had a hard life, married to a brutal man. She sought solace in organizing a small library, where she arranged the books by the colour of their covers. She made curtains and cushions for the place and gradually it became a haven.
We meet other members of the village, and sigh for the postman who must use the overgrown track from the valley to deliver any mail. The famine and war which devastated the small community, made the remaining characters resilient and accepting of fate. They once had a thriving marketplace where you could barter any goods, but the shrinking population has erased that. So, imagine how the locals feel when the blacksmith asks if he can marry. A wedding and a great surprise are about to overtake the village. The joy in the simple everyday sharing, planning and baking, transforms even the gloomiest character.
Narine Abgaryan has deservedly won many awards for this book which is described as “Balm for the Soul.”