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Praise for Carol Edgarian


“In this gorgeously written, haunting, and often hilarious novel, Edgarian conjures a particular moment in America’s recent history and unleashes within it a collision of universal forces: love, desire, ambition, loyalty. I can’t think of a book that more viscerally evokes the gritty challenge—and casual heroism—of motherhood and marriage.”

—Jennifer Egan

“Furiously compelling… a fiery, deeply involving book.”

—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“A lovely, resonant novel… This story feels universal. Not to mention generous and graceful and true.”

—O, The Oprah Magazine

“Thought-provoking, intelligent, wise, sad, and illuminating. If that makes it sound too lofty, it’s not: it’s humane and therefore sometimes funny, and it nails the complexities of adulthood with a steel hammer held gently in very capable hands.”

—Ann Beattie

“Love, family, marriage, illness, and money—this is a life story and a love story for our era, beautifully observed, sharply etched by a master storyteller.”

—Amy Bloom

“A brilliant and irresistible look at married life and happiness and the very human limitations of both. She’s a wonderful writer.”

—James Salter

“It’s a great heart in a great author who loves the villains in a story while fully imbuing the heroes with human flaws and hungers.… Seldom have such true portraits of our era, or any era, appeared.”

—Rick Bass


“A book whose generosity of spirit, intelligence, humanity, and finally ambition are what literature ought to be and rarely is today—daring, heartbreaking, and affirmative, giving order and sense to our random lives.”

—The Washington Post

“The writing is so good it can raise the hairs on your neck.”

—Elizabeth Berg

“A novel of extraordinary compassion, it’s also a dead-on view of assimilation and the American experience.”

—The Phoenix Gazette

“Rise the Euphrates begins with vivid, chilling scenes from the Armenian holocaust, follows one of its orphans to the New World, and becomes a commentary on the variety of the American experience. It is a wonderfully written family chronicle, full of observation and insight, that both moves and entertains. Its richly drawn characters and the haunted voice of its narrator will remain long in readers’ memories.”

—Robert Stone

“Carol Edgarian is a remarkable writer of intelligence and compassion. She has written an important story that is at once unique and universal. In Rise the Euphrates, history and personal story deftly intertwine to create a complex of emotions and questions about humanity, love, and family.”

—Amy Tan

“Edgarian’s sumptuous writing and uncommon wisdom about the human spirit and its maiming seep into a reader’s heart, refusing to leave.”

—Miami Herald

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For Liv Far, Lucy Honor, Anne Riley

There is an old adage that the Investigating Officer can often remember to good purpose, namely, “Cherchez la femme,” “Look for the woman at the bottom of it.”

—Criminal Investigation: A Practical Handbook for Magistrates, Police Officers, and Lawyers (1906)

When the bird and the book disagree, always believe the bird.

—James Audubon

First Things

I always thought of my city as a woman. But the house, it turned out, was a woman too. When the quake hit, she groaned. Her timbers strained to hold on to their pins, the pins snapping. And the rocks beneath the house? They had voices too. And if I ever wondered how long it would take for the world to end, I know: forty-five seconds.

An unearthly stillness preceded and followed the shaking. It’s what we did and didn’t do in the stillness that determined the rest of our days.

I lost two mothers that year. The first was Rose. I can’t say where she was born or where her kin came from. The fact is, I don’t know what mix of blood flows through me. I suspect there’s some Persian, possibly Armenian. I understand there may be some Northern African and Spanish in the mix too, and a good pour of French. Spanish by way of Mexico. None of this Rose would confirm or deny. “We’re mutts,” she said, and left it at that.

One of the harlots claimed that Rose had been found as a waif in the slums of Mexico City. For a fee, she was brought north. I believe that; I believe most anything when it comes to Rose. She spoke five languages; her hair was blue black, her skin copper, her eyes green. In San Francisco, she became a much-favored prostitute, catering to the gold rush miners. Her next clients were the fellows who came after the miners, the suit-wearing bankers and merchants, who thought they could gentle a murderous, gambling, whoring town; they thought they could gentle Rose. Instead she became the grande dame of the Barbary Coast, the Rose of The Rose. She did not raise me. That duty fell to a Swedish widow employed to bring me up to be, I suppose, anything but a hooker. In that, Morie Johnson was successful. I am not a hooker. I am only a thief.



Being a bastard and almost orphan, I never took for granted the trappings of home. My fifteenth birthday fell on a Monday that year, 1906. In nine days, the world I knew would be gone. The house, the neighborhood, our city, gone.

I am the only one left to tell it.

It was springtime. First thing before breakfast, my sister, Pie, and I made our lady loops—to Fort Mason and back. We were two girls exercising one unruly dog.

Pie walked slowly, having just the one speed, her hat and parasol canted at a fetching angle. She was eighteen and

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