ataly Restokian is the 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.
The Novel “MASKS”
Masks is a fiction novel, 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 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.
An intriguing tale of one woman’s fame, betrayal, and resilience awaits readers in Masks, the somewhat dark, lightly erotic tale inspired by real-life events from author Nataly Restokian.
A strong female perspective on society, romance, and individualism
Masks Relates a Compelling Tale of Fame, Heartache, and Resilience
Anna lives in a world where a girl is worth only as much as her virginity, where women do not dare ask for divorce, and where social, religious, and sexual taboos force women to bury their strength and passion.
As an Armenian girl growing up in Lebanon, Anna suffered unspeakable hardships, including rape, with the country’s civil war a constant backdrop. Against all odds, she fiercely works her way into a successful television career as an adult, but her fame and loveless marriage only serve to bind her ever tighter to society’s expectations.
She combats her husband’s infidelities with her own steady stream of lovers, but each encounter only underscores the emptiness in her heart until the unexpected happens: a passion-filled night with a handsome Canadian awakens untested emotions inside her. Suddenly, she’s ready to risk everything she’s ever known for a stranger who lives oceans away. Will Anna find the freedom and true happiness that she so desperately seeks, or will Middle Eastern society’s unrelenting grip prove too powerful?
Masks, the debut novel from Nataly Restokian, takes readers on a journey through Anna’s persistent struggle to find true, authentic happiness in an environment that marginalizes women. Inspired by the author’s personal experiences as a television personality in the Middle East, Masks reveals through Anna the uncensored reality of the way women are treated in the Arab world and the hidden traps found within the glamorous circles of fame and fortune.
Author Nataly Restokian is the granddaughter of Armenian genocide survivors. Born and raised in Lebanon, Restokian spent nearly two decades as a television journalist, actress, talk show host, and radio host in the Lebanese and Arabic societies. She also worked as a marketing manager for three different economic and industrial magazines in Lebanon. She rose through the ranks before giving it all up for a chance at happiness and true love. Today, Restokian is married and living in Montreal. She is working on her second novel.
International Reviews for “Masks”
Thomas Anderson – editor in chief, Literary Titans.
“There is a fresh feel in the author’s approach as she has been a keen observer of the societal nuances of the region, and is able to express it in terms that I felt were original and thought provoking. People from the west are inundated with reports everyday in the media and news channels about the region’s political and economic turmoil and forgets completely about the people, as individuals, living their lives. Hoping for a better future, like Anna. That’s what I like most about this story, that it’s a human story that I could relate to, because sometimes we too wear masks. I admire this story because it casts the region and culture in a different light, one that is not a hot spot for terror but instead brings forth the spirit of resilience. The spirit that makes people persevere in the face of difficulties and yet still have a passion for life. People that are scarred by their past, but not a prisoner of it. I feel that Anna embodies this spirit. I was intrigued by the exotic setting, Anna’s complex character, and the twists and turns that the story took as she risked it all in her quest for love and acceptance. I highly recommend this book.”
Bruce Miller-Bestselling Author, Screenwriter, Humorist at TeamGolfwell (2009-present)
Five stars review
If you want to read a very interesting book about “Masks” see this book by Nataly Restokian
“I was intrigued reading “Masks” by Nataly Restokian. I thought the story (which is about a woman named “Anna” and is based on true events) was written by a very beautiful woman who emerges from a very conservative beginning amidst a vast amount of turbulence in the Middle East, to a high place of status in the middle east using her creative and intelligent mind.
She achieves success but isn’t satisfied and gives it all up for a genuine love she hasn’t ever experienced before. To me, she showed courage and confidence in achieving success, and I was fascinated when she takes herself from it showing a lot of courage seeking more in life which aren’t material vanities.
The author is an assertive beautiful woman who is also very intelligent as she tells her most innermost thoughts and how her values changed which led her to a happier and fulfilling life.”
Bob DCosta – poet, author, and consulting educationist, a member of the Federation of SAARC Writers And Literature (FOSWAL), the SAARC Apex Body.
If you have not read Masks, you should read it, and if you have read it, you should make sure to read it again, for when can a journey be filled with more experience than what the author, Nataly Restokian has gone through. In this debut novel, the Lebanon-born author details the life of Anna, the protagonist as she moves in a world of glamor and materialism. But deep within, Anna is fighting her own demons. She walks the path alone, disappointing her parents whose society demands social, religious and sexual taboos. Once on her own, Anna’s determination salutes her as opportunities unroll their red carpet for her and very soon she is in the world of Arab celebrities where she too tastes the wine of success. But is this what she actually desires? Is this what her soul invokes her? Though a public figure by now and fame and money is what she is dressed in, the protagonist’s soul pines to end her plastic smiles and sexual adventures and all the misery it brings along at the end of the day. Anna finds solace in her aunt Araxi’s house where the aged lady’s lifestyle is fashioned with the barest minimum.
Anna occasionally delves into her childhood in the war-torn surrounding of Lebanon with her parents making every endeavor to make a living by selling bread on the dreaded city street. Then there is the one-roomed house with innumerable people staying together, this room being a hall room, dining room, bathroom and bedroom all squashed into one. These memories get hold of her every now before making a permanent vision floating in her mind. A line that stands out is:
No one can finish the race for me, Anna thought. I must run on my own. I might fall, but nothing will keep me down.
Very soon a total stranger appears in Anna’s world and she realizes her deep love for this man. With his unconditional love, she understands her universe of glamor and materialism is just a method of temporary escape from her real world of love and serenity. She doesn’t mind living with this man, “Even in a hut,” when he had declared that in his life he neither has fame, name nor glamor.
The events of Masks appear clear in the mind as if one is watching a film. The language too is simple and lucid. Moreover, the flashbacks help a reader to comprehend the reason behind Anna’s outlook towards her present life.
The story laced with happiness, suffering, and anger (which we all have faced and will face in the near future), add to the ultimate beauty of the story, the story that will touch the reader’s heart. Every story has a message and the message here is not to forget our past, to be respectful and modest to all that we have faced and the life of struggle we have gone through at our early formative years. And if we believe in ourselves, our future will be filled with love and understanding.
Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite
Masks by Nataly Restokian is a contemporary romance with a unique twist, a story of love that explores a woman’s unrelenting search for happiness and inner freedom. Anna had never been beautiful or attractive in her younger years. She once was the nerd who got bullied at school, stifled by the norms of society and religion, but she is the woman who broke free and went after pleasure and fame, eventually getting into the circle of Arab celebrities. As her fame grows so too does a disturbing emptiness, a void that inhabits her. Anna is determined to find fulfillment and meaning and neither wealth, sex, nor fame seem to offer her what she deeply desires. When she meets a young Canadian, her heart opens in ways she’d never experienced before. Is she ready to leave her unfaithful husband and the world of glamour and risk all for a man across the ocean with nothing to offer?
Nataly Restokian is an author who knows how to build emotional tension, developing a protagonist whose journey allows readers to understand the world she comes from. There is a striking sensuality in the language that reflects the beauty of the soul of the protagonist. It is interesting how she juxtaposes the sacred with the mundane, societal taboos with the quest for freedom. Her characters are not just enjoyable but real, and she captures the dilemmas of the modern woman in an Arab setting with intelligence, skill, and wisdom. Anna is one of those characters that modern women will root for. I enjoyed the elegant prose, the enticing setting featuring religious and cultural elements, and the winding plot, but above all, the deft character handling got me. Masks is a novel that is bold and that explores the masks most of us are forced to carry. It’s a story of how one woman dares to throw off her mask and face her innermost desires. A must-read!