First published in the UK by Penguin Random House yesterday, the 2nd February 2017.
This is my second book for the See Orange Feminist February Challenge.
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How I got this book:
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground - an old polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past - and a love - Peri had tried desperately to forget.
The photograph takes Peri back to Oxford University, as an eighteen year old sent abroad for the first time. To her dazzling, rebellious Professor and his life-changing course on God. To her home with her two best friends, Shirin and Mona, and their arguments about Islam and femininity. And finally, to the scandal that tore them all apart.
I loved this philosophical novel with its many thoughtful discussions on faith and culture, religion and God. It is a slow burn which might not appeal to some readers, but I thought the pace suited Shafak's themes perfectly. Set over one bourgeois Turkish dinner party, Three Daughters Of Eve reflects the courses of the meal. We are transported to Oxford some twenty years previously as Peri remembers and reveals defining moments and people from her time there. To me, these scenes felt like the filling dishes. Then we jump back briefly to present-day Istanbul for refreshing entremets and light relief.
Shafak makes many sharp observations, particularly about faith and our insistence on prejudging those whose religious views differ from our own. Her gathering of the three 'daughters' - the sinner, the believer and the confused - allows vividly tense scenes and I liked that we see the beginnings of Peri's self-belief in her differing reactions to arguments between Shirin and Mona compared to earlier similar scenes in her parental home. I could completely sympathise and empathise with Peri. Like her, I prefer solitude and the middle ground although I think her feelings of not quite fitting in are a more common trait than many of us care to admit.
I experienced many instances of finding myself triumphantly in agreement with characters' opinions and arguments whilst reading Three Daughters Of Eve, but was challenged in my own beliefs by said characters not always being the ones with whom I expected to identify. This novel feels ideally suited to our times, a call perhaps to stop and think about our theological similarities instead of joining the increasingly hysterical baying for arbitrary division and enmity.
Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Elif Shafak / Contemporary fiction / Books from Turkey