Title: Three Daughters of Eve
Author: Elif Shafak
First published June 28, 2016
384 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9780241288047 (ISBN10: 0241288045)
In “Three Daughters of Eve” by Elif Shafak, Peri, a wealthy Turkish woman, finds herself struggling with her past as she attends a dinner party in Istanbul. When a beggar takes her handbag, Peri is forced to confront a past she has long tried to forget – an old Polaroid of three young women and their university professor.
As the evening progresses, tensions rise and terrorist attacks occur throughout the city, forcing Peri to relive memories of her time at Oxford University where she became friends with two very different, yet equally fascinating women: Shirin, an Iranian girl who embraced Western culture, and Mona, an Egyptian American devout to her faith. Through Peri’s memories, readers are invited to explore complex questions of identity, religion, and feminism in a country at the crossroads of East and West.
Will Peri be able to confront the scandal that tore their friendship apart, or will the memories consume her as the world around her falls apart?
About the Author
Elif Shafak is an accomplished award-winning novelist of both Turkish and British descent. She is highly regarded in Turkey and is the most widely read female author in the country.
With a total of seventeen books to her name, eleven of which are novels, her work has been translated into an impressive fifty languages.
Shafak is a highly educated individual with a PhD in political science. She has also taught at several universities in the US, UK, and Turkey, including Oxford University’s St Anne’s College, where she is an honorary fellow.
She is not only an advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights, and freedom of speech, but she is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy.
Shafak is a highly sought after public speaker and has given two TED Global speeches, both of which received a standing ovation. She is a talented writer who contributes to major publications across the world, and in 2017, she was recognized by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world a better place.
Additionally, she has judged numerous literary prizes and currently chairs the Wellcome Prize for 2019.
Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak is a spellbinding exploration of identity, faith, and freedom. Shafak, who is known for her unique storytelling style and her ability to weave together various cultures, religions, and histories, delivers a thought-provoking and emotionally charged novel that will leave readers wanting more.
Set in contemporary Istanbul and Oxford, Three Daughters of Eve follows Peri, a middle-aged woman who is caught between three different worlds: her conservative Turkish upbringing, her liberal Oxford education, and her personal struggles in between. When Peri attends a dinner party with her husband, she is forced to confront her past and present beliefs and choices, as she reflects on her tumultuous university years, her difficult relationship with her mother, and her complex friendships with two other Muslim women.
Shafak’s writing is graceful and evocative, as she seamlessly switches between past and present, dialogue and description, and multiple points of view. Her characters are complex and compassionately drawn, as each of them embodies a different aspect of the Turkish identity and psyche.
At the center of the novel is Peri, who is both relatable and enigmatic, as she struggles to find her place in the world and reconcile her conflicting beliefs and desires. Through Peri’s story, Shafak raises important questions about gender roles, religious tolerance, secularism, and the intersectionality of different identities.
What makes Three Daughters of Eve a standout novel is Shafak’s ability to challenge stereotypes and myths, and to offer multiple perspectives on the same issues. She does not simplify or reduce the complexity of Turkish politics, history, or culture, but rather illuminates their richness and diversity.
She also does not shy away from controversial or taboo topics, such as sexuality, terrorism, and extremism, but rather confronts them with nuance and sensitivity. While the novel has some minor flaws, such as repetitive or predictable plot points, they are overshadowed by its overall achievements.
Shafak’s prose is poetic and powerful, as she captures the essence of Istanbul and Oxford with sensory detail and emotional resonance. Her themes are universal and relevant, as they resonate with current global debates and struggles.
Her message is hopeful and inspiring, as she encourages readers to embrace complexity and diversity, and to seek their own paths of enlightenment and redemption. Overall, Three Daughters of Eve is a must-read for anyone who loves intelligent, insightful, and visionary fiction.
It is a book that will challenge and inspire you, and that will stay with you long after you finish it. Whether you are a fan of Shafak’s previous works, or a newcomer to her writing, you will find something to love and admire in this exceptional novel.