This book is far too personal and dear to me, which may result in a very, very, very biased review about the author and the novel. You have been warned, my friend.
Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak is a story that follows a young girl – Nazperi or Peri for short –on her journey from Istanbul to Oxford University where she befriends two girls – Shirin and Mona- and falls for Philosophy Professor Azur; who all play a role in her quest to find God and meaning to His actions. But a university scandal, a broken heart and a deceit so severe, she returns back to Istanbul without fulfilling her father’s dream of getting a higher education or in compliance to her mother’s faith. Just more lost than ever.
“Peri understood and accepted that some daughters were born with a mission: to fulfill their father dream. In doing so they would also be redeeming their fatherland.”
The novel starts 15 years later in the present day with Peri stuck in the notorious traffic of Istanbul with her daughter where she gets mugged. Going after the thieves and successfully retrieving her possessions she lands on a Polaroid from her days in the UK that stirs back all the memories from a time she tried long and hard to forget. With this discovery, the novel goes back and forth between the past and her present.
“In many parts of the world you were what you said and what you did and, also, what you read; in Turkey, as in all countries haunted by questions of identity, you were, primarily, what you rejected.”
With inner debates on topics that plague her identity, her religion, her beliefs, and her faith we’re told the struggles Peri faced as a child in a dysfunctional family. Placed in a limbo since her childhood between leftist and rightist advocates, she never had an opportunity to form her set of ideologies until later on in Oxford University while attending a seminar on God – not religion or faith! Only God.
‘”I trust my daughter” chimed in Mensur…
“I do too” Selma said. “It’s the others I don’t”
“That’s a stupid thing to say ” Mensur said. “If you trust her, why care so much about other people”‘
Her present visually different from her past, she tries to reopen the hidden scars and make up for lost time in an elite Istanbul gathering where she has no interest. But like the day beginning with a robbery, the gathering doesn’t end well either. Hiding in a closet amid an ambush, she delivers one final seminar to the man she once truly loved and tries to stitch back up wounds still not healed.
“He was advised to give up drinking and to stay away from stress- as if stress were an obnoxious relative one could simply stop inviting to dinner”
It was my second time reading this book (thus proving I actually do read the same novels again!) and it struck my heart’s chord right where it did the first time. The story has so many details and so many angles, yet I can’t help but feel the story was so simple, yet written for me. I felt like Elif Shafak wrote my thoughts and curiosities on paper at times, which was both, scary and mind blowing.
I resonated with Peri “the confused”, Shirin “the Sinner” and Mona “the Believer”, on various occasions and couldn’t help but wonder is this somehow biographical? Has the author been through this? Surely she has right? For how else could she materialize arguments and ideas so vividly on atheism, theism, Islamophobia, identity crisis, so naturally and effortlessly.
I was shook beyond compare.
This is a self help book disguised as fiction, for surely such a master piece can’t actually be a thread of imagination, only.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 5.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “But her true companions where always book. Imagination was her home, her homeland, her refuge, her exile.”
- Reader level: Easy.
- Should you read: Indeed you should.
- Would I read it again: Can’t wait to read it for the third time 🙂
Till next time,