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Three Daughters of Eve Paperback – 11 Jan 2017
|Paperback, 11 Jan 2017||
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A terrific book. Poetic, poignant, trenchant. (Ian Rankin)
An intelligent, fierce and beguiling read (Financial Times)
A thoughtful, charming book that offers a connection to other worlds, perspectives and possibilities (Sunday Times)
An intense, discursive and absorbing novel (Observer)
One of the most important writers at work today, Elif Shafak eloquently explores Turkey's tumultuous present and past. Her magnificent latest moves between Istanbul and Oxford in a fascinating exploration of faith and friendship, rich and poor, and the devastating clash of tradition and modernity (Independent)
A brilliant and moving novel. Elif Shafak writes about religion without superficiality or special pleading, retaining a sense of its impossible possibility or its possible impossibility. Three Daughters of Eve is a remarkable accomplishment (Richard Holloway)
Elif Shafak's writing leaps off the page. In Three Daughters of Eve she takes us spine-tinglingly right under the skin of three women, exposing the strains of friendship through love and loss. An utterly engrossing read. (Frances Osborne, bestselling author of The Bolter)
Shafak's topical 10th novel is both an interrogation and a defence of Muslim identity (Rebecca Rose Financial Times)
Luscious, heartbreaking, completely absorbing. It is a full-blown saga of emotion and character, straddling countries, cultures and languages, exploring its women's ambitions and desires; and at the same time a steady-eyed examination of the nameless rules - of femininity, duty, belief and behaviour - that keep us in line and under control. This is an absolutely consuming novel about women who know what they want, and a warning about the price we pay, written with the fluency and depth of an author at the very top of her game. (Bidisha)
Exuberant, epic and comic, fantastical and realistic . . . like all good stories it conveys deeper meanings about human experience (Financial Times on 'The Architect's Apprentice')
From the Inside Flap
Set across Istanbul and Oxford, from the 1980s to the present day, Three Daughters of Eve is a sweeping tale of faith and friendship, tradition and modernity, love and an unexpected betrayal.
Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife and mother, 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 nineteen year old sent abroad for the first time. To her dazzling, rebellious Professor and his life-changing course on God. To the house she shares with her two best friends, Shirin and Mona, and their arguments about identity, Islam and feminism. And finally, to the scandal that tore them all apart.
Shirin, Peri and Mona, they were the most unlikely of friends. They were the Sinner, the Believer and the Confused.See all Product description
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The plot revolves around protagonist Peri's time as an undergraduate student at the University of Oxford, where she befriends Iranian atheist student Shirin, and religiously conservative Mona. All three enroll on a seminar by Professor Azur that focuses on God. The book flits between Peri's time at Oxford in 2002, and her life in Istanbul in 2016 as a housewife and mother.
Peri's character as a timid, uncertain and confused teenager is pretty well developed. However, Shafak does not spend enough time rounding out the other characters. She delves into Azur's history towards the end of the book, but Shirin and Mona are left as an unproblematic dichotomy. Even though Shafak uses the poststructuralist terminology of "self" and "other" in discussing the Shirin/Mona binary opposition, she does not bother to scratch the surface and find out what lies beneath their seemingly uni-dimensional personalities.
Much like Peri's character, Shafak is timid about engaging with the loaded issues of religion, politics and mental health. She tiptoes around them, failing to capitalise on the fact that Peri went to Oxford in 2002--right after the September 11 attacks--which could have been an opportunity to engage more seriously with the Islamophobia that the events of 2001 triggered in the West.
Even so, I would recommend Three Daughters of Eve to fans of Shafak's writing. The book contains many nuggets of insight, and is worth a read.
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