Three Daughters of Eve – by Elif Shafak – independent book review

Full Disclosure: I received early access to this book in exchange for writing a review. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.

DaughtersThis was my first exposure to this author, although she is touted as being the most widely read female author in Turkey. While there were moments when I felt impatient with the book’s shifting perspectives, it was an absorbing read.

The book presents three friends (the three daughters of the title) all originating in the Middle East and all studying at Oxford in England. The main focus of the story is Peri and on her homeland of Turkey. Moving back and forth in time, three periods of her life are slowly pieced together.
1. Her childhood in a dysfunctional family where most of the tension grew out of the struggle between traditional religious devotion versus interest in modernization and rational science.
2. Peri’s college years where women from other parts of the Middle East come of age in the middle of that same struggle, and under the considerable influence of a charismatic professor trying to discover the true nature of God.
3. 24 hours in Peri’s adult life, which begin with a mugging and end at a fancy dinner party, where again, the struggle between Eastern and Western values takes center stage.

Through Peri’s story, Shafak sheds light on the struggles endemic within Turkey and the dual nature of so many of its citizens. The writing is distinctive, precise, and beautiful. I learned a lot about Shafak’s country and culture and identified with many of the universal truths she considers– about love, family, and the pressures inherent in being a female. This is an author who truly knows how to explore the complexities of our humanity.

More about the author, Elif Shafak, one of the most widely read writers in Turkey.

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