Skip to main content

Three Daughters of Eve - Elif Shafak


There are writers and then there are storytellers. Elif Shafak would gracefully glide into the latter. A storyteller for sure and a captivating one at that! I had received this book for review by Penguin a few months ago and it has taken me a while to put my thoughts to paper. I suppose I was fearful of not being able to do justice to the sheer brilliance of this novel.
The book is set in Istanbul, Turkey and Oxford, England. The manner in which the story flits between two locations and two different points in time has been presented so beautifully that at no point do you feel confused or overwhelmed.
The story revolves around Peri who at present is a rich housewife in Istanbul. An encounter with a thief reveals a photograph from her past and this takes us back to Peri’s days in Oxford University, her life as a student and the intense relationships she enters into especially her relationship with one Professor Azur. This professor seems to live on the periphery of the acceptable notions of God and religion and through his classes he attempts to challenge and seemingly provoke deeply held beliefs of his students. Having been brought up in a home where her mother is very religious and her father not so much, Peri is trying to establish her own sense of faith as reflected in this sentence “God was a maze without a map, a circle without a centre; the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that never seemed to fit together. If only she could solve this mystery, she could bring meaning to senselessness, reason to madness, order to chaos, and perhaps, too, she could learn to be happy.”
Through this process she is seen to be engaged in a lot of self-reflection as well as being privy to the views of others specifically Shirin and Mona who end up being her friends in the initially unfamiliar world of Oxford. The following paragraph from the book helps encapsulate Peri’s impressions of Oxford. I found myself relating to this to a great extent when I first came to London as a student leaving behind the bustling city of Mumbai.
“The first thing that struck Peri about Oxford was the silence. That was, and would remain for months to come, the one peculiarity she found hard to get used to – the absence of noise. Istanbul was unashamedly boisterous, day and night; even when one pulled down the shutters, drew the curtains, put in earplugs and pulled the blanket up to one’s chin, the din, barely weakened, would penetrate through the walls, seeping into one’s sleep.”
The cultural difference between Turkey and England is so artfully presented through this sentence that I had to stop reading for a while and ponder “If I gave a bad performance on stage, Peri thought to herself, in Turkey, they’d pelt me with twigs of prickly holly; in England, I imagine it’d be with roses – confident that I’d get the message from the thorns. Totally different styles.”
Character development has been done with great care as evidenced in the fact that you still end up recalling characteristics of some of the characters long after you have finished reading the book. As you may have gathered, Shafak’s writing style is enamouring and possesses the rare quality of speaking to one’s soul. This book is her latest and quite ironically her first that I have read and it would be safe to say that I will be seeking out a lot more of her work. 
I am wholly grateful to the publisher for giving me an opportunity to review this gem of a book!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sab Moha Maya Hai - For The Sake of Valentine's Day!

14th February, Valentine’s Day. A day we are told we must “celebrate” as it epitomises this wonderful emotion that we as humans are capable of – Love.


“So, what are your plans for the day?” I was asked this question about a million times today and all I said was “Oh! I don’t know, I’m very unromantic!” to which I got responses like “But it’s the day of love” or “Come on! you need to celebrate love!” and so on. Having reflected upon this small talk that people often engage in to ease the awkward silences, I felt the need to put my thoughts to paper about the difference between romance and love as I find the two are often confused- one for the other. Romance is an expression of love, not love itself. Love is when you consistently strive for the wellbeing of another despite it causing you discomfort or pain. It is unconditional, not based on trivialities like tokens of affection which have sadly come to become measures of the extent of love. If you buy me a cake, you love me 30%, a design…

Serving Crazy With Curry - Amulya Malladi

Food! - That wonderful part of our existence that not only plays the essential role of providing daily sustenance but is also an archetype of culture and tradition. For me, food is a meaningful catalyst to creating unforgettable memories and associations. There are certain foods that I associate with certain events or significant people in my life. I also seek comfort in food be it a hot bowl of dal rice after a hard day at work or a sneaky piece of chocolate as a reward for achieving something (Yes, I do apply the principles of behavioural psychology to my own life!)
I first came across Amulya Malladi’s books in London’s local libraries. I was impressed that her books are well stocked which is an indication of their popularity. I read a couple of these books and soon found out the reason for this. Two words – Writing and Characters! Her writing is immensely engaging and her characters threaten to come alive page by page. This certainly applies to ‘Serving Crazy with Curry’.
Devi, our …

Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma

I was delighted to receive this book for review from Penguin UK. Having grown up with memories of the Penguin logo in almost every bookshop I visited, it felt wonderful to be recognised as a reviewer by this world renowned publishing house. 'Flesh and Bone and Water' has nothing to do with South Asia. However, the commonality it shares with the region is that it is set in Brazil, a place that is often referred to as also being part of the 'third world' group of nations. "It's easy to leave a place when you're young. Coming back is harder. That's my advice : stay where you are." And so begins this beautiful novel which I would term as part coming of age and part an immigrant's journey from Brazil to Londres (London). More importantly why does the protagonist Andre venture back on a journey to his childhood home? The author Luiza Sauma has very poignantly narrated the story in first person so it feels like Andre is telling you his own story. You…