Review: Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

It was a surreal book – something that was so magical that I couldn’t stop thinking about it even if it was set entirely in the real world. Brilliant and one of my favourites. I doubt I’ll be able to do justice to the book in a short review, and on top of that I read it a while ago but couldn’t get to writing it, so it’s not completeLY fresh in my mind – but I shall try my best.

Firstly, some aspects of this book that I loved: the three main characters are all female. The intersection of philosophy, religion, tradition/modernity and feminism in such a compelling storyline. All the little thoughts and insights that are lurking in the back of our mind, put into words so beautifully.  

“Why roots were rated so highly compared with branches or leaves, Peri had never understood. Trees had multiple shoots and filaments extending in every direction, under and above the ancient soils of the earth. If even roots refused to stay put, why expect the impossible from human beings?”

♦ PLOT ♦

Three Daughters of Eve is both a fast and slow-paced book but oddly enough, that didn’t matter. The book progresses both in the present – where Peri is attending a dinner party, and the evening unfolds in pieces throughout the book – as well as in the past – following Peri all the way from childhood to the why she left Oxford University. Both time periods are engrossing, and props for the fact that the alternation between them didn’t get confusing!


*Probably spoilers ahead!*

Throughout her life, Peri was indecisive. But she finally made a decision on the last day – for the first time in her life, she was able to reconcile the split in her soul by proactively tying up loose ends with her phone calls to Shirin and Azur. And once her purpose, what she needed to do in her life all those years – gain contentment – had been fulfilled, she could choose without guilt. The fact that she opened the wardrobe – taking fate, and almost certain death, in her own hands is significant. She has completed her character arc, and chosen action over complacency.

Her psychological condition is worth exploring. With all the exploration and kind of life she left behind at Oxford, I was almost waiting to find out about her misery in her current life. But it wasn’t there. It’s not like she walked out of the cupboard because she’s a listless, bored and depressed person. She’s not her mother. She didn’t have a terrible marriage – the shoulder squeeze, little moments showed that Peri had a caring husband.

But she still chose to walk out of the cupboard. She had completed what she needed to do for herself. Maybe she chose it because the shadow of death always lingered over her – in the form of her baby brother.

5 stars! 

“Like a river her ideas gushed, words of liquid, seething, splashing, searching. She said people who believed or disbelieved with a sincere passion were equally worthy of respect in her eyes. What she couldn’t tolerate were those who didn’t think. The copycats, she called them.”

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