Book Review: Three Daughters Of Eve
Elif Shafak is a woman uniquely gifted with the raw, unadulterated gravity of storytelling, minus any fancy curtains falling to the ground or false facades. Turkish writers often tend to leave a profound impact on the reader, due to, perhaps, the rich cultural heritage and royal lineage they possess. Orhan Pamuk’s books on a rainy day will transport you to a local café in Istanbul, where you sit by the window, sipping on their world-famous bitter brew, far away from the place you call home. But Shafak… She’s something else. She’ll create a whole new world out of pen and paper – one you’ll feel you’ve lived in forever. Colors and scents will play out vividly before your eyes, on a beautifully tainted, perfectly improvised movie reel.
Three Daughters of Eve is yet another masterpiece. The storyline is 10/10, and the character development occurs at just the right pace. Revolving around the story of Peri and the Professor Azur, the novel explores, deeply, the concept of God, religion, faith, belief. A family with a revolutionary brother, a cynical, liberalist father, and a passionately conservative mother – Peri feels marooned within the walls of her own home – people poles apart, somehow co-existing together. Living in a world where every breath comes with contradiction, her only one-way ticket out is Oxford.
Graduating at the top of her class, Peri makes it to the college of her dreams. With little denial on account of her mother, but mostly aided by her father’s passionate fervor, she packs up and leaves. Upon moving in, and settling down, she quickly becomes friends with the iconic duo –Shirin and Mona. Shirin, a girl of Iranian descent, heartily candid, fiercely ardent and Mona, subdued, religious, and quiet. Peri subsists the balance between fire and ice, juggling back and forth between the two. Further onwards, she stumbles upon Azur’s seminar on God. Once through with the quirky interview the Professor conducts to analyze Peri’s eligibility for the course, she gets accepted, and from there on forth, we see a strange, labored relationship develop between the two. A tale full of jealousy, misconceptions, and tragedy.
Coming to what makes this story so unlike any other – God. God explored by a Muslim, and a woman to top it all off; paired with a complete lack of idiomatic prose, yet consistently aligned with what is politically correct. Peri the Confused, Shirin the Sinner, and Mona the Believer; the storyline will merge almost poetically to show all can be one.
“The less we know about God, the harder it is for us to simply say, ‘I don’t know’”.
Through Peri, and the Seminar on God, we gain a whole new perspective on life, forcing us to push our limits, and think. Portraying God – not as we know him – but as He really Is. Setting aside idealistic methods and every single definition known to man; whether it be Jesus, a monastery, or a temple. Only then can we come closer to knowing God – when we accept that we do not know. When we refuse to let birth, family, and descent dictate what we think and feel of Him. When we feel what is beyond us, the power we can grow to love, instead of being afraid, only then can we know God.
Ending on a cliffhanger, this book is an unstamped, uncensored letter to God, forcing you to ask every question you leave behind in the purgatory amidst faith and confusion. It will make you implore on thoughts, forbidden, yet leave you someone with a thirst to know more of what we unquestioningly accept, whether it comes to religion, society, or philosophy. Here’s to all the answers unsearched, vacant.
Ending with two of my favorite lines from the novel:
“The shape of life was a circle, and every point on that circle was at an equal distance from the center – whether one called that God or something else altogether.”
“In the sheltered bosom of faith, one found the answers by letting go of the questions; one advanced by surrendering.”