Three Daughters of Eve – Elif Shafak

Spellbinding! the only way i can think of describing this book. It is discursive with attention paid to each digression. It was hard not to find myself thinking about multiple things all at once, while reading. The theological debate about existence of God, the religious question on what is right vs wrong, the social difference between rich and poor, the female – male predicament all adroitly woven into a tale that keeps the reader on their toes yearning for more.

Peri has a divided family – a father and a brother who are liberal in their thinking and a mother and a brother who are devout. She is the referee, so to say, neither a believer nor the one to doubt – somewhere in between. Her need to be the peace keeper develops her personality into a complicated, self critical and self doubtful being. At Oxford, she encounters multiple personalities and begins to discover herself away from her family and home. She finds herself attracted towards Professor Azur, who teaches “God” at the university, primarily because she feels he might have answers to the questions and confusions and uncertainties in her mind. Always neutral Peri takes one step in her life, which impacts everyone around her. The story is narrated alternately in past and present, where past is unforgotten and remorse colors the present.

In a way, its a simple book to read and yet poignant. There are theological questions raised, which makes a reader pause and look for/at their own beliefs. The cultural differences amongst east and west, known yet alien require questioning our perceptions – are the answers really that easy? or perhaps not?

“We can find our true selves only in the faces of the Other.”

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