Three Daughters of Eve

Turkish novelist Elif Shafak (Honor) tells the story of Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife, through vivid dual timelines in Three Daughters of Eve. On her way to a dinner party in Istanbul, Peri has her handbag stolen. Fighting with the thief to recover her property, an old photo emerges from her wallet: a shot from her time as a student at Oxford University, of herself, two other young women and the enigmatic professor who fascinated them all. As Peri drives to her dinner engagement, she is caught in a swirl of memories triggered by the photo: not only her years in Oxford, but her childhood in Istanbul.

As a teenager, Peri is caught between her mother's religious fervor and her father's defiant secularism. At Oxford, she becomes attracted to her teacher, the charismatic but difficult Professor Azur, who delights in provoking his students. She is pulled between Shirin, a fun-loving, foul-mouthed, liberated British transplant from Iran, and Mona, a devout and passionate Egyptian American. When the three girls agree to share a house, their arguments about faith and feminism grow ever more intense, and Peri wonders if it was all a ploy set up by Azur.

The present-day narrative in Istanbul allows Peri to view her past actions from a distance, though the plot device of a terrorist attack in the city seems oddly irrelevant. However, Shafak deftly captures Peri's struggles with faith, her attempts to please the people she loves and her ongoing attempts at "the art of feigning happiness." --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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