Peri, a married, wealthy, beautiful Turkish woman, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground—an old Polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past—and a love—Peri had tried desperately to forget.
Three Daughters of Eve is set over an evening in contemporary Istanbul, as Peri arrives at the party and navigates the tensions that simmer in this crossroads country between East and West, religious and secular, rich and poor. Over the course of the dinner, and amidst an opulence that is surely ill begotten, terrorist attacks occur across the city. Competing in Peri's mind, however, are the memories invoked by her almost-lost Polaroid, of the time years earlier when she was sent abroad for the first time, to attend Oxford University. As a young woman there, she had become friends with the charming, adventurous Shirin, a fully assimilated Iranian girl, and Mona, a devout Egyptian American. Their arguments about Islam and feminism find focus in the charismatic but controversial Professor Azur, who teaches divinity, but in unorthodox ways. As the terrorist attacks come ever closer, Peri is moved to recall the scandal that tore them all apart.
Three Daughters of Eve is a rich and moving story that humanizes and personalizes one of the most profound sea changes of the modern world.
"Elif Shafak's new novel reveals such a timely confluence of today's issues that it seems almost clairvoyant . . . There are novels you want to cherish in the sanctity of your own adoration, and then there are novels you feel impatient to talk about with others. Press Three Daughters of Eve on a friend or your book club for a great conversation about this flammable era we live in now."—The Washington Post
"Turkey's best-known female novelist, Elif Shafak, has been building a body of work that needles her country's historical amnesia . . . The ways in which an unresolved past can fuel present-day tensions is the subject of Shafak's vivid and timely eighth novel."—Vogue
"Safak is one of Turkey's most popular novelists, and her fiction and nonfiction has been translated around the world. Three Daughters of Eve, her 10th novel, takes place in contemporary Istanbul, but looks back on an earlier era, as Peri, a wealthy housewife, recalls her friendship with two fellow students at Oxford University. Together, these three young women became close through their studies, debating the role of women in Islam, and falling under the influence of a charismatic but controversial professor. The scandal that broke them apart still haunts Peri."—The Millions
"Rich and complex . . . Shafak explores themes of femininity and spirituality and extremism and political oppression in a way that feels thoughtful and refreshing."—Harpers Bazaar
"This is a truly modern novel--about the way we are shaped by politics, including freedom of expression and political repression, but also by our personal relationships."—Sadiq Khan, Financial Times
"Shafaq has masterfully created equally lush portraits of warm and complicated Istanbul and cold and collected Oxford . . . Three Daughters of Eve is a marvelous lesson in multiculturalist angst, the clash between modernity and tradition, and the vicissitudes of personal struggle. A must-read that entertains and informs without preaching."—New York Journal of Books
"[Shafak's] portrait of a woman in existential crisis feels universal, shining clarifying light on Islam—and religious spirituality in general—within the frame of today's world."—Kirkus Reviews
"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."—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"Turkish author Shafak uses rich, thought-provoking prose to illuminate women's struggles and fuse Islam with feminist theory. Like her compatriot Orhan Pamuk, Shafak illustrates the ongoing fissure between Eastern and Western culture in Turkey."—Library Journal