My first experience with Elif Shafak took the form of Three Daughters of Eve (2016) and left me somewhat disappointed. It is a well written book and I could easily recognise the author's talent and  her intelligent use of various narrative techniques, yet it could have been a splendid book had it not been for the few supernatural appearances, unrealistic experiences and some elements of the plot.
  It could have been a great book dealing with modern day problems like terrorism, religion and its place in the 21st century, feminism, Eastern and Western societies, democracy and so forth. Unfortunately, Shafak turned all these stringent problems into some sort of a classic professor-student love story.
  I could have happily written pages on feminism and motherhood; on how Peri evolved from a curious little girl who swore not to repeat her mother's mistakes into a brave, powerful and independent woman, who raised her three children in the spirit of feminism and globalization. I would have eagerly mentioned  Peri's promise to herself "not [to] live the life of her mother. She would not be inhibited, limited and reduced to something she was not". I would have bragged about a woman's power to overcome her condition, to surpass everyone's expectations, including hers, to succeed in a foreign land afraid of (Turkish) immigrants, to fight oppression and chauvinism. I would have proudly made Peri a spokesperson for Third World feminism.
  Sadly, Peri failed to become the woman of my imaginary essay on feminism. As her daughter comments, she chose to "drop out of Oxford, return to Istanbul, get married, give up your education, have three kids in a row and become a housewife. How original, bravo!" Through these choices, Peri proved her depressed and overly pious mother was right: "For Selma, Peri's education was less and intellectual awakening or the precursor to a promising career than a briefly interlude before her wedding."
  I loved Peri in the beginning of the novel. I loved her as she was chasing and fighting the thief that stole her purse. I loved her force and determination, as heedless as they were. But I ended up feeling disappointed. She lost all her dreams of being the only one in her family to graduate from college and of becoming a powerful woman with an important career. All because of her love for professor Azur. But, after all, isn't this what feminism is about?! Isn't feminism a woman's freedom to choose for herself?
  In short, the novel is an enjoyable book to read, yet it could have been better had it focused more on feminism, religion and Turkish society.

P.S. Alas, the open ending was so predictable!

* I received an advanced reading e-book copy from the publisher via NetGalley.


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