Elif Shafak is one of the most famous Turkish writers of our times. She writes both in Turkish and English, and has published 18 books, 11 of which are novels. However, it was only in December last year that I first heard about this amazing woman from my dear friend D.

Since then I read two books by Elif Shafak and also participated in a live event with her (read about it here). And oh boy, there’s so much more to discover through her stories!

Elif Shafak and her recent book: How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division

Three Daughters of Eve

First I read Three Daughters of Eve (2016). It tells the story of young Turkish woman, Peri, who studied at Oxford University. She is now living in Istanbul with her family.

The story alternates between her present life as middle-aged housewife, her childhood in Istanbul, and her time as a student in the UK.

A story about faith and uncertainty, education and friendship. It reminded me of the dark academia stories like The Secret History (my review) and The Truants (my review).


The Forty Rules of Love

The next book I read by Elif Shafak was The Forty Rules of Love (2009). It tells two stories in parallel:

  • a (historical fiction) story of a mystic friendship from the 13th century
  • an unusual love story from the 21st century

Both stories revolve around the concept of love, and there is a connection between them!

This story introduced me for the first time into the life of Persian poet Rumi and his companion Shams, from the 13th century. I hadn’t heard about the two people before, and neither about Sufism –  a mystical practice in Islam. It was a very educating read, while being captivating at the same time!


Similarities between Three Daughters of Eve & The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

After reading the two books I noticed some similarities between them, from a structure perspective:

  • Alternating timelines, jumping between present and past
  • Structured in relatively short chapters, thus the stories are very easy to follow
  • Each chapter starts with a mention of the place and time, it’s like the reader is taken by the hand and guided through time and space

I also noticed some similarities from a content perspective:

  • Featured middle-aged women, housewives, who feel trapped in the status quo
  • Religious beliefs were an important aspect in the characters’ lives
  • Turkey is a central aspect in both stories
The two books I read by Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve and The Forty Rules of Love. And a lovely postcard from Istanbul, from years ago.

Wrap-up and further reading

To conclude, I recommend reading both stories! They’re captivating and tackle a wide variety of topics, keeping at core religious beliefs and identity themes.

Next I’d love to read 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World and Honour by Elif Shafak. And of course, I’m looking forward to her new novel: The Island of Missing Trees!

Have you read any books by Elif Shafak? If yes, which one(s) would you recommend?

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana

2 thoughts on “Discovering Elif Shafak – Three Daughters of Eve and The Forty Rules of Love (book review)

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