Top positive review
Great storytelling with colourful characters and locations
on 11 October 2017
This sweeping story takes us from traditional Kurdish beginnings in rural Turkey in the 1950s, through to life in the east end of London in the 1970s, and onwards to Shrewsbury prison in the 1990s. We know right from the beginning that here has been a so-called honour killing - a woman is dead, a son is in prison. The book makes no bones about the often cruel and misogynistic ways in which some Turkish men treat women, but the females (and a few of the men) in this story are resilient, funny and strong so it is not a depressing read overall.
Elif Shafak writes with sensory details that bring the time and place alive for the reader. She deals with big issues such as gender inequality, conflicts between generations, and immigrant life, but these all naturally become part of a big, panoramic story. Along the way we pick up knowledge about Turkish and Kurdish history, which is so important in understanding modern Turkey with its tensions between religion and secularism, city and country, east and west.There is humour as well as tragedy: some scenes and phrases make you laugh out loud. Above all Shafak is a great storyteller so the book is a real page turner. All the members of my wife's book group enjoyed reading it, with some reservations about the big secret revealed towards the end....... We are looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.