THE ISLAND OF THE MISSING TREES BY ELIF SHAFAK (BOOK REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATION)

Today I shall review The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. I was actually gifted this book. What a wonderful present it proved to be! Published in 2021, this postmodern  novel  follows two  story lines and uses framed narration. The Island of Missing Trees tells the life story of a Greek Turkish couple and their adolescent daughter. This novel examines and explores a number of topics such as identity, migration, immigrant life, war trauma, memory, love and family. It's an ambitious novel that examines serious topics with due respect and sensitivity. I read it months ago, but I remember it vividly. Honestly, I cried a lot while reading this novel. It really moved me greatly. In fact, that is probably why it took me this long to finish this book review. I needed to emotionally process the story.

 The Island of Missing Trees is set in London and Cyprus. The narration isn't chronologicalThe story jumps back and forth, following two main timelines, one set in modern time London (approximately year 2010) and the other during the civil war on Cyprus. So, one story line follows a young girl (the daughter of the couple in question), and the other ( focusing on the couple living on island Cyprus) is set mainly in the seventies. Through it all, there's the narrative voice of the fig tree. The fig tree in question was replanted to London from Cyprus. 

If the idea of a talking fig tree sounds odd to you, then you haven't read much magical realism. If you're new to magical realism, it's basically a literary style that features fantastical elements in otherwise realistic narrative. Yes, the style of writing in The Island of Missing Trees can be described as magical realism. Moreover, The Island of Missing Trees can be compared to works of Orhan Pamuk, Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende and Salman Rusdie.  I do like magic realism, so I enjoyed those fantastical elements. 

THE FRAMED NARRATIVE - WHERE DOES THE STORY BEGIN?

I think the framed narrative worked really well in this novel that emphasizes the fact that life doesn't have a clear beginning or end.  I didn't find the narrative jumps confusing at all, but than again, I usually don't. Somehow the nonlinear narrative functions perfectly in this one because it turns novel almost in a mystery, making the reader wonder what really happened. Often I felt a little bewildered as a reader. While I was trying to make the sense of things, I found myself more emotionally attached to this story. So, I think Elif Shafak was really clever with how she went about writing this one. 

“Where do you start someone's story when life has more then one thread and what we call birth is not the only beginning, nor is death exactly an end.”

Shafak states that in life stories come to us in bits and pieces. So, that is the way she presents this story to us. The writer feeds us information about her characters slowly and partially. Her writing is often very poetical and lyrical. Elif Shafak does wonders with her botanical metaphors. As Aristotle famously said: "...the greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances.” 

I do think that Aristotle would have enjoyed the following metaphor if he had the chance to read it: 

 

“Because in real life, unlike in history books, stories come to us not in their entirety but in bits and pieces, broken segments and partial echoes, a full sentence here, a fragment there, a clue hidden in between. in life, unlike in books, we have to weave our stories out of threads as fine as the gossamer veins that run through a butterfly's wings.”

STORIES COME TO US IN BITS AND PIECES BUT THEY ARE WORTH THE WAIT

I loved this quote. It made me realize that in order to really understand a story we need to be patient. A good story is worth the wait. In addition, I loved how inter-textual this novel was. By examining  our human need for stories and reflecting what storytelling is all about, the writer makes us ponder the novel itself. 

THERE IS SOMETHING CHILDLIKE IN OUR NEED FOR STORIES

“There was something childlike in the way grown-ups had a need for stories. They held a naive belief that by telling an inspiring anecdote-the right fable at the right time-they could lift their children's moods, motivate them to great achievements and simply change reality. There was no point in telling them that life was more complicated than that and words less magical than they presumed.”

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE ISLAND OF THE MISSING TREES!

TO WHOM IS THE NOVEL DEDICATED?  DEDICATION TO MIGRANTS AND TREES

This novel opens with a dedication to migrants/ immigrants and trees they left behind. What do the trees symbolize? Perhaps the immigrants themselves. Trees planted in another climate/culture can be a metaphor for immigrant who have to adopt to survive in another country or place. Moreover, the trees can symbolize roots, lore, life, wisdom and so on.

“To immigrants and exiles everywhere,
the uprooted, the re-rooted, the rootless,
And to the trees we left behind,
rooted in our memories ...”



“I’ve been thinking that you are my country. Is that a strange thing to say? Without you, I don’t have a home in this world; I am a felled tree, my roots severed all round; you can topple me with the touch of a finger.”


WHOM DOES THE WRITER QUOTE IN THE BEGINNING OF THE NOVEL? 

Elif Shafak cites Pablo Neruda's Memoirs  and William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Very appropriate, I would say, for she writers as poetically and wisely as Neruda and Shakespeare. 

What is the opening chapter of THE ISLAND OF THE MISSING TREES like?


The novel’s opening chapter is titled -the island. We will learn that it means one island- Cyprus. Indeed, Cyprus is almost like a character in this novel. The opening lines tell us legends about Cyprus. The narrative voice reestablishes that legends tell us what history books have forgotten. So, is this a story that the history books have omitted? A more human but not necessarily less factual tale?


Is this claim about legends a reference to a Greek philosopher Aristotle that claimed in his Poetics that poetry is more true than history? Aristotle suggested that poetry (i.e) literature is more serious because it examines life from a wider perspective. According to Aristotle, literature is more trustworthy because it doesn't serve political aims but artistic ones. Aristotle said: “Poetry utters universal truths, history particular statements.” In this sense, this novel is really poetry (i.e literature) because it examines universal truths and our humanity. It dives into the soul of its character and invites us along.


The Island of Missing Trees examines things beyond the harsh realities of life, but admits how deep the scarves left by life are. Early in the novel (i.e in the first chapter), it is said that cartography is another name for stories told by winners. What is literature then? Is it about the stories of those who have lost? Is this novel  about loss? In some way, it is. The Island of Missing Trees is anti-war prose in the sense that it emphasizes how traumatic and horrible war isWhen it comes to trauma in war, there are no winners. Everyone is traumatized by war.

THE FIRST CHAPTER SPEAKS OF THE ISLAND AND ITS CARTOGRAPHY

STORIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE LOST AND THOSE WHO HAVE WON

“A map is a two-dimensional representation with arbitrary symbols and incised lines that decide who is to be our enemy and who is to be our friend, who deserves our love and who deserves our hatred and who, our sheer indifference. Cartography is another name for stories told by winners. For stories told by those who have lost, there isn’t one.”

The novel doesn't immediately reveal its lyrical and dreamy quality in the first chapter, but it hints of it. The initial narrative tone seems rational but not without emotion. As a reader, I could still feel emotion beneath the words in the first paragraphs. As the first chapter progresses, the lyrical writing becomes more obvious. 


“Humans, especially the victors who hold the pen that writes the annals of history, have a penchant for erasing as much as documenting.”



Welcome to the no man's land, the Shafak writes, as she shows us divided Cyprus with patrolling UN forces. Could it be argued that the opening chapter has a fair amount of foreshadowing? Yes, indeed. The author hints at secrets to be revealed and compares time with a songbird in his hauntingly beautiful passage:


“Time is a songbird, and just like any other songbird it can be taken captive. It can be held prisoner in a cage and for even longer than you might think possible. But time cannot be kept in check in perpetuity. No captivity is forever.”





THE FIRST CHAPTER INTRODUCES US TO THE STORY OF TWO CORPSES

After presenting legends about the islands and reflecting on cartography, the author tells us about the island, contrasting the beautiful beaches with barb wires. The realistic descriptions are then replaced by dreamy passages than are in turn replaced with an image of two corpses in a well. It is said their secret will be revealed. As you progress through the novel, you  will learn what Shafak means by this. These two corpses play an important part in this book. This gives the novel an aspect of murder mystery and brings to mind My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, a novel that I have recently reviewed.  It is also not accidental that I have chosen the same location for my photography session- Buna recreational area There are many beautiful trees, plants and birds here. Moreover, something about Buna feels as magical as this novel. Take a look at this wonderful quote:


“The glint does not come from a living being, but from an antique pocket watch - eighteen-carat gold encased with mother of pearl, engraved with the lines from a poem:

"Arriving there is what you are destined for,
But do not hurry the journey at all..."

And there on the back are two letters, or more precisely, the same letter written twice:

Y & Y”



In the novel’s opening chapter, the author shares a great deal about what the novel is ultimately about. We get to understand that it is going to be a complex work of literature. What follows is the first part of the book and introduction to a girl called an island, that is, Ada Kazantzanis.



THE FIRST PART OF THE BOOK: HOW TO BURY A TREE?

The chapter that comes after that title is: A Girl Called an Island. In this chapter we are introduced to the daughter of the protagonists of the novel: Ada Kazantzanis. This sixteen year old girl is sitting quietly as she seems to be listening to a history class in Brook Hill school in North London. However, her mind is anything but quiet. Ada wonders why she was never taken to Cyprus, remembers the life before her mother's death, reflects on the fact that her Greek father, an evolutionary biologist, is so different from other fathers. When Ada is asked some questions about her family background by her teacher, her inner turmoil explodes and she screams an inhuman scream. The scream lasts for almost a whole minute and scares both the teacher and Ada's classmates.


Why did Ada scream? Well, there are many reasons. Ada's mother Defne is dead, her father Kostas buries himself in his work and becomes more and more estranges, she is oblivious to what is going on with the rest of her family and doesn't understand why she has never met them. Her parents were silent on many topics and this makes Ada feel more isolated. There's such a thing as inherited trauma. A daughter of immigrants, Ada feels isolated at her school. Moreover, she doesn't have ties to her culture. In many ways, Ada is an island. She lives in London, but doesn't feel a Londoner. She doesn't know much about the past of her parents. Her scream is a scream of pain, isolation and grief. She loves her parents but she doesn't understand them and the opposite is often true. The following quote focuses on Kostas need to assume a normality. Kostas isn't a distant parent intentionally, he is a man broken apart by the death of his wife:


PARENTS DESPERATELY NEED THINGS TO RUN SMOOTHLY


“Parents, especially those as distracted as her father, desperately needed things to run smoothly and were so inclined to believe the system they had created was working fine that they assumed a normality even when surrounded by clues to the contrary.”


One thing I loved about this novel is that it avoids judgement. The writer doesn't judge Ada for screaming nor her father for being absent. The book understand that life is hard. It understands how family trauma works. It understands that we cannot silence away our pains. 


“Sometimes family trauma skips a generation altogether and redoubles its hold on the following one. You may encounter grandchildren who silently shoulder the hurts and sufferings of their grandparents.”


Is Ada's immigrant background important? Yes, it most certainly is. It is important for understanding both Ada and her parents. Much of this novel is Ada's pursuit into the past of her parents and family. In order for her to heal, words need to be spoken. The author has done a great job presenting Ada to the reader. She's a confused and hurt adolescent, but also a strong one. Her scream is the start of her journey. As Ada tries to make sense of things, she examines her immigrant family roots.


“People from troubled islands can never be normal. We can pretend, we can even make amazing progress – but we can never really learn to feel safe. The ground that feels rock hard to others is choppy waters for our kind.”


In its exploration of identity, this novel reminded me of novels by Amy Tan such as The Kitchen's God Wife and The Joy Luck Club.   Like this novel, Tan's novels are written from a feminine immigrant perspective. Tan's focus on the dynamics of an American Chinese family, more precisely on the relationship between a mother and a daughter.  Elif Shafak explores dynamics of a British Greek and Turkish family, but like with Tan, the focus is often on the mother daughter relationship. 


THIS IS WHAT MIGRATIONS AND RELOCATION DO TO US


“.....that is what migrations and relocations do to us: when you leave your home for unknown shores, you don’t simply carry on as before; a part of you dies inside so that another part can start all over again.



“A fig is not exactly a fruit, you see. It is a synconium – a fascinating structure that hides flowers and seeds in its cavity, with a barely visible opening through which wasps can enter and deposit their pollen. And sometimes, seizing the opportunity, ants, too, crawl through that opening and eat what they can.”


 The next chapter not only focuses on the fig tree, it is narrated by it. This fig tree is almost a character in the novel. It seems to posses a soul of its own. On the other hand, it often contrasts its plant nature with human nature. “But if you are going to claim, as humans do, to be superior to all life forms, past and present, then you must gain an understanding of the oldest living organisms on earth who were here long before you arrived and will still be here after you have gone.”

THE TREE AS A NARRATOR

The narration mostly switches between the main characters but some parts of the novel are narrated from the point of  a view of a family fig tree. Not just any fig tree, though. A Mediterranean fig tree that is fighting for survival in the colder British climate. Like the characters in the novel, the tree is a migrant. 

“When you are in trouble or at your lowest point, and have no one in whom to confide, a hawthorn would be the right choice. There is a reason why hawthorns are home to fairies and known to protect pots of treasure. For wisdom, try a beech; for intelligence, a pine; for bravery, a rowan; for generosity, a hazel; for joy, a juniper; and for when you need to learn to let go of what you cannot control, a birch with its white-silver bark, peeling and shedding layers like old skin. Then again, if it's love you're after, or love you have lost, come to the fig, always the fig.”


TREES ARE NEVER LONELY

“I wish I could have told him that loneliness is a human invention. Trees are never lonely. Humans think they know with certainty where there being ends and someone else's starts. With there roots tangled and caught up underground, linked to fungi and bacteria, trees harbour no such illusions. For us, everything is interconnected.”

Why is the fig tree so important?

 Well, it is not only the narrator, but the part of the plot and a key witness in the murder case. The tree is question is actually a cutting was taken by Kostas many years ago. However, this cutting retains all of its original memories- and it's a very old fig tree. Kostas plants the cutting in his and Defne's English garden so that the cutting becomes a part of their story. 

What is Kostas and Defne story about? It's first and foremost a story of love. However, it is also a story of loss, death, isolation, war, trauma, abandonment and depression. Through the story, the fig tree shows us insight into their relationship and past. The fig tree feels both human and inhuman at the same time. It gives us arguments that a tree could give, it judges the actions of humans and views from a botanic perspective, yet at the same time, it seems to posses a bleeding human heart. 

“I believe one reason why humans find it hard to understand plants is because, in order to connect with something other than themselves and genuinely care about it, they need to interact with a face, an image that mirrors theirs as closely as possible.”

“I’ve been thinking that you are my country. Is that a strange thing to say? Without you, I don’t have a home in this world; I am a felled tree, my roots severed all round; you can topple me with the touch of a finger.”

TREES AND FAMILY 

“What I meant was, some people stand in front of a tree and the first thing they notice is the trunk. These are the ones who prioritize order, safety, rules, continuity. Then there are those who pick out the branches before anything else. They yearn for change, a sense of freedom. And then there are those who are drawn to the roots, though concealed under the ground. They have a deep emotional attachment to their heritage, identity, traditions …”

“If families resemble trees, as they say, arborescent structures with entangled roots and individual branches jutting out at awkward angles, family traumas are like thick, translucent resin dripping from a cut in the bark. They trickle down generations.”

“They ooze down slowly, a flow so slight as to be imperceptible, moving across time and space, until they find a crack in which to settle and coagulate. The path of an inherited trauma is random; you never know who might get it, but someone will.”


WHAT ARE THE KEY STORIES IN THE OF THE MISSING TREES BY ELIF SHAFAK?

Ada's story can be viewed as the central one because she seems to be the protagonist of the novel.

However, I think that Kostas and Defne's story is just as important.

We meet Ada as tries to deal  with the loss of her mother. 

Ada's grief for the loss of her mother is tremendous because she feels isolated in her grieving.

Thus begins Ada's search for answers and her exploration of her cultural and national identity and  history.

“Did subsequent generations ineluctably start where previous ones had given up, absorbing all of their disappointments and unfulfilled dreams? Was the present moment a mere continuation of the past, every word an afterword to what had already been said or left unsaid?”

Ada learns parts of her family history through her aunt Meryem's visit and her retelling of her parents' love story. 

This troubled love story is the origin story for Ada.

As the novel travels into the past, it focuses on Defne and Kostas, living on Cyprus in the seventies.


“Love is the bold affirmation of hope. You don't embrace hope when death and destruction are in command. You don't put on your best dress and tuck a flower in your hair when you are surrounded by ruins and shards. You don't lose your heart at a time when hearts are supposed to remain sealed, especially for those who are not of your religion, not of your language, not of your blood. You don't fall in love in Cyprus in the summer of 1974. Not here, not now. And yet there they were, the two of them.”


HOW DO DEFNE AND KOSTAS FALL IN LOVE?

They fall in love quickly and profoundly, despite the troubled setting and the war on horizon. 


Love is not meant to be rational, but their love is especially dangerous. The killings have already started. 

Defne, who is eighteen, becomes the lover of seventeen year old Kosta.  

 Defne and Kostas are two different young people, not just by background but by nature. 

Defne is described as strong, brave and independent, while Kostas is described as a dreamy, sensitive and caring young man. Obviously, the opposites attract because they fall madly in love with one another.

However,  falling in love on a divided island is a desperately dangerous action. 

“Not a very sensible thing to do, I admit, to fall for someone who is not of your kind, someone who will only complicate your life, disrupt your routine and mess with your sense of stability and rootedness. But, then again, anyone who expects love to be sensible has perhaps never loved.”


WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THEY FALL IN LOVE? 

Theri love is intense, but trouble is on horizont. Kostas' brothers are all killed or missing, so his bother begs him to go to visit his uncle in London. 

“At night, when the moon shone high above the lemon trees and there was a shiver in the air, of insects invisible to the eye or fairies sent to exile, Kostas would sometimes catch his mother staring at him with a pained expression....”

Kostas hasn't got the strength to say no to his broken mother. However, as soon as he arrives to London, the war breaks out in Cyprus and he is trapped there. 

So, Kostas lived at  his uncle's place, dreaming of a return, whilst Defne is left behind.

Both of them are heart-broken but what can they do?  

ALWAYS AIM FOR THE PROFOUND LOVE

There is no doubt that their love is strong, but can they survive the separation?

“You see, there are two kinds: the surface and the deep water. Now, Aphrodite emerged from foam, remember? Foam love is a nice feeling, but just as superficial. When it’s gone, it’s gone, nothing remains. Always aim for the kind of love that comes from the deep.”

MERYEM'S ARRIVAL UNLOCKS THE  SECRETS

When Meryem, late Defne's sister, comes to visit, Ada meets a family member for the first time. Meryem embraces Ada with all the love of a devoted aunt and eases her loneliness. Ada observes that her Turkish aunt is very possessive when it comes to cuisine. While she is a liberal person otherwise, Meyrem is very tyrannical when it comes to coking, appropriating only the Turkish cuisine. I found his humanizing detail about Meyrem very endearing

AS FAR AS MEYREM WAS CONCERNED...... QUOTE


“As far as Meryem was concerned, Greek baklava was Turkish baklava. And if the Syrians or Lebanese or Egyptians or Jordanians or any others lay claim to her beloved dessert, tough luck. It wasn’t theirs either. While the slightest change in her dietary vocabulary could rub her up the wrong way, it was the label Greek coffee that particularly boiled her blood. Which to her always was and always would be, Turkish coffee. By now, Ada had long discovered that her aunt was full of contradictions. Although she could be movingly respectful and empathetic towards other cultures and acutely aware of the dangers of cultural animosities, she automatically transformed into a kind of nationalist in the kitchen, a culinary patriot.”

With Meyrem's visit, Ada starts to realize to what lengts her parents had to go to be able to reunite one with another... She realizes that a life together meant abandoning their families....

“So I guess it is in my genes, this melancholy I can never quite shake off. Carved with an invisible knife into my arborescent skin.”

“It is a map, the body of an ex-lover, pulling you into its depths and bringing you back to a part of yourself that you thought had been left behind sometime, somewhere. It is a mirror too, though, chipped and cracked, showing all the ways you have changed; and, like every mirror, it dreams of becoming whole again.”


MORE MEMORABLE QUOTES

THE LIFE BENEATH

“Life below the surface is neither simple nor monotonous. The subterranean, contrary to what most people think, is bustling with activity. As you tunnel deep down, you might be surprised to see the soil take on unexpected shades. Rusty red, soft peach, warm mustard, lime green, rich turquoise … Humans teach their children to paint the earth in one colour alone. They imagine the sky in blue, the grass in green, the sun in yellow and the earth entirely in brown.”

THE WORLD IS UNFAIR

“The world is unfair, said Meryem. "If a stone falls on an egg, it is bad for the egg; if an egg falls on a stone, it is still bad for the egg.”

“Wherever there is a war and painful partition, there will be no winners, human or otherwise.”

“Listen, canim, I know you might get cross with me for saying this, but remember, good advice is always annoying and bad advice never is. So if what I say irritates you, take it as good advice.”

“But not everyone needs to be a warrior, my dear. Otherwise we’d never have poets, artists, scientists …’ ‘I disagree,’ said Defne into her wine glass. ‘There are moments in life when everyone has to become a warrior of some kind. If you are a poet, you fight with your words; if you are an artist, you fight with your paintings … But you can’t say, “Sorry, I’m a poet, I’ll pass.” You don’t say that when there’s so much suffering, inequality, injustice.”


THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PESSIMIST AND AN OPTIMIST

“People assume it’s a matter of personality, the difference between optimists and pessimists. But I believe it all comes down to an inability to forget. The greater your powers of retention, the slimmer your chances at optimism.”

GRIEF IS A LANGUAGE

“You don't share a language, you think, and then you realise, grief is a language. We understand each other, people with troubled pasts.”

“She could detect other people’s sadnesses the way one animal could smell another of its kind a mile away.”

“Wisdom consists of ten parts: nine parts of silence, one part of words.”

CAN PAIN BE USEFUL?

“Some day this pain will be useful to you.”

“She was no part of anything. In her unbroken loneliness, she was complete. Never had she felt so exposed, yet so powerful.”

DEPRESSION

“He knew, even back then, that she was prone to bouts of melancholy. It came to her in successive waves, an ebb and flow. When the first wave arrived, barely touching her toes, it was so light and translucent a ripple that you might be forgiven for thinking it insignificant, that it would vanish soon, leaving no trace. But then followed another wave, and the next one, rising as far as her ankles, and the one after that covering her knees, and before you knew it she was immersed in liquid pain, up to her neck, drowning. That's how depression sucked her in.”

“Throughout my long life, I have observed, again and again, this psychological pendulum that drives human nature. Every few decades they sway into a zone of unbridled optimism and insist on seeing everything through a rosy filter, only to be challenged and shaken by events and catapulted back into their habitual apathy and listless indifference.”

WHAT IS A MEMORY- A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

“When elderly Cypriot women wish ill on someone, they don't ask for anything blatantly bad to befall them. They don't pray for lightning bolts, unforseen accidents or sudden reversals of fortune. They simply say,
May you never be able to forget.
May you go to your grave still remembering.”



FINALLY A NOVEL THAT TREATS SERIOUS TOPICS WITH RESPECT

I don't want to include spoilers in my review, so I won't discuss what happens in the novel. I will say, however, that the plot is anything but predictive. There are surprises along the way and not the kind you would always expect. I found the story to be ultimately tragic but also very realistic and human in its tragedy. It's a sad and heart-breaking story in many way, but it does end on an optimistic note. 
“I’ll come to the island,’ Ada said, a new note in her voice. ‘I just want to meet islanders, like myself.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak is a magically written and deeply touching novel. While it deals with some extremely difficult topics, it does so wisely. I immensely enjoyed it and I'm confident I'll reread it some day- and perhaps even write another review!



“Truth is a rhizome – an underground plant stem with lateral shoots. You need to dig deep to reach it and, once unearthed, you have to treat it with respect.”








MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist. She has published 19 books, 12 of which are novels, including her latest The Island of Missing Trees, shortlisted for the Costa  Award, RSL Ondaatje Prize and Women’s Prize for Fiction. She is a bestselling author in many countries around the world and her work has been translated into 56 languages. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize; and was Blackwell’s Book of the Year. The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by BBC among the 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. The Architect’s Apprentice was chosen for the Duchess of Cornwall’s inaugural book club, The Reading Room. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow. She also holds a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bard College. Shafak is a Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature and has been chosen among BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women. She is a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations).www.elifshafak.com






MORE MAGIC REALISM READING RECOMMENDATIONS THAT MADE ME THINK OF THIS NOVEL

BLACKBERRY WINE BY J.HARRIS

One thing that connects Joan's novel BLACKBERRY WINE  with THE ISLAND OF THE MISSING TREES is the love of plants. In fact both of these novels are simply perfect reads for anyone who has ever done any gardening. The love of trees and other plants really comes to life in both of them. Moreover, the authors really did their research. If you want to dive into botanic writing in fiction, these are the books for you!

This novel is another work of magic realism that made me think of this novel. One thing these two novels have in common is that they  focus on the theme of family a lot.

Again, a work of magic realism that examines memory, identity, love and family.

Another similar work of magic realism that examines identity, loneliness and being human.

This novel is quite focused on a love story ( quite an original love story, I might add) but it still paints a good picture of what growing up in this particular place and time must have felt like. In fact, this novel is quite autobiographical. I'm not sure in what extent Shafak's work is autobiographical, but there are definitely autobiographical elements. 






“If you weep for all the sorrows in this world, in the end you will have no eyes.”




Thank you for reading!

Comments

  1. What a wonderful book, with your fantastic photos :) Thanks for the recommendation Ivana, as always!

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  2. Interesting Review, the cover of the Book looks beautiful. Happy Weekend

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  3. Gracias por la reseña. Tomó nota. Te mando un beso. https://enamoradadelasletras.blogspot.com/

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  4. Such brilliant quotes from the book! Yes, I love how many of us have been uprooted and transplanted again..although, it's a topic we look over a lot. Fascinating, with the fig tree as a narator. My grandmother had a fig tree for many years, and it was so productive. She said it reminded her of her childhood. Her father was a migrant as well and it was always a mystery to me of where he came from. Of course, she would always insist, "We're American, that's all you will ever need to know." My point is, how things change through the decades. I am so glad the book moved you! Such an amazing review! And beautiful photos too!

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  5. Such a great start to your December Reviews! I think we have this one in our library. It does sound like an amazing story. I like how it gives such a vivid back story of the 70's too. Oh, I find myself crying to when a book moves me. Thanks so much for your amazing reviews. I love the plaid you are wearing too. All the best to a beautiful December.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this wonderful sounding book, Ivana! xxx

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  7. Thank you for sharing your review Ivana. This book sounds really interesting!

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  8. This was such a great review. I’m always looking for new books to add to my list. And this one sounds so interesting.
    https://www.bauchlefashion.com/2023/12/5-ways-to-wear-olive-oil-green-colour.html?spref=pi&m=1

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  9. Amazing photos! The book is very interesting :)

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  10. Amazing, inspired yoru sharing, really intersting

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  11. Your reviews and thoughts are so thorough, Ivana! I'm ashamed at my one-sentence reviews I jot down for the books I read! Love the pic of you with the ducks!

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  12. I've got this bookmarked for my ereader hoping it'll be on offer before too long. It looks and sounds right up my street.
    Love your outfit, that tartan shawl is very luxurious and cosy and your hair is looking amazing. xxx

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  13. Che bello questo libro. le foto sono fantastiche, in uno senario meraviglio e mi piace molto il tuo mix di stampe tartan!
    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hai fatto delle foto bellissime e vorrei leggere il libro! Mi piace il tuo mix di stampe tartan!
    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

    ReplyDelete
  15. A talking fig tree? Yes, please. This book sounds delightful; thanks for the description and recommendation. I also cry during reading/art when my emotions are triggered; nothing wrong with that. Lovely pictures, too.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow, it sounds a really intriguing book! I like the idea of Cyprus being like a person in this story and the fact that it moved you so much! I am intrigued to read it and will look out for it in the library!

    ReplyDelete

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All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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