As fellow book lovers, we’re sure you’ve heard about Reese Witherspoon’s book club. If you haven’t, every month the beloved actress chooses a title that features a woman at the centre of the story for her book club to read and discuss. This month, her book of choice was Elif Shafak’s incredible “The Island of Missing Trees”.
In this story, a taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne, a Greek and Turkish Cypriot, can meet in secret. This taverna is hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the roof, a fig tree. The fig tree witnesses their hushed meetings and is there when war breaks out, causing the teenagers to vanish.
Decades later, Kostas returns – a botanist, looking for native species – looking, really, for Defne. The two lovers return to the taverna to take a clipping from the fig tree and smuggle it into their suitcase, bound for London. Years later, the fig tree in the garden is their daughter Ada’s only knowledge of a home she has never visited, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets and silence and find her place in the world.
All in all, “The Island of Missing Trees” is an epic, magical tale of belonging, identity, memory, trauma, and exile. Partially narrated by a fig tree, this creative and beautifully told story not only illuminates the deep love felt between the characters, but also reveals the traumatic and violent history of Cyprus. Shafak evokes beautiful imagery throughout the book with her evocative writing, adding to the wonderful story. This title demands to be read.
To order “The Island of Missing Trees” by Elif Shafak, you can visit the QBD Books website or your local QBD Books store!