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Summary and Review: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

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The Island of Missing Trees

Set between Cyprus and London, The Island of Missing Trees is a gorgeously woven, deeply emotional book about love, loss, heritage, nature, and belonging.

URL: https://amzn.to/3O1VrD7

Author: Elif Shafak

Editor's Rating:
5
The Island of Missing Trees

Synopsis

“…if it’s love you’re after, or love you have lost, come to the fig, always the fig.”

Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees

It’s 1974 on the island of Cyprus, and two teenagers from opposite sides of a divided land meet at a taverna in the city they call home.

Hidden in a back room amongst garlands of garlic, chili peppers, and fragrant fresh herbs, Kostas and Defne fall deeply in love with each other, even though this is completely forbidden by their feuding families, neighbours, and cultures.

In the centre of the taverna, growing towards the light in a cavity in the roof, is a fig tree that witnesses everything. First, the couple’s hushed, happy meetings and eventually, their silent, surreptitious departures.

The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish.

Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. But as she seeks to detangle years of secrets, she does have one connection to the land of her ancestors: a Ficus Carica which is lovingly tended to in the back garden of their home.

Book review

Set between Cyprus and London, The Island of Missing Trees is a gorgeously woven, deeply emotional book about love, loss, heritage, nature, and belonging.

This was my first book by Elif Shafak, and I adored it. Although I found it a little slow to get started (especially the London chapters), once more of the backstory in Cyprus evolved, I wanted to soak in the novel’s beauty and elegance for as long as I could.

Also, this must be the first book I’ve ever read that features the perspective of a fig tree. It’s just so delicately and thoughtfully crafted.

Worth a read?

If you’re looking for a beautifully-written book that offers an emotional love story and an ode to nature while teaching you some history, I’d wholeheartedly recommend The Island of Missing Trees.

If you love books about trees, you should pick it up even faster.

What the critics say

Similar books to The Island of Missing Trees

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières is a similar book about war, separation, forbidden love, and the history and beauty of the Mediterranean.

Also, like The Overstory by Richard Powers, this book makes it difficult to look at the trees around you in the same way.

For more books like The Island of Missing Trees, you might also like my lists of books about trees, beautifully written books, and books to remind you of the beauty of life.

Book excerpt

Read the first pages of The Island of Missing Trees. Or, see the book on Amazon.

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