#IsraelPalestineSeries: Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baerh | No. 1
I mentioned I wanted to start a series on Israel and Palestine in literature, films and other art because this is something I really enjoy. I think it will be an ongoing feature on this blog, and i've decided to kick this series off with the most recent book i've read as it's about Palestinian women: Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baerh.
Author: Consuelo Saah Baerh
Publisher: Self-Published Published: Nov 2014
Length: 720pp. | 23h 3mins (Audiobook)
I do not know where to start with this other than saying you must read this book - now. I listened to the audiobook because it was on offer for £3 on audible, and at 23 hours long this seemed like a bargain I couldn't over look and the fact it was about Palestinians sealed the deal. I bought it because it's so long and thought it would last me at least a month but I was so engrossed I zoomed through it in about 5 days.
I didn't really read the blurb, so I didn't know what to expect from the storyline at all, but this is the story of three generations of Palestinian Christian women from the late 19th Century to the mid 20th Century. I think on some level I just expected generations of pious women picking olives set against the backdrop of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but that was definitely not what I got. This book was so good I applauded when it finished, there's so much to say and I don't really know where to start with my praise.
This book was full of many plots and subplots but they were all easy to follow. I could not believe how many twists and turns this had, I also don't understand how these supposedly Christian women could live such immoral lives (in Jerusalem of all places!) and not even bat an eyelid. There are a few graphic sex scenes in this book, and i'm actually glad I didn't know that before I read it because it would have put me off reading it. If like me you don't like sex in books don't let that put you off reading this as all in all it plays a minor part in a very long book and adds to the dramatic scandals taking place.
With regards to Christianity, the Bible was rather badly quoted out of context at the start of chapter 27 which really grated on me, but aside from that I had no gripes with this book. It was such a pleasure to read, and I can't wait to re-read it.
I really loved the recurring themes in each generation. For example in each generation othe men end up raising a child that isn't theirs. I think it's funny how history repeats itself in a family, and in the case of this family it happens in such a unique way with each woman.
One of the main reasons I loved this book was because the Arab-Israeli conflict didn't really feature in the story. So many books you read about Israelis and Palestinians always revolve around the conflict and how people see themselves in light of the conflict and I hate that. I love that the lives of these women trumped the conflict in terms of the importance of what was being told. None of their lives are shaped by it, and I loved reading a Palestinian narrative that didn't revolve around conflict because there is so much more to the everyday lives of Palestinians than politics and conflict.
The Portrayal of Palestine
I loved that this was set over a period of around 70 years and I think the setting was well written in every time period. The land in this book was so idyllic, this book explored multiple areas from villages, to Jerusalem, to the desert, and is perhaps my favourite portrayal of the region in literature.
Consuelo Saah Baerh was born in El Salvador to French-Palestinian parents, from my research this book was traditionally published in the 80s but she has since self published along with many other books on Amazon Kindle.