Three Daughters follows three generations of spirited and unusual women. Miriam, Nadia and Nijmeh are Palestinian Christian mothers and daughters who experience huge social upheaval and change. They grow up, go to school, fall in love, get married, have kids. It’s a big book, faithfully retracing and recreating their lives with great patience.
Shame I didn’t have the patience for it though. It’s essentially three romance novels combined into one with too many outlandish plot twists (a baby surviving a plane crash in a desert, really?).
Saah Baehr was great when she showed how powerful tradition and ritual is in guiding and shaping the lives of these women, whether they like it or not. The beginning of the novel was especially strong for this; the rituals around food, household, community and daily existence within a wider cultural was evocative and impactful.
Later on in this lengthy tome, we get a bit less context, more crushes. The British mandate, religion, and the desert lifestyle were all things I wanted to hear more about, but instead they’re tacked on as clunky historical context, almost shorthand for ‘the world is changing’.
Romance aside, it is interesting to read about and explore the three different mother-daughter relationships. So hopefully next time more real-life events and fewer Mills and Boon encounters.
Read: the first half.