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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize 2022

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

A top 10 Sunday Times best seller.

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2021.

A rich, magical new novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World.

Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, 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, happy meetings; their silent, surreptitious departures. The fig tree is there, too, when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, when the teenagers 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.

The Island of Missing Trees is a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature and renewal, from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World.

©2021 Elif Shafak (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"What a wonderful read! This book moved me to tears...in the best way. Powerful and poignant." (Reese Witherspoon)

"One of the best writers in the world today." (Hanif Kureishi)

"Shafak makes a new home for us in words." (Colum McCann)

What listeners say about The Island of Missing Trees

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    3 out of 5 stars

Narrators are horrible

I’m sorry to leave such a bad review but the narrators completely ruined my experience with this book. Especially the one who narrated the fig tree- her accent was so awful that I kept missing some words and not understanding what she meant (and I’m half Turkish half Greek). Her pronunciations were almost always wrong and there were weird silences after some sentences which really messed up with my concentration. What was that about?
The other narrator was also poor. She was too upbeat and hyper most of the time which doesn’t suit this story. And her Turkish accent is so funny and again-completely wrong. The way that she “interpreted” Meryem’s or Defne’s voices are so wrong that I can’t honestly think of a reason why she uses that particular voice. When doing accents please either choose people who actually know and/or use that accent or don’t use any accent at all. Otherwise it completely ruins the book for people from that cultures. I listen to audiobooks all the time and most of the time I really like them. But this one was horrible. I mean the way they pronounced Turkish words really made it unlistenable for me.

11 people found this helpful

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Ill-judged, disdainful choice of accent

A beautiful book, spoiled for me by the performance. The book is all about identity and more specifically about Cypriot identity. So, why does the Greek-Cypriot speak English with the accent of someone from a different country--Greece (mainland)? The accents are entirely different. (It's like having an Irishman or American speak French with the accent of an English public-schoolboy.) In my view, it's disdainful not to use minimum effort to find this out, or (perhaps having found this out) not to care. Another reviewer has written about Turkish-Cypriot accents, so no comment on those.
(I also note that Elif has chosen to call the characters Greek or Turkish, rather than Greek-Cypriot or Turkish-Cypriot, but that's for other discussion.)

7 people found this helpful

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  • KL
  • 28-10-21

exceeded my expectations

I was a bit sceptical about the idea of a fig tree narrator, fearing it might be twee. Not a bit. Really enjoyed this audiobook. I saw others criticised the accents but as a non speaker of Greek or Turkish this didn't bother me at all. I felt there was a good distinction between the characters and the narrators held my attention throughout. I learned a lot about Cyprus and a huge amount from the fig tree about nature ... even good home cleaning tips towards the end! I will definitely recommend this and have bought the book as a Christmas gift for a friend with a home on the island. I feel quite sad to be leaving Ada, Kostas and Mereyem ... perhaps the author will revisit them... I hope so!

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Wanted to enjoy…

But it was such a non -event. It was a struggle even to finish it. I really didn’t care. It was so predictable. The only engaging character was the Aunt. The narrators tried their best, but I just couldn’t feel the love. Very disappointing.

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Rooted in heartstrings

listened from start to finish without wanting it to end. It enchanted my mind cover to cover

5 people found this helpful

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Great Performance- Great Story

Wonderful performances by the narrators, especially the younger voice. So versatile with so many accents and characters.

Also the story really touched me. Constant search for identity at this day and age, is ro relevant and fresh at the same time. Highly recommend this audiobook, if you want to indulge yourself in a beautiful human story!

4 people found this helpful

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Wonderful story…

A wonderful story… beautifully read by Daphne and Amira… totally encapsulating. Well worth listening to!

3 people found this helpful

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A really beautiful novel brimming with history.

I really enjoyed this book. I learnt a whole lot about a different culture that endured a shockingly traumatic partition and the distressing after effects that it caused. It is so easy for humans to feel that they know what is best for a certain race/ethnic group (case in point - Afghanistan and Syria).
When really, all that is needed, is just some basic humanity.

3 people found this helpful

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A well narrated tale of love and loss.

An intensely emotional story of love, loss and reincarnation through nature. Quite slow in places but worth investing in for a comforting end.

2 people found this helpful

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original storyline and wonderful written.

I loved this book. from the mini love stories in between to the heartbreaking traumas that people had lived. My grandparents had lived through some of the emotions that had occurred and made me understand even more what lifestyle the island had.Maybe it's because I can relate to the food examples or the mix marriages or lovers that were developed within the two nations or even the love I have for the island, I don't know, but..
I will miss listening to this book. Perfectly creative outstanding story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Elena
  • 09-10-21

Amazing Audiobook!

Wonderful and magical amazing book the narration was so so good i recommend this book with all of my heart i love all books from Elif Shafak

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-09-21

Life

A beautiful story of love and life - a different perspective - tree given personality

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-05-22

New fan

A love story tenderly and sensitively told against the background of a cruel civil war that turned families and friends against each other. A tale of suffering and loss but also of redemption and triumph. The main protagonists represent both the divide and hope of Cyprus through their love and progeny.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-02-22

Expertly narrated

Loved the narration, but personally the book became hard to listed to because of the many different parralel storylines. Still a grwat fan of Elif Shafak.