The Forty Rules of Love Book Review
Author: Elif Shafak
Genre: Historical Fiction, Philosophy, Sufism, Romance
This is no ordinary week. Sun, Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn are all huddled together in the Zodiac sign of Capricorn. You obviously can’t see this heavenly spectacle because of Sun. But there is no way you’ll go without feeling the impact of it. I felt the impact through The Forty Rules of Love. The day I heard about this book, I knew someday I would read it, especially for two reasons. I love books with multiple stories, each belonging to different periods, intertwined and flowing mellifluously with each other. Secondly, I wanted to read it for Rumi’s story. I have come across quite a few quotes by Rumi. His quotes have a depth of an ocean and depict the love to ache for. A man must have a story to be able to write such moving words. And so, with the stars aligned right and my heart longing to be drenched in love, I picked up this book.
The Forty Rules of Love : Book Review
The plan was to read the book slowly and take my own sweet time. Lately, I had been acting too compulsively and addictively when it came to finishing a book I had started. This time, I had decided to not rush through it. Surely, I was being naive. Once you pick the book, you don’t get to decide the pace. Esp. when it comes to a book this enchanting and gripping.
The book has stories of Ella-Aziz and Shams-Rumi running in parallel. While Ella’s story will keep you hooked, Sham’s story will fascinate you. Sailing on the boat of Sufism, you’ll not only get to know the forty rules of love, but Shams’ stories/anecdotes from time to time will make you wiser and kinder. In fact, you’ll start yearning for his stories. Shams of Tabriz is not the type of character you come across that often in books. He is not a character you can love or empathize with. He will, bit by bit, put you under his spell and make you revere him for his divine wisdom and free-spiritedness. His romanticism and simplicity will wrap it’s arm around you and you will be left floating on his words of wisdom. I may never meet Shams but he has become my companion for the rest of my life.
The writing style is subtle and yet so powerful that while you are reading the book, the real world ceases to exist. The book easily accomplishes in giving vivid experiences of various places be it Ella’s home or the city of Konya. I felt myself dining with Ella’s family and relishing her exquisite food while she contemplated her life . And with the same ease, I became a part Rumi’s home, soaking the deluge of emotions of his family members towards Shams.
I have been amazed by many books, loved many characters but this one was something else. I think if every person in the world reads this book with an open mind, we’d all end up appreciating life and one another. It’s a book about love for God but not about religion. It’s about finding love and letting it transform you. It’s about experiencing the most sincere and pristine form of love without any bounds. It’s about living freely and for the right reasons. The book has left be spellbound. There’s no way you can read it just once.
The author has written the story and the characters amazingly. The story alternates between two sub-plots. He has set enough hooks in both the sub-plots to keep you interested until the very end. But the real beauty of this book is not the story that it holds but the narration of it. The poetic nature of the writing and depth of the inner dialogue of the characters is moving. The author wore mutiple hats while presenting the POV of various characters so as to keep us connected with their musings.
Finally, considering that the essence of the book is oneness of people and the creator, perhaps there weren’t multiple characters in the book. Instead, there were multiple shades and sides of just one.
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Happy Reading. Chao!
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