The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak
Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Every so often, you need a book to take you above and beyond your comfort zone. You need a book to take you into worlds you’ve never seen, with people you’ve never met. Languages you don’t understand, religions you don’t worship, history you haven’t been taught.
The Forty Rules of Love was included in the Romance Capsule sent to me by Capsule Books, and I am thankful for this book. Elif Shafak’s novel transported me into foreign lands. It’s been ages since I felt like a book taught me something, but this book truly opened my eyes and nourished my mind.
The Forty Rules of Love is a book of two stories. In present-day, Ella is a middle-aged Jewish wife, dissatisfied with her domesticity for many unidentifiable reasons. Her job as a literary agent saddles her with a book called “Sweet Blasphemy” by Aziz Zahara. Initially overwhelmed by the large and historic tome, she digs in to find herself reflected in the narrative, and compelled to reach out to the author. Seeking her own deep truths, her friendship and union with Aziz helps her find spiritual equilibrium and happiness in her life.
The parallel narrative is the story of Aziz’s book, which depicts Shams of Tabriz and his bond with Rumi, the famous Persian poet. This section of the novel is a captivating retelling of Islamic figureheads from the 13th century. As Shams mentors Rumi in the radical spirituality of the whirling dervishes, we, as readers, learn bottomless lessons of love and acceptance.
As a reader and as a human, I have such minimal knowledge of so many things, and this book has really shown me just how much I have to learn. I didn’t know much about Islam. I didn’t know anything about Rumi, despite the fact that he’s essentially the world’s bestselling poet of all time. I didn’t know the phrase “whirling dervish” was rooted in a sort of bohemian Islamic sect. I had no idea about this fragment of middle-eastern history.
The Forty Rules of Love actually made me want to go pick up a history book and continue this journey.
Elif Shafak has created a such significant work of historical fiction. The retelling of this Islamic history was masterfully done; the story was entertaining, relevant, and attainable, and I am so happy that it was able to widen my eyes to vastly new perspectives. Simply put, this book was a cool experience.
Thank you so much to Capsule Books for sending me this copy!