Book Review of Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Review by : Anima Jain

Edited by: Kislay Kishan

A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, Divine or mundane, eastern or western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.”

An engaging and mesmerizing read, once you pick it up you don’t want to put it down.  Elif Shafak has beautifully crafted the two parallel worlds of this book. Her writing style is undemanding and the narrative simple.  She manages to capture the Sufi essence with her words.

She weaves a tale of love and devotion. The book is a journey of finding and losing yourself in love.  This is one story that will surely change your stance towards love, life and devotion.

In the book we see two parallel stories going side by side. The novel starts with the modern story of a 40 year old housewife Ella , who starts a job of a novel critique and as her first assignment gets ‘sweet blasphemy’, a novel that will transform her life. Ella’s story is about how she finds love in her life after forty years. A few emails with Aziz the Sufi writer alter her perspective towards life and love.  She rediscovers herself through ‘sweet blasphemy’. Shafak’s words will move you as she beautifully portrays the life and tussles of Ella.

“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.”

Elif Shafak paints pictures with her austere words.  It is through her unique style of narration that we get to see the story of Rumi and the remarkable spiritual bond he shares with the Shams of Tabriz the wandering dervish whose friendship changed Rumi, unfolding before our very eyes.  Sweet blasphemy is a remarkable historical tale that engages the point of view of various people, the multiple narratives rest perfectly within each other and we get to see Rumi as he transforms from a great preacher into an unmistakable Sufi poet and a mystic through his bond with Shams of Tabriz. The novel is eloquently written and will garner your attention till the end.

This novel is a blend of spirituality and Sufism, a perfect read if you are just venturing into this world. And if you are already familiar with Sufism or have read books on spirituality than you surely can’t miss this one out.

Try not to resist changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come? “

Rating- 4.5 out of 5

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Reviewer’s profile:  Anima has always enjoyed reading, anything and everything she can lay her hands on. Books and food are the most cherished comforts of her life.

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