Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Forty Rules of Love (Elif Shafak)


Title: The Forty Rules of Love
Author: Elif Shafak
Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction / Philosophy
First published: 2009
Edition: Paperback, published in 2015 by Penguin

Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of Ella’s life – an emptiness once filled by love. So when Ella reads a manuscript about the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of life and love, her world is turned upside down. She embarks on a journey to meet the mysterious author of this work.

This was the right book at the right time. There were time I actually hugged this book. The words contained within it mean a lot. This is one of those novels that is thought provoking, but in a very gentle way. It makes you think, but it does not do so in a forceful manner.

I am of no religion, but I am fascinated with religion and spirituality and this book touched on both, with part of it set during the famous poet Rumi’s life in the 1200s and house wife Ella’s world in the late 2000s. Through the eyes Rumi and Shams and various people they encounter, this novel looks at Sufism during that time and what it meant to follow those teachings. Then through Ella’s attachment to Sufi author Aziz she starts seeing the world with fresh eyes and realise it is never too late to start on a new path, not necessarily through Sufism, but simply by letting ourselves follow our hearts.

I thought this book had some beautiful passages and messages that I know will stay me for a long time. The story made me feel a lot of things in a good way. I do not think this book is for everyone. It has a very specific tone, which I am not sure quite how to explain. It is kind of spiritual, but for me it never felt too much so. I am not that familiar with Sufism or indeed Rumi’s life, so I have no idea whether it is portrayed correctly.

Honestly, I loved this book from start to finish. I will definitely be reading more books by this author.

7 out of 7 stars

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