40 Rules of Love Review

By | November 2, 2011

The Forty Rules of Love
Elif Shafak

Paige’s Rating: (5) of 5
Recommended for: Love and Spirituality

Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives- one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz-that together incarnate the poet’s timeless message of love.
FABULOUS WONDERFUL SUPERB! I haven’t been this excited about a book in a long time, so let me share with you why this one has me momentarily typing in caps and adding random exclamation points!

First, the author weaves two stories together: one of a modern day housewife, getting back into the routine of work and finding that routine is the only thing that has kept her safe and… lonely. Then, the backdrop of that story is about Shams of Tabriz, a mystic who changes the world of a spiritual leader named Rumi. The story Shafak tells of Rumi and Shams is delightful and beautiful, creating a plot based on history, spirituality and love. It was absolutely fantastic, and done from the point-of-view of the different characters involved, each one telling his or her perspective in a diary-esque way. The story of the housewife and her secret lover is less interesting, in my opinion, and done in a third-person point-of-view.

The characters are well developed, although the two characters I enjoyed reading about the most were Rumi and Shams. Both characters are dynamic and appear to be complete opposites. Yet, each are on the same path and each desperately love and respect each other in a way that never comes off as sexual, but rather spiritual: and that was the point. The character of Shams dispenses forty different rules about love, each one deep in a way that causes the reader to stop and meditate.  For example,  “Do not fret about what your place in the universe should, could or might be. You contribute to the music of the universe by your very being. Your destiny is the level where you will play your tune. How well you play is entirely in your hands.”

Some people who have also written reviews about this book (yes, I checked), stated that the writing wasn’t very strong. I agree that the story between the housewife and her secret lover was rather dull and lacking that strong passion I have been looking for in books. The author is Turkish but I believe the book was written in English and so that could also explain a lack of desire between the two characters. However; the sub story is written beautifully and so I can’t discount that.

If you are looking for a light read, than I wouldn’t recommend this book. Rather, I would tell you that this is a book for those looking to look at themselves deeper, spiritually, and those who want to be reminded of just how lovely… well… love can be.

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