My Autumn read this year is The Forty Rules Of Love by Elif Shafak. The main reason why I picked up this book in the first place was because I thought it would be a romance novel all thanks to the title. I haven’t read a romance novel in quite a while so I thought why not. Besides its fall and people around me were falling in love. Turns out the book wasn’t what I thought it would be and to be honest, I liked the surprise.
The Forty Rules Of Love by Elif Shafak is about Ella Rubinstein a middle aged woman, wife to David Rubenstein and a mother to three teenage children, Jeanette, Orly and Avi. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of her life which was 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, she finds herself overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions she thought she had lost. Turning her back on her family she embarks on a quest infused with Sufi mysticism and verse to find the mysterious author taking her into an exotic world where faith and love are heartbreakingly explored.
Even though this book wasn’t a page turner and at times it really did test my patience, I rather enjoyed it. Its slow pace narrative actually works since it involves the concept of religion, love and life and those are things that should never be rushed into. I liked it no doubt about it but I wished the author would have given us more about Ella’s life. I thought she would have been the central character to the story but it turns out to be Shams of Tabriz. I wanted to know what she was going to do next, the emotions raging inside her, her worries, doubts, how her actions affect her family. But we don’t really get that. It’s just mentioned at the end that she gets divorced from David and her two younger children aren’t happy with her decision of leaving her family in order to follow her heart. My main problem with the book was the fact that it was a little bit too preachy. Maybe some of you might enjoy it but for me, I didn’t really like it. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a story from the Bible.
What I did like about the book was the whole concept of reading a book within a book which reminded me of Inception (that movie will forever be awesome). The book follows two narratives, one being Ella’s storyline and the other being Sweet Blasphemy the book written by Aziz, the author Ella eventually falls in love with. I didn’t think that it would work and thought that it would just end up being a huge confusing mess but surprisingly it did. The whole book is told through multiple point of views and the fact that it doesn’t get messy well Kudos to Elif, not every author can pull that off. Sweet blasphemy has compelling characters and their development was so well done, it was much better than the characters in Ella’s storyline that honestly I feel that Sweet Blasphemy should have been a separate book altogether. Another major reason why I liked the book was that it taught me a lot about culture and Sufism. It was a learning experience in a novel and I liked it. Reading this, made me realise that I was pretty ignorant about the world and this was a stepping stone to knowing other cultures out there.
All things considered I would give this book a 4 out of 5 star rating and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys slow paced books which are culturally rich. Before I go, I’ll leave you with one of the forty rules of life and love to ponder on.
“Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.”