The Forty Rules of Love: Book summary and reviews of The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

The Forty Rules of Love

A Novel of Rumi

By Elif Shafak

The Forty Rules of Love
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2010,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

In this lyrical, exuberant follow-up to her 2007 novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, acclaimed 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.

Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent. Her first assignment is to read and report on Sweet Blasphemy, a novel written by a man named Aziz Zahara. Ella is mesmerized by his tale of Shams's search for Rumi and the dervish's role in transforming the successful but unhappy cleric into a committed mystic, passionate poet, and advocate of love. She is also taken with Shams's lessons, or rules, that offer insight into an ancient philosophy based on the unity of all people and religions, and the presence of love in each and every one of us. As she reads on, she realizes that Rumi's story mir­rors her own and that Zahara-like Shams-has come to set her free.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Shafak’s seductive, shrewd, and affecting novel brilliantly revives the revelations of Shams and Rumi, and daringly illuminates the differences between religion and spirituality, censure and compassion, fear and love of life in our own violent world." - Booklist "This novel, a best seller in Turkey, may appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks or Robert James Waller." - Library Journal

"Celebrated Turkish novelist Shafak serves up a curious blend of mediocre hen lit and epic historical to underwhelming results." - Publishers Weekly

"Shafak should have dropped Ella's story, with its preachy spiritual ruminations, and stuck to Rumi's odyssey, which opens a window into a world Westerners know little about." - Kirkus Reviews

"[An} appealing fable ... The universal theme is the struggle between the rational mind and the aching heart. Shafak’s heroine yields to the latter and never looks back." - More Magazine (more.com)

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Author Information

Elif Shafak Author Biography

Photo: Ebru Bilun

Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1971. She is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages. Shafak has published ten books, seven of which are novels. She writes in both Turkish and English. Shafak blends Western and Eastern traditions of storytelling, bringing out the multiple stories of minorities, immigrants, women subcultures and global souls. Her work draws on diverse cultures and literary traditions, as well as deep interest in history, philosophy, oral culture, and cultural politics.

Shafak's writing breaks down categories, clichés, and cultural ghettoes, bringing out the multiple stories of minorities, immigrants, women, subcultures and global souls. She also has ...

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