The Forty Rules of Love | Elif Shafak| Book Review
4 mins read

The Forty Rules of Love | Elif Shafak| Book Review

Story plot: 5/5

Writing: 4.5/5

Presentation: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

If there is one thing humans crave more than anything else, it is love. Love in all of its shapes and forms makes up the foundation of humanity. From eras and centuries, people both great and common have talked about its beauty. ‘The Forty Rules of Love’ is a tribute to that all-consuming, everlasting and beautiful feeling we call love.

The tale begins with Ella who is a happily married mother of three, or so she thinks. Has she ever thought about what she is if she isn’t all that? Absolutely not. It’s only when she is faced with the task of reading a book called ‘A Sweet Blasphemy’ does she realizes that there is more to her than she had thought.

When Ella gets to know the writer of the book, she cannot help but get drawn to him. His mysterious yet genuine charm awakens in her a desire that she didn’t even know existed within her. But, does she have the courage to follow her heart? To trust the process and go to where the path takes her? What about everything that she will have to leave behind?  

Don’t ask yourself what kind of a 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.’

My Thoughts on The Forty Rules of Love

I am calling it a work of art because how else can I describe the magnificence of this piece of perfection? It’s a book within a book and a story which is so raw that it almost seems untrue. It raises a lot of questions about love. The dynamic between the Shams of Tabriz and the great Rumi is beyond human understanding. A soul connection that isn’t easy to comprehend and yet is beautiful in its chaotic way.

It brings to my mind a lot of questions. Is the kind of connection that Shamz shared with Rumi and Ella with the writer Aziz even possible in this fast-paced and forever-changing world? What I do know for sure is that even if it did exist, the lack of acceptance is still the same as it was then. There are always people questioning this love.

The Forty Rules of Love is a well-written novel that carries a lot of messages and teachings. It is most suitable for a more mature reader who will be able to understand it better. Every chapter is a perspective of a character and that helps to understand their feelings better.

Points of perfection

The writer did an amazing job in the transition between the two stories, Ella’s and Rumi’s. In no way did they look abrupt or rushed. It almost seems like the two stories move parallel to each other in two different worlds.

The personalities of the characters were unique, and this added richness to the already well-written story. From the Desert Rose to Suleiman the Drunk, each had a story to tell and a side to take.

The writer introduced us to the magical world of Sufism. The beautiful musical instrument ‘Ney ’ and the ‘Sema’; the dance of the whirling dervishes.

Major Takeaways from the book

Love is chaotic and free-willed like wildfire. You cannot control it. It just spreads and spreads till your entire being is engulfed by its presence. It’s difficult to forget it and more difficult to acknowledge it but whoever finds love in this lifetime is probably the happiest of all. Love can change you, make you better or worse. It made Rumi a poet from a scholar. It is one of the strongest forces of nature.

You might be put through bad circumstances, but it is you who decides whether to suffer or endure. The Desert Rose endured and faced her difficulties and as a result, was free to live a life that she chose for herself.

In a world full of bias, just be yourself. You cannot please everyone and shouldn’t even try to. There are people out there who hate others only because their view of the world is different from their own. Tolerance is a rare virtue.

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