The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak

Two different narratives in two different centuries, same issues.

In the present day, Ella has been married for the last 20 years when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent.  She is given a manuscript to read and report on which is entitled Sweet Blasphemy.

As Ella reads she becomes mesmerized as soon as she starts to read where it takes her back in time to the 13th century where a wandering dervish tells his tale of transforming a cult like status cleric who gives lectures about religion into a mystic, poet, and an advocate of love.

Along the way, the dervish encounters people from all walks of life.  In their situations, he talks to them about the forty lessons of love that will affect or change taken from an ancient philosophy based on all people from all walks of life and religion.

As Ella reads, she begins to contemplate how she feels about love.  She has never really believed in it before, she thinks it is just some silly notion that goes away after a time, so why really risk being hurt all because of love.

But, she  changes as she reads and emails the author who is a dervish in present life.  As they email back and forth, they form this strong connection which turns into love.  Ella begins to reexamine her marriage, all that she was for the last 20 years – mother, housewife, etc; there is also the fact that her doctor husband who has been a serial cheater.

At first, I was sceptical, but as I read, and later dreamed in my dreams which was new for me; it did have a profound effect on me.  The words and rules from the 13th century or perhaps even before were talking about made absolute sense.  Even since this book is fiction, it does make you think.

It could also set you free.

This book will be available to purchase at your favorite independent bookstore or online the 23rd of February.

Penguin / Viking

Elif’s website


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