I just finished reading The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. The author is one of the high profile names that participated in this year’s Asia House Festival of Asian Literature.
This is the first book I have read by Elif Shafak and I was drawn to it as I read the back cover and saw three words: Sufi, Rumi and Shams…sold!! This book is like Kryptonite for my sister full of spirituality and love. Love between friends, between lovers, love of our self and connecting with God. My sister doesn’t do God and she certainly doesn’t do mushy love! However I enjoyed it.
Split between time frames and with poignant references to today’s geopolitical/religious sentiments and similarities in the 12th century, the book elegantly tells the story of how Rumi became the most spectacular Sufi poet and how his friend Shams of Tabriz helped him realise his gift. This story was by far more interesting than the parallel tale of Ella the generic Desperate Housewife that snaps. Although her story is a very real scenario for many women in the world I found it dull but that’s my personal opinion. Elif Shafak has been called a threat to Paulo Coelho’s dominance so I can see why she included this self-help plot but it’s not my cup of tea.
If you’re interested in Sufi spirituality this book is a gem beautifully written with humour, care and love. The rules of love aren’t like Cosmo magazine, they are Sufi rules and they are wonderful.