“Love came to Ella as suddenly and brusquely, as if a stone had been hurled from out of nowhere into the tranquil pond of her life.” ― Elif Shafak,
The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak, is different in its own way. It’s a book that brings in Sufism, Rumi the mystic Persian poet, and Shams of Tabriz to the forefront. For a reader like me, who is seldom aware of the existence of these, the book served as a brilliant read and familiarized me with unknown facts and philosophies from the Persian land. Structured with two parallel narratives placed side by side, the book is a fascinating account of Ella Rubenstein, a women grappling with a marriage that’s lost its sheen. It also parallelly narrates the spiritual relationship between Rumi and Shams in Turkey in the 1200’s. The two narratives are then seamlessly interwoven, as the book draws to an end.
All of forty years old Ella Rubenstein seems unhappy with her marriage. She takes up a job as a reader for a literary agent, when she is given the book Sweet Blasphemy to read and report on. The book is written by the Amsterdam based author Aziz Zahara and narrates the tale of Shams in search of the mystic Sufi poet Rumi. Ella is mesmerized reading the book. She is drawn towards Sham’s lessons, or rules. Sham’s narrative encapsulates the forty rules of love touching upon universal love, tolerance and patience. As Ella reads the Sweet Blasphemy, she begins to realize that Rumi’s story mirrors her own in many a ways.
She finds her inspiration in the pages of the book, and slowly decides to break free. She steps out of her marriage- one that had begun to suffocate her, to take that big step and embrace change.
This post is a part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge where I write about twenty six women characters from books, who have left an impact on me. You can read the previous posts here- Women in Books
The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.