People, this book:
BLURB: 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.
MINI REVIEW: OMFG. So, to be honest, I got this book first as an audiobook, and I could not get to it. I found Ella excruciatingly boring and the writing flat. I couldn’t go on. I got the ebook. Ditto. Finally, my paperback copy came in from the library–and because I really trusted the person who recommended this book and author–I pushed through. And then I ended up in Konya and Baghdad and back in Konya, and in the heads of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz and all was right with the world.
It’s an an uneven production. The Rumi-Shams storyline is much better, much stronger than than the present-day Ella-Aziz storyline. But the Rumi-Shams storyline is worth persevering through the flaws.
Also, the truly brilliantly crafted paragraphs, sentences, especially the retellings of Shams’ 40 Rules of Love, oh-god, I forgive her everything.
I think this is my favourite:
“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern of Western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. IT is what it is pure and simple.”
You need to get to know Elif Shafak.
Here is her website: https://www.elifsafak.com.tr/home
Here is her Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elif_Shafak
Wait, one more:
But you know what you really need to do? Memorize Shams of Tabriz’s 40 Rules of Love.
Sigh. I’m off to read something a little lighter, and then, The Bastard of Istanbul, I think…