Most of you would think this is just a mainstream or basic novel and whenever you ask a book reader he/she”ll mention this but honestly I chose to write this book’s review as my first one because this was the first novel I’ve read and this made me a habitual reader. Of course all thanks to Elif Shafak. Her writing style and the choice of words is amazing. Especially if you’re into Sufism you must read this book first. The sequence in which story progresses, not only interest but curiosity is developed. Each character is well narrated so one can easily create images in the mind that are easy to remember too. Main theme of this book is to show how one can live a life that’s rational and coherent. It simply depicts that matters of life can be dealt spiritually and not emotionally all the time. Not only brains, but hearts can be used wisely as well.
Well readers this book is divided into two main parts. One where a 40 years old Ella, a house wife and a mother of three children, realizes that she is unhappily married and losing interest in her routine and she wants to give her career a new start. She gets her first book “Sweet Blasphemy” to report on, which is based on spiritual love. At first she was hesitant to read it because it has the story of 13th century poet Rumi and his companion Shams. She felt it would be of no interest because already her life seems perforated and now a spiritual book does not seem to fit in. But once she started, she was so much captivated that she wanted to talk more about it with its author Aziz and hence she started writing emails to him. In those exchanged emails their conversation grew so profound that Ella starts considering Aziz as her spiritual teacher just as Sham was for Rumi. She felt how she has settled for a life that lacks true essence of love and she was ready to give up on her dull present for the person who has removed her blindfold.
The other part leads us back to history of 13th century where Rumi met Shams and he realized how much he is confided in social, cultural and religious norms. Though he was successful in his teaching life but felt there is void that can only be filled when all those boundaries, which one creates around himself, are broken. This was exactly what Shams taught him, though he created danger for himself on the way but he was fearless of it all. Those forty rules were the main components of his teachings. These rules were his main belief on why God has created human life and what purpose do we have on this earth. It all narrows down to one thing, “Love”. One is not just supposed to fulfill social demands but also what the soul needs. Shams taught Rumi to find God in places where He’s least expected to be because this is the only way to learn about inner self. One must only have the fear of God and then all other fellow beings seem harmless and united under the roof of love. The goal of Shams was to direct Rumi towards the path of light despite all the hatred, apathy, resistance and resentment from family and society and awaken his soul to lead a life that he was meant to live.
Both Shams and Aziz, set Rumi and Ella free of their self created extremities in the light of love. Elif made sure that not only her male characters are strong but females are also equally fearless of social bounds. And hence this novel shows human beings are interconnected with kindness, understanding and empathy and how beautifully Islam has been teaching this since ages. It actually changes one’s perspective about life which is I think the main purpose of a book.
My favorite quote from this book is “The universe turns differently when fire loves water“. Let me know yours 🙂