The Forty Rules of Love

An unhappily married housewife finds romance.

Reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru

In this appealing fable, Turkish author Elif Shafak toggles between characters from different times: a modern American housewife and a thirteenth-century poet.
Ella Rubinstein is unhappily married when she takes a job at a literary agency. There she finds a manuscript about the poet Rumi by a writer named Aziz Zahara. Zahara’s meditations on love enchant Ella, and the two begin a flirtatious correspondence: “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.”
The universal theme is the struggle between the rational mind and the aching heart. Shafak’s heroine yields to the latter and never looks back.     

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