Monday, February 10, 2014

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

What a perfect book for February!  We all agreed that we thought this was a great book and one that left us wanting to learn more about Islam, Rumi and Shams. One of the members wasn't able to attend and she shared her thoughts:  "This was a tough book to read for me. The cultural differences made me aware of how little background I had to understand and enjoy the book. Names, titles, practices, religion all created barriers for comprehending the novel within a novel. I recall a line from the book I will paraphrase. Religions are like rivers in that they all run to the same place. We are are all more alike than different."  I think that some of us felt that the Forty Rules of Love could very well have been directed with Christians in mind.

Some mentioned that the book was hard to get into with the characters until they looked back and re-read parts of the book and figured out who each chapter was about. Another concern was the book going from modern day to 13th century time period.  Some questioned why the author had the modern day storyline, would have just liked the medieval time period story alone.  We shared that combining helped to compare the two story lines.  Someone said they would have rather had the Ella part out of the book; another  person stated "Loved the Ella part, read every Ella page first."  A few people had stated they would have never picked up this book but was so glad it was a part of our book club.  {Noted:  a good reason for our book club, we read books we would have never picked up.  We would have missed out on a great read.}

It was noted that each chapter begins with the letter B.  Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, which I believe means, "In the name of Allah, the Benevolent and Merciful" is mentioned in the beginning of the book.  There are a lot of chapters and if I counted right I saw it came to 94.  I wondered if there were 99 chapters because there are 99 names of God in Islam. 

One of the fourty rules of love which I thought connected well with the story in this novel "Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things may seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful!  It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given, but also for what he has been denied." 

It was a wonderful evening of discussion and the local cable channel was there to record some of our thoughts. We will keep you posted on their tv show.