• The Forty Rules of Love

  • A Novel of Rumi
  • By: Elif Shafak
  • Narrated by: Laural Merlington
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,152 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this follow-up to her acclaimed 2007 novel The Bastard of Istanbul, Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives---one contemporary and the other set in the 13th century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz---that together incarnate the poet's timeless message of love.

Ella Rubenstein is 40 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' 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, which 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.

©2010 Elif Shafek (P)2010 Tantor

What listeners say about The Forty Rules of Love

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  • 07-05-19

Horrible reader

Choosing a reader who has no knowledge of the Arabic or the Quran butchered the references in this book for me. I cringed every time she attempted with her forced pronunciations of these words, names or Quranic verses. Please get an appropriate reader who has some knowledge or training when a book involves cross-cultural and linguistic references.

33 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Incredible!!! I can't put the book down

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I purchased the novel at 6 pm today. Now it's 12 am and I don't want to go to bed...Could only put my iPhone down (listening on audible app) to charge the dead battery... Showered and blow dried my hair w earphones on!! Lol. One of the best fiction books I ever read! Thanks.

14 people found this helpful

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So well done.

Where does The Forty Rules of Love rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top Ten

What did you like best about this story?

The story is straightforward and not tricky - and it's beautifully told. The poetry of Rumi and the relationship with Shams of Tabriz reflect well in the past as well as the present time. There is a gentleness in the story that I liked. The mundane-ness of a woman planning meals for her family -- I do this to escape life's realities. Maybe it's just the timing of this particular choice, but the story resonated on many levels. Can't wait to listen to more by this author.

What does Laural Merlington bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Oh, the deliciousness of her deliberate pronunciation of each syllable gives the words weight and value. Loved it.

Any additional comments?

I'm well read and a tough critic -- I absolutely loved this story and it's delivery. Definitely worthwhile. So much so, I need to listen again - and I just finished it last week. Every aspect of the story and delivery were solid. Good work.

12 people found this helpful

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Borders on religious propaganda

First off, I'm agnostic leaning towards Buddhist. I heard some of Rumi's poems and loved them so I thought this would be an enjoyable book. It's actually 2 completely different books and neither of them are any good. The story of Ella is totally lame and poorly written. The story set in the 13th century is not engaging, hard to follow, and there are few if any parallels to Ella's story. At 4 hours in, I give up. The language is insipid, and Ella's story is less interesting and more poorly written than any third rate romance novel I have read. If you are an intelligent person who seeks knowledge and well written books, skip this one. I think I will just go buy a book of Rumi's poems now.

10 people found this helpful

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enchanted..educated.and droolingly good listen

let it play out and take time to Savor the storytellers honesty...after it finished I played the jig saw puzzle template it left in my mind accompanied by Sufi net music.i am 75 years old but I feel like I needed my years of experience to really resonate with this work of art.

9 people found this helpful

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This book is written for a different audience.

Would you try another book from Elif Shafak and/or Laural Merlington?

No.

Has The Forty Rules of Love turned you off from other books in this genre?

If it's the genre of fiction based on history and religion, then I am not turned off. Books like The Alchemist and The Prophet are excellent examples and I would recommend.If it's the genre of romance novels, then yes I am turned off.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Laural Merlington?

Laural Merlington worked hard on her narration, I do not want to criticize her. She clearly did the best she could, despite the difficult words to pronounce and wide range of characters she had to act out.

What character would you cut from The Forty Rules of Love?

Ella. The most confused character of them all, even her moments of wisdom at the end of the book were based on pure hedonism and escapism, not inner happiness or deeper insight on life and purpose. She had not learnt anything, and failed to change anything in herself, she simply ran away.

Any additional comments?

I'm not the target audience, that's all. A note for readers: The book had a few moments of explicit sexual writing, which read as a pornographic novel in those rare moments. But that is how it is written for its target audience, which I am sure would enjoy it this way.However, I did appreciate the few rare moments of spiritual and philosophical clarity in the book. But that was about 1/5th of the book, and they became less frequent as the book went on, especially the last bit where almost all spiritual guidance, stories and allegories were not as deep or as well thought out. I guess the deadline for the book was drawing near.Bless you all, I hope you enjoy the book if you think it is what your are looking for.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Characterless.

At 71, I really don't have the time left to listen to books about silly women and incredibly self-centered men, no matter what era or culture. I had thought I would like to know more about Rumi. I hope this is not an accurate characterization. As for the contemporary female character, I find it hard to accept that in 2008, a woman with an education and a family, would not care that her husband was sleeping with everything in sight, that her daughter was a selfish, self-absorbed and nasty little piece of work, and that she had so little insight into her other children, she could not recognize the signs of illness in the twin daughter. Although, I must say I have known some of these vapid women, and assumed them to have personality disorders, so perhaps I am too critical of the author.

All the time, the contemporary wife and some of the other characters from the 13th century whine on about "love," which to me, seems to be less about their fellow man, but the privilege of doing what they want, no matter the outcome to others.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Couldn't put it down!

A Very c!ever intertwining of 12th century Turkey and
an upper class suburb outside NYC today. The story grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go! Profound Sufi teachings on love, dying to the ego, and living in the present moment hung skillfully on two main characters so far away in space and time. The bonus was to understand more about the beloved Rumi.

3 people found this helpful

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Reading on the Camino de Santiago

I'm read this book at a time in my life where I have been evaluating everything that's important. Wow... this book has spoken to me. I've just finished and I'm immediately going to listen again. It's so beautifully built up and the stories are intertwined so perfectly. I now crave more books similar to this, something to widen my grasp of reality, and let go of things not serving me. I m officially a Rumi lover.

3 people found this helpful

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Not worth it

Spent a good amount of time rolling my eyes. Could have been good, I suppose... I found the execution lacking and the inconsistent narration did not help.

2 people found this helpful