The Forty rules of love by Elif Shafak: A Book reviews

The Forty rules of love by Elif Shafak: A Book reviews

Do you ever feel so disappointed in yourself when you don’t fall in love with a book? I did as I read The Forty rules of love. When I was in a reading slump a while ago, a friend of mine nudged (read as: pushed) me towards this one as this was one of her favorite books.

I had had few others recommending this book earlier, and the time had finally come for me to pick The Forty rules of love. So let us see how that turned out for me right?

About The Forty rules of love

Forty rules of love Elif Shafak

Book Name: The Forty rules of love

Author: Elif Shafak

Genre: Fiction – Drama, Magical Realism, Historical

Characters: Ella, Rumi, Shams-i Tabrizi

Setting: The USA, Turkey

Plot Summary of The Forty rules of love

The Forty rules of love is a story within a story. Ella, a married woman is going through a mid life crisis with a loveless marriage, a husband who is cheating on her and kids who don’t need her anymore.

When her young daughter announces that she is getting married to her boyfriend, Ella finds it hard to believe that people (i.e. her daughter) wanted to marry for love

Ella is a beta reader who receives a manuscript from an author with whom she begins email conversation. She realizes that Aziz was so different from her and his beliefs and faith shock her as much as they enthuse her.

She continues to read his manuscript about two friends, Rumi and Sham and learns about their Dervish ways of life, which a part of Islam. Does the relationship between Ella and Aziz go any further? Does Ella’s perception of life change at all? Read The Forty rules of love to know further.

Book review of The Forty rules of love

As I was telling earlier, I tried so hard to like The Forty rules of love but I was left disappointed. And for once it was not because of my high expectations or the hype. I just failed to understand the whole point of the rules of love and completely disliked the preachy tone and wonder if it had anything to do with the translation or it was just the writing itself. 

I wish it had a little bit lightheartedness in it to make it more fun to read. There were too many small characters to remember but I can understand why they were needed, to educate every rule. I still wish the characters had more depth, while they were all card board cut – the non religious were all evil and the religious ones were all love and simple. 

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the way the author had mixed in Turkish culture and history to the story. 
  • The ideology behind the rules for the love to God and one another was novel and interesting (to a point).
  • Reading this story has increased my interest in reading the poems of Rumi which are well known. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I wish the characters were more complex and deeper.
  • I didn’t like the moral, preachy tones that made it difficult to like the characters. 
  • To be fair I have never had a thing for magical realism. Maybe I don’t get it well enough to appreciate it. 


I am happy for all those for whom this book worked. But it didn’t for me, I understand why didn’t work for me. I might give the author another try, in a few years and maybe it will work then. Keeping my fingers crossed. 

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The Forty rules of love by Elif Shafak: A Book reviews

The Head of the Saint: Book review

How refreshing is it to find a book that is totally out of your usual genres? One of my Facebook group decided to read a book from Brazil and they chose The Head of the Saint.

As per usual, I did not read the blurb before I picked the book. But I had a vague idea what the book was about based on the discussions the other members had. The Head of the Saint is not like anything I have read before. Was it good or bad then? Read more to know.

About the book

The Head of the Saint cover

Book Name: The Head of the Saint

Author: Socorro Acioli, Daniel Hahn

Genre: Fiction – Magical Realism, Young adult

Setting: Brazil

The plot

A few days before her death Samuel’s mother asks her fourteen year old son to light candles at the foot of three different saints and then to find his estranged father and his grandmother in the town of Cadeia.

During this ill fated journey Samual finds shelter in what he first assumes as a cave. He later learns that it is the head of an incomplete statue of a famous Brazilian saint and is surprised to hear the prayers of the believers from the town of Cadeia. .

Cadeia is what you can call as a dead town with no prospect for development and many people have migrated away to other towns. The few people who stayed back have lost their faith in their saint and their religion. Samuel realizes he can solve the worries of the patrons by simple interventions and thereby restoring the towns Catholic faith inadvertently.

Did Samuel’s little play help the town or make matters worse for him? Where is the line between human intervention and God’s play? This short tale The Head of the Saint will answer these questions and more.

My initial thoughts

Even though I had a vague idea about the subject, The Head of the Saint was a pleasant surprise. It reads like a folklore and all the characters are intertwined.

Though translated from Portuguese, this story set in Brazil will not deprive you of the native settings.

The Head of the Saint has a lots of religious undertones that we do not find in our typical (read as US/UK-centric ) YA books. The book involves several heavy themes like identity, roots, corruption etc.

Things that worked for me

  • The author’s writing helps the novel stay true to the middle grade and Young adult audience despite its themes
  • I love reading about other culture and their folklore, The Head of the Saint was a good choice for Brazil.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • It does feel chunky and it is apparent that it is a translated work at times but it does not spoil the reading experience.


The Head of the Saint is a coming of age, if I can call that, story with intense themes that would surprise you. If you are interested in reading folklore from different countries, you can pick The Head of the Saint for Brazil.

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