Book Review: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

 
Ella Rubinstein is a 40 year old stay-at-home mother and wife with a beautiful home, 3 children and a prosperous husband. Outwardly, Ella has everything one could wish for, despite which she still feels an unnamed sense of discontent.
 
Agreeing to a part time job as a reader to a literary agent, Ella’s first assignment is to read a debut novel by an author called, Aziz Z Zahara.
 
The novel, titled Sweet Blasphemy, is set in the 13th century Anatolia and Ella finds herself reading about the fabled poet Rumi, whose life and views were transformed by the whirling dervish Shams of Tabriz and his forty rules of love and life.  Both characters so diverse from each other that only a miracle could have brought them together.
 
Along with Ella we discover Rumi and Shams, and the journey of their friendship and love, peppered with Shams Forty Rules and various characters, all diverse from the other, who come together to form a tapestry that reveals itself in the end, leaving you overwhelmed at the beauty of it.
 
As Ella’s reading of Sweet Blasphemy progress, she starts an email correspondence with the author. What begins with innocent emails soon turn into intimate exchanges, deepening Ella and Aziz’s bond.
 
Much like love, this book is many layered and requires patience and acceptance to be understood. Much like love, it will make you smile and bring tears to your eyes. Much like love, it will also be understood and interpreted differently. Much like love, it will simplify itself when you stop trying to understand it. Much like love, it will show you facets of yourself you never imagined you possessed. Much like love, you will realise every lesson comes for a price. Much like love, it will leave you humbled. Much like love, reading The Forty Rules of Love was a spiritual experience. One that can only be felt and one that must be felt.
 
 
P:S: The Forty Rules of Love wasn’t an easy book to read. I lost patience many times during the first 60 pages and also set it aside. But friends who have enjoyed reading it asked me to be patient and read on. And I am glad I did.

Book Review : Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I have been a huge fan of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ever since I read her first book of short stories, Arranged Marriage. Sister of My Heart and The Palace of Illusions have been amongst my constant favourites among all of her books I’ve read so far.

When ‘Before we visit the Goddess’ was released I looked forward to reading it, the title intriguing me especially.

The book spans three generations of women from the same family, connected by blood but disconnected by distance and misunderstandings.
Sabitri, a strong woman who fights all odds and emerges a winner, or does she?
Sabitri’s daughter, Bela, a problem child who resents her mother and blames her for all the wrongs in her life. Is Bela justified in doing so, or not?
Sabitri’s grand daughter and Bela’s daughter, Tara, Daddy’s Girl who knows nothing about her grandmother and does not want to know her mother. Will Tara regret this distancing?
The men is their lives who keep them apart, knowingly and unknowingly.
From a small village in West Bengal all the way to distant America lives are shattered and the jagged pieces cause wounds that leave scars.

The story and writing seem haphazardly put together, like a patchwork quilt. Sadly the pieces are mismatched and don’t form a pretty picture. The story left me confused, dissatisfied and wondering if CBD had actually written it, or had it ghost written. I could not connect the title to the story either. This book lacks CBD’s trademark eloquent prose that connects you to her writing.

Here’s hoping that CBD was having a one off, after a constant string of best sellers, and is going to be back again with a bang. Soon.

Book Review – Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani




Each of us has grown up listening to, believing in and following certain ideologies which have been passed onto us from our parents, our religions, our cultures and later got firmly entrenched into our being from our experiences. More often than not we’ve followed these without questioning them or continued following them even after not getting satisfactory answers when questioned.
The concept of heaven and hell and karma has been dominant in almost every religion and culture and most people fear it which leads them to believe it, thus making fear and anxiety the triggers that lead us to make most decisions, whether we are convinced of them or not.
Cancer ate through author Anita Moorjani’s body till she slipped into a coma. After which she experienced a sense of being that was beautiful, and where she was given a choice to come back to the living world, or not.
She chose to come back and share with the world a story that may seem amazing and unbelievable.
After her Near Death Experience (NDE) Moorjani was completely cured, astounding doctors who were working on her and delighting her family who were glad to have her back.
‘Dying To Be Me’, was recommended to me by a friend. As I read through, I initially scoffed at Moorjanis experience, but as I continued reading, patiently and keeping all judgement aside, I realized that I found the answers to a lot of questions that had been unanswered for a few years now.
I would like to admit, this book seemed very emotionally overwhelming in places, so much so that I needed to keep it aside for a bit, compose myself and resume reading it. 

The question this book made me ask myself was, if we’ve believed, and continued believing ideologies fed to us without any proof of their claims, why not believe someone who has proof of coming back to life and healing herself? 
It helps that Moorjani uses a neutral narrative, not putting down any religion or perspective and/or propping up her own instead and only shares her experience, her insights and the results of the changes she made in her life post her NDE, all which seem practical and achievable. The simple writing makes it an easy read, and reading it felt like I was listening to a friend.

Each of us who reads this book would experience it differently.  There is one thing I would say though, if you don’t/didn’t connect to it, it probably is not yet your time to, and quoting a well known line also used in the book, ‘The master will appear when the student is ready.’

This post is part of the Half Marathon Blogging Challenge with BlogChatter 
Day 4