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 thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his ‘spiritual mirror’, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz. This proves to be a defining moment for both Rumi and Shams.


Their relationship takes them on a spiritual adventure filled with love and countless insights where both are enhanced by the experience. Theirs is a tale of great fortune and misfortune, a story with many lessons for us all.


Ella Rubenstein is forty 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.


This is a truly fascinating book that will take you on a memorable journey, one that will invite you to question the complexities of the human spirit and the broad church we call love.