Holly Payne’s spellbinding tale brings the unparalleled poet, Mevlana Rumi, to life, and transports readers to the enchanting world of 13th century Persia. Simply but elegantly told, the story unravels the mystery surrounding a legendary orphaned girl, who discovers her gift of turning roses into oil. Named after the flowering rosa damascena, the girl reluctantly assumes the role of a living saint for the miracles she performs—longing only for one that matters: finding her mother. Deeply wounded by the separation since birth, Damascena undergoes a riveting transformation when she meets Rumi and discovers the secret of the rose. Imbued with rich historical research and inspired by the devastating disappearance of Rumi’s most lauded spiritual companion, Shams of Tabriz, Holly Payne has courageously opened herself to receive Rumi’s teachings and offer a timeless love story. Inspiring and magical, the story of Damascena transmits the wisdom of the heart, inviting us to transform our pain into love.
My first thought was how brave the author was for choosing such a prominent figure for her novel. As I began reading her work; however, I couldn’t help but wonder if the figure chose her.
Holly Payne has delivered a masterpiece that embraces the soul. The beauty of this story mirrors Rumi’s poetry, which is placed impeccably throughout the novel. Every emotion imaginable accosted me at some point during my reading, but the overall feeling of love always rose above the rest. It’s obvious a great amount of research was involved, but the creativity of how Damascena’s life leads to Rumi’s is stunning. A beautiful mind crafted this novel.
Simply put, this is a must read!
ABOUT THIS LITERARY CHEF
Holly Lynn Payne is an internationally published novelist in ten countries whose work has been translated into eight languages. Dutton/Plume published her first two novels, The Sound of Blue and The Virgin’s Knot, her debut novel, selected as a Discover Great New Writers and Border’s Original Voices book. Her third book, Kingdom of Simplicity was nominated for a national book award in Belgium and was named to the mandatory reading list in Ghent. It has also published in the Netherlands, Taiwan and China, and is the winner of a Marin Arts Council Grant, first place winner of a Benjamin Franklin Award 2010 and won Grand Prize for the Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2011. Payne studied journalism at the University of Richmond, where she received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010. She earned a MFA from University of Southern California and has taught throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, serving on the faculty at the Academy of Art University, California College of the Arts and Stanford. She lives in Northern California with her young daughter, and serves the literary community as a writing coach, publishing strategist and volunteer producer for Litquake.
When she’s not writing or coaching other writers, she enjoys getting dirty on a mountain bike and studying integrative and holistic medicine. In 2013, she earned a master’s certification in intuition medicine and is licensed to practice Intuition Medicine in California. She is currently a PhD candidate for a doctorate in integrative and holistic medicine with an emphasis on creativity and consciousness at Energy Medicine University.
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