Book review – Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

   Title:  Eat, Pray, Love,

   Author:  Elizabeth Gilbert

   ISBN:  9780143118428

   Publisher:  Penguin Books

Synopsis (from BN.com):

A celebrated writer’s irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted out of life

Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early- onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want-a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world-all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way-unexpectedly.

An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

My thoughts:  I openly admit that I purposely avoided this book back in 2006/2007 when it came out specifically because of the big Oprah craze with the book.  I am not at all a fan of the whole “Oprah said we have to read this book, so we all go out and get it without thinking for ourselves” thing. 

Well about a month ago I traveled to India to see some friends and before I left I must have heard from at least five different people, “Oh that is so Eat, Pray, Love of you”, and as they described the book I got rather intrigued.  So I decided it was time to embark on the journey into this book.

I must admit that I really, really enjoyed this book.  It chronicles the author’s year of self-discovery living in Italy, India, and Bali, after she experienced a very bad divorce.  I picked it up excited to hear the author describe the landscape of India, the people, the places, as I had just journeyed there myself.  I do wish she would have gotten more in depth about the places she was visiting, however I also realize this was a story of her personal journey of growth and change and not a travel book about Italy, India, and Bali.

Like many readers, I admit that my first response was how absolutely unrealistic it is for someone to just step out of their lives for a year to go “find themselves” while living abroad.  It is helpful to keep in mind that she is a writer and that her publishing company picked up her expenses for this year if she would write a book about it.  With this knowledge, I can’t help but wonder if her experiences weren’t somehow colored by the fact that she knew she was writing about them.  I would have preferred the idea of the book to come after the fact, after she had genuine, authentic experiences without knowing she was supposed to write something about them. 

I have read many reviews on this book and find that many reviewers feel very passionate that this author is incredibly selfish for doing what she did in leaving her life to travel around the world.  They feel strongly that the book is nothing but her selfish rants and just me, me, me.  Think what you will about this, but given that it is a book about this author’s self-discovery and growth, I expected it to be about her – after all, isn’t that the point.

I leave it up to the reader to decide if how the book ended is the author falling back into old patterns or her applying what she learned on her journey as she moves forward with her life!!!!

I thought it was beautifully written.  There are definitely moments in the book that I believe cause every reader to pause and examine portions of their own lives.  It is thought-provoking and yet has a beautiful balance of the author’s witty humor. 

Overall Rating:  Really Liked it!  Highly recommend 

And remember,

Books are Life,

Heather

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction

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